Woke, "adjective (woker, wokest) informal alert to injustice and discrimination in society, especially racism: we need to stay angry, and stay woke; does being woke mean I have to agree with what all other woke folks say should be done about issues in the black community? the West Coast has the wokest dudes. 1960s: originally in African American usage" (OED).
To be "woke" stems from the Age of Enlightenment, when "enlightened" atheists rejected God, challenged the Divine Right of Kings, and started the calendar over at the Year 1. By the 1920s and 1930s, "enlightened" Nazis regarded God and Jesus Christ as a "Jewish conspiracy" that even Jews and Marxists did not believe in. Woke "knowledge" is esoteric, for example holding firm the maxim that "religion is the opiate of the masses." So once a "true believer" casts off the opiate, they become "woke" or "enlightened." David Greenfield describes it as "a cultish term for a political cult that reframes extremism as a revelation."
In modern America, leftists often use the term to refer to a person unquestioningly accepting a radical political doctrine viewing society in terms of "white privilege." Just as Christians who find inner peace by accepting Jesus Christ into their lives are called "born again", some people who feel great anger at society because of what they feel is social injustice are called "woke." In truth, however, those on the Left who claim to be "woke" (which is incidentally an improper use of English) are actually the exact opposite - stupefied and dulled to the truth instead of being awakened.
The term "awake", however, is used by opponents of the woke and politically correct ideology to differentiate themselves from the supporters and spokespersons of the latter, hence the slogan "Awake, not woke", started by President Donald J. Trump and Florida's Governor Ron DeSantis.
According to David Brooks of The New York Times:
|“||To be woke is to be radically aware and justifiably paranoid. It is to be cognizant of the rot pervading the power structures. The woke manner shares cool’s rebel posture, but it is the opposite of cool in certain respects. Cool was politically detached, but being a social activist is required for being woke. Cool was individualistic, but woke is nationalistic and collectivist. Cool was emotionally reserved; woke is angry, passionate and indignant. Cool was morally ambiguous; woke seeks to establish a clear marker for what is unacceptable.||”|
- Brooks, David. "How Cool Works in America Today", New York Times, July 25, 2017.