"Stay Woke," How The Right-Wing Has Misappropriated Erykah Badu's Message of Awareness For Pussy Riot
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“Stay Woke,” How The Right-Wing Has Misappropriated Erykah Badu’s Message of Awareness For Pussy Riot

What started as a call for awareness and action by legendary musician Erykah Badu has been perverted into a tool of hate by Republican and Conservative politicians and the right-wing media. “Truth Requires No Belief. Stay Woke. Watch Closely. #FreePussyRiot” was a message Tweeted by Badu on 9:56 AM · Aug 8, 2012 and was meant to inspire people to stand up for their beliefs and fight for change.

Pussy Riot is a Russian punk rock group known for its activism. In 2012, three members were arrested and charged with “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” after a performance in a Moscow cathedral criticizing the government’s suppression of free speech. Their arrest sparked international outrage and condemnation of Russia’s repression of dissent.

The word “woke” has been twisted into a negative connotation that attributes all of society’s problems to “wokism.” These right-wing politicians cannot even define the word they are using as a pejorative, yet they continue to use it to attack those who are fighting for progress.

Former president Donald Trump equates “staying woke” with fascism, which is ironic considering that he is widely regarded as the most dangerous fascist president in American history. Florida governor DeSantis has even stated that “Florida is where woke goes to die,” further demonstrating the right wing’s contempt for progress and change.

In a recent interview on MSNBC’s The Beat with Ari Melber, Erykah Badu herself stated that the word “woke” no longer has the same meaning and that when right-wing politicians use it to attribute negative connotations, they are essentially referring to Black people.

The racism and appalling vitriol used by right-wing politicians to push their own agenda while tearing down others and words of symbolism that stood for something positive must be called out for what it is. The word “woke” means to be aware and understand what is going on, and it is derived from the word “wake,” meaning to emerge or cause to emerge from a state of sleep, to stop sleeping. Yet the right wing, like DeSantis, speaks of “killing” it as if it were a social gathering associated with death, held before or after a funeral or a “wake.”

We cannot allow this kind of rhetoric to stand. We must speak out against the misuse and misappropriation of words that have a positive message and have been co-opted by those who seek to undermine progress and maintain the status quo. We must stay woke, watch closely, and fight for a better world, no matter the obstacles in our path.

Stay Woke

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News does not and should not dehumanize people for the sake of financial gains, political favours and social media clout.