Being “woke” is defined as a heightened state of social, political and cultural awareness. When “woke” first popped into the universe it was cool, clever and descriptive. Although everyone claims they are “woke,” most people don’t know there are distinct levels of woke-osity, each having its own distinctive characteristics. In an effort to decipher the trite phrase, I decided to break down the different categories of wokeness in a handy-dandy guide, so you can determine where you fall on the scale.
Level 1: Asleep
We all know someone who wanders through life in a state of blissful ignorance. This category is reserved for those people who believe they live in an America during a time when all people can “just get along.” These are the gays that you see with smiles across their faces, arms linked and singing “we will always be together” while marching down the street and seeing people on the sidewalks are smiling back and waving and cheering.
Identifying call: “But when you think about it, aren’t we all a little queer?”
Level 2: Groggy
One day, while sleepwalking through life, Mr./Miss. “I’m Here – I’m Queer” happens upon a video of someone getting gay-bashed by a group of kids who are yelling homophobic slurs. Or maybe Mr./Miss. “I’m Here – I’m Queer” overhears one of his best “Ally” friends telling a homophobic joke, and realizes, “Wait ... what the fuck am I doing?” Mr./Miss. “I’m Here – I’m Queer” begins noticing the things they’ve ignored, like oppression and historical truth. People who are just getting woke have the perpetual facial expression of someone who just walked into a gas station bathroom immediately after a person with explosive diarrhea just finished. They notice there’s shit everywhere.
Identifying call: “Those people did what?”
Level 3: Newly Woke
The Newly Woke are the most extreme segment of the woke community. Once they realize they live in a capitalistic society built on oppression, they quit their “good job” because they can only work at queer-owned businesses. They quit their church because they no longer believe in organized religion. They even quit their friends, because all of their old associates are blind to the truth, but their “real eyes realize real lies.”
Identifying call: “I used to be lost just like you before I opened my queer eye.”
Level 4: Eyes Wide Open
This is pro-level wokeness. At some point, the newly woke realize that they still have to live and function in a racist and homophobic world. It usually happens about a month after they leave their job and realize their landlord doesn’t give a flying F*€K about economic inequality and legalized injustice unless it comes with the rent check. They call their supervisor and ask for their job back, but for a few minutes of each day, they daydream about starting a nonprofit doing something like teaching girls how to stand-up for themselves or helping young boys grow up to believe in themselves. (They haven’t gotten the details ironed out yet, but it sounds good so far, right?). They begin to mellow and learn how to navigate “the system” without compromising their queerness, existing in that pocket between respectability and unapologetic gayness. They no longer seek the acceptance of non-queer America, but they understand that not everyone who compromises is a sellout. The mellowing mostly comes from growing older, wiser and understanding others
Identifying call: “Do I look like I care what straight people think?”
5. Woke AF
This is when you start adopting the woke-abulary. You no longer discuss things; you “unpack” them. Everything that once made you laugh when your cousin said it at a cookout is now “problematic.” You suddenly notice how often you are “triggered” by “microaggressions” like your boss asking you why you are late to work for the fourth time in a month. You quit your job again and file for unemployment because your workplace wasn’t a “safe space.”
Identifying call: “I have a beef with anyone who eats beef.”
This is the highest level of woke-osity. You can’t have an intelligent conversation with someone with a Ph.D. in wokeology because, when losing an argument, they can always counter actual facts with: “Who told you that? The straight ones?” They are more well-versed in inane conspiracy theories than Alex Jones, and you can’t convince them that the U.S. Department of Agriculture doesn’t put fluoride in red Kool-Aid. They have documented proof (not with them right now, but the next time they see you, they’ll show you) that the Ancient Egyptians invented the iPhone 38, and we’re just catching up. Also, did you know there’s a clause in the Constitution that says your Social Security number is actually your account number for the Federal Reserve to trade you on a secret human stock market?
Identifying call: “That’s what they want you to think!”
Stay woke…But not too woke.