O God, you have bound us together in a common life. Help us, in the midst of our struggles for justice and truth, to confront one another without hatred or bitterness, and to work together with mutual forbearance and respect; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer

BEFORE BEGINNING. The words we use matter. Therefore when we use words, especially words that are intended as an insult, we should be fully aware of their history and meaning. Unfortunately many Christians use woke as an insult ignorant of the terms history. One way we can show respect to our fellow image bearers is by learning about the history of a word. By reading, listening to, and watching the various forms of media below you should have the start of a well-rounded understanding of the word woke and why Christians should stop using it as a pejorative.


READ: How ‘woke’ became the least woke word in U.S. English / Bijan C. Bayn
A quick primer on the origins of the term woke. A must read for a term that has made its way into everyday American vernacular.

READ: Christians, Stop Using ‘Woke’ as an Insult / Tyler Huckabee
A call to Christians to think about the words we use and to stop using the word “woke” as a pejorative.

READ: Notable tweets on the term ‘woke’ / Esau McCaulley and Jesse Eubanks
Two notable tweet threads from author Dr. Esau McCaulley and Love Thy Neighborhood founder Jesse Eubanks on why we need to be need to be thoughtful with the words we use and not parrot partisan lexicon.


LISTEN: What Does Woke Mean? / Mornings with Carmen LaBerge
In just four minutes, Justin Giboney breaks down the origins of the word “woke” and encourages Christians to use words charitably. Skip to 7 minutes to get to the interview.

Mornings with Carmen LaBerge | What does woke mean? – Justin Giboney


WATCH: What Does ‘Woke’ Actually Mean? / KPBR
Just six minutes and two videos is all it takes to quickly learn about the origins of the word woke, its many definitions, and why we should ask people what they mean when they use the term before engaging in a conversation.


READ: A history of “wokeness” / Aja Romano
An excellent deep dive replete with songs, video, and tweets that traces the origin of woke, its multiple definitions, and how it is being used in our current cultural moment.


“It makes me angry that many White brothers and sisters who say they believe in Jesus have taken a Black word, appropriated it and made it a weapon. We used to say ‘stay woke’ all the time. It had nothing to do with this late night news media propaganda nonsense. Let me specifically talk to my White brothers and sisters right now: The whole CRT issue—  the whole woke issue — is a bogeyman to keep you afraid. In the 1950s and 1960s, White people were scared. They would say ‘race mixing is Marxism, it’s socialist, Dr. King is a Communist.’ Let me just pause here and say this. I want my frustration to come across from a holy place. As a Black man, I am really sick and tired of Black language being weaponized. Marcus Garvey, way back in the 1920s, started the term woke. It simply means “aware to injustice.”…They take these words and use them to create fear. So let me just hit you with this: 1 John 4:18 says ‘Perfect love casts out all fear.’” Derwin Gray, “Dr. Derwin Gray on Racial Justice and Why White Christians Need to Stop Weaponizing ‘Woke’.” Relevant, 2 May 2022, https://relevantmagazine.com/justice/social-justice/dr-derwin-gray-on-racial-justice-and-why-white-christians-need-to-stop-weaponizing-woke/

“Being woke is to be aware. Being woke is to acknowledge the truth. Being woke is to be accountable. Being woke is to be active.” Eric Mason, Woke Church (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2018) Kindle ed., 437.

“Woke is a term that originated in black culture that implies being aware of racism in its many forms. It was a method of survival for many who had to navigate life ever aware of threats to themselves and their family. Today it conveys similar meaning as we recognize and discover how ethnicity still plays a role in different sectors of American society. Being woke is a positive trait. We should all be aware of our surroundings and the issues that are present but unseen. For some, woke has become a threat to use against people and a catch all word for a litany of issues that are unrelated to the true concept of the word in culture. The Americans you speak of my hate freedom of speech but that doesn’t mean they’re woke. No matter how many people continue to misuse the word it doesn’t make it right. This misappropriation needs to end. The fact that it continues to grow is telling.” Benjamin Watson, @benjaminswatson. (2022, May 5). [Text screenshot by Benjamin Watson]. Retrieved from https://www.instagram.com/p/CdMiq4ku1AS/?utm_source=ig_embed&ig_rid=90f90bf8-f671-4cc3-811d-7c8766229072

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