We’re seeing entirely too much of the term ‘woke’ these days. The Associated Press just addressed its use and controversy in its Stylebook.
What is woke? Unfortunately, these days, it depends on the political persuasion of the person you ask.
The term is a victim of a rapidly-changing connotation. That’s a nice way of saying that the way the word is used changed drastically in a short amount of time.
The word, when used as an adjective, has nothing to do with the opposite of being asleep. (At least not literally.)
When you go back to look for the history of the term, you learn something interesting: It’s complicated. As an adjective, it referred to being “alert to racial prejudice and discrimination.”
But as more people became aware of those issues, some who seemed to long for a return to deeper incarnations of those issues began feeling more and more uncomfortable with the increased awareness.
One side of the political spectrum has, in recent years, turned grade-school mocking and name-calling into an unfortunate art form. That bullying used, among other things, the term woke.
To that side of the political spectrum in this country, they use the term for isn’t just aware of injustice. To that side, the woke are obsessed with only helping the oppressed at the expense of everyone else, oppressors or otherwise.
Not everyone sees the term and the people it describes that way. But too many do.
That’s where the AP Stylebook comes in
The Associated Press Stylebook defines a style for journalists. It helps standardize the writing style across different newsrooms. That way, journalists can share their content easier and remain consistent in style.
Recently on Twitter, the AP released guidance on how journalists should use the term in news stories.
“Some people and groups, particularly conservatives, use it in a derogatory sense implying what they see as overreactions,” the post states.
The AP advises journalists to use the term only when they are quoting someone else and to be sure to place the term itself in quotation marks.
Of course, if you’re quoting someone, you’d have double quotation marks at the start and end of the quote. For the term inside that quote, you’d use single quotation marks around the term.
For example, I’ll pull a quote from an article on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis from Newsweek, but I’ll add the quotation marks as AP Style advises. (Newsweek did not use quotes around the term.)
“We reject this ‘woke’ ideology…We will never surrender to the ‘woke’ mob. Florida is where ‘woke’ goes to die.”
That’s what it would look like using quotes within a quote for woke.
The reason for the quotes, I feel certain, is to make clear to readers that the speaker used the term, as opposed to the journalist labeling someone that way on their own. That guidance provides a bit of transparency to make it clear that the quoted material was what the speaker actually said.