After winning the 2022 election, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis proclaimed: “Florida is where woke goes to die.”
But what does “woke” mean?
The Marriam Webster Dictionary defines “woke” as a slang term which means: “aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues, especially issues of racial and social justice.”
The use of the term “woke” was first used in the 1940s by Black Americans to warn each other about racist violence.
The term gained more widespread use beginning in 2014 as part of the Black Lives Matter movement.
“By the end of that same decade it was also being applied by some as a general pejorative for anyone who is or appears to be politically left-leaning,” the dictionary explains.
In Florida, woke is defined by the DeSantis administration as “the belief there are systemic injustices in American society and the need to address them,” according to DeSantis' general counsel Ryan Newman, as reported by the Washington Post. In his election night speech, DeSantis said he rejects this belief.
Florida Politics reported that Taryn Fenske, the communications director for DeSantis, described "woke" as a "slang term for activism … progressive activism.”
A USA Today poll published March 8, 2023 reported 56% of Americans said "woke" means: "to be informed, educated on, and aware of social injustices,” while 39% thought woke means “to be overly politically correct and police others’ words.”
The poll found that the majority of Republicans indicated being called “woke” would be perceived by them as an insult and the majority of Democrats thought it was a compliment. About 25% of those polled said they didn’t know enough to determine if it would be an insult or a compliment.