Former top diplomat Bilahari dislikes the term “woke”, and here are some reactions

By March 15, 2021Perspectives

TL;DR – “I just woke up.”

Bilahari Kausikan is a Singaporean academic, and retired diplomat and civil servant. Other than giving lectures and authoring articles on Straits Times, he’s also very active on Facebook, often resharing interesting articles and at times, voicing personal opinions.

He just did it again this Monday morning. This time, a short but somewhat scalding one on the woke culture.

First off, what’s “WOKE”?

If you’re active on social media, you should be fairly familiar with this term. There are lots of posts and tweets about current events that are tagged #staywoke.

The origins of it appears to stem from the African American Vernacular English (sometimes called AAVE) slang. In AAVE, awake is often rendered as woke, as in, “I was sleeping, but now I’m woke.” But the term is now mainstream, and was officially added into the Oxford English Dictionary as an adjective in 2017.

The dictionary defines it as “originally: well-informed, up-to-date. Now chiefly: alert to racial or social discrimination and injustice”.

The Urban Dictionary, which published its original definition two years prior to the official dictionary, defines it as “being woke means being aware… knowing what’s going on in the community (related to racism and social injustice)”.

Basically, the term “woke” means to be aware of social movements, or to be awake to sensitive social issues, such as racism.

Reactions to Bilahari’s post on the term, “Woke”

Here are a couple of people who agreed with what Bilahari said and lamented about how the so-called woke people are often too quick to cancel people who don’t share their points of view.

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And then, there are some people who chose to see things from the more lighthearted slant, which is nice!

And yet, there are people who think that the term “woke” needs a different definition.

And Bilahari and this person won’t be alone in thinking so.

We spotted this in Urban Dictionary:

Woke: The act of being very pretentious about how much you care about a social issue.

(Featured image via)


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Gabrielle Teo

Author Gabrielle Teo

I read lots, and I also spend an indecent amount of time trying to get my mostly unpopular opinions published. Oh, I argue a lot with fellow Singaporeans who complain incessantly about Singapore too.

More posts by Gabrielle Teo

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