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Stay Woke… A History

This zine aims to help readers understand the roots of the term by providing a historical overview.




Social Studies


6 +




The word “woke” has come up in the news a lot these days. Stay Woke… A History” aims to help readers understand the roots of the term by providing a historical overview. By tracing the evolution of “woke”, the zine offers insights into how the word is used today, allowing readers to gain a clearer perspective on its significance in contemporary conversations. It serves as a valuable resource for those looking to grasp the multifaceted nature of the term and its role in today’s conversations. This is part of the collaborative 4-part zine series, #IYKYK. Download the PDF to see additional resources.


  • Folx
  • Woke
  • Antiracist
  • Ally
  • Co-opt
  • Appropriate
  • Weaponize

Why Learn About It?

This zine highlights the resurgence of the term “woke,” acknowledging that for younger generations, it may appear outdated but has experienced a recent revival. Despite its frequent appearance in the news and social media, many individuals lack knowledge about the term’s history. Understanding its origins becomes essential in deciphering and analyzing its contemporary usage by politicians. The zine emphasizes the importance of discussing how the term “woke” is being weaponized by the right, illustrating that this conversation could serve as a gateway for younger audiences to critically evaluate the weaponization or cultural appropriation of other terms and practices in today’s discourse.

Before Reading Questions

  1. What does “being woke” mean to you?

  2. What do you want to learn about the word “woke?”

After Reading Questions

  1. In small groups, have a discussion on cultural appropriation. Here are a few questions to get you started.

    a. Define cultural appropriation.

    b. What are specific examples of cultural appropriation?

    c. How are cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation different? When do lines begin to blur?

    d. Why should people care about cultural appropriation or appreciation?

  2. Listen to the song “Master Teacher (I Stay Woke)” and read the lyrics. Have students underline parts they find interesting and circle words/phrases that are still confusing. In a journal writing exercise, students will reflect on the following questions:

    a. How does this speak to a historical definition of staying woke?

    b. How can it inform the definition that’s being used today? Or does it challenge it?

  3. In small groups, have students create their own social media posts (Instagram, TikTok, etc.) that would inform the viewer what “woke” means. Whether it be still images, vlogs, or videos, let them get creative! Afterward, have them share it with the class!

About Collaborator

Healing Equity United consults on creating antiracist and anti-oppressive organizational cultures, facilitates interactive workshops and trainings, and conducts diversity, equity, and inclusion audits. Learn more about their work at www.healingequityunited.com.

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