One of the Biggest Critics of “Woke” was Forced to Define What the Word Actually Means — Here’s What Was Said

Officials representing Florida governor Ron DeSantis tried to define what “woke” meant to them, and the result is jarring.

We’ve heard the word so much over the years, especially from conservatives and right-winged figures. But what is the definition? What does “woke” mean? One of the most prominent critics of “woke” culture, Florida governor Ron DeSantis, had his lawyers provide a definition. The answer was quite telling.

Suspended Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren has spent the last couple of weeks in federal court trying to retrieve his position working for the state of Florida. This comes after DeSantis suspended Warren in August after the Hillsboro state attorney signed a pledge for abortion seekers and providers to not be prosecuted.

During the trial, Warren’s attorney, Jean-Jacques Cabou, asked those within DeSantis’ administration for their personal definition of ‘woke,” a term that DeSantis has used to disparage Warren in the past.

DeSantis’ general counsel, Ryan Newman, responded that the term means “the belief there are systemic injustices in American society and the need to address them.”

Newman added that DeSantis doesn’t believe that there are systemic injustices in the United States.

“To me, it means someone who believes that there are systemic injustices in the criminal justice system, and on that basis they can decline to fully enforce and uphold the law,” Newman said.

Taryn Fenske, DeSantis’ Communications Director, said that “woke” was “slang term for activism…progressive activism,” also a belief of systemic injustices.

It’s interesting to hear DeSantis’ definition in the courtroom. Part of DeSantis’ brand is combating “wokeness”. Last year, DeSantis launched the “Stop W.O.K.E.” act in Florida, which enforces local schools and businesses to halt instruction that could make some groups feel they bear “personal responsibility” because of their race, national origin or sex. He has also classified a wide spectrum of things as woke: from Ben and Jerry’s ice cream to the NCAA

Of course, if you read our history of “woke,” you would know it’s an AAVE term that implies an alertness to “important societal facts and issues,” especially those of racial and social injustice.

A federal judge will decide if DeSantis unlawfully suspended Warren over the upcoming weeks.

Jaelani Turner-Williams

Jaelani Turner-Williams is a contributing news writer for Okayplayer with bylines at Billboard, MTV News, NYLON, Recording Academy and more. Read her mind on Twitter at @hernameisjae.

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Jaelani Turner-Williams

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