There's a small but growing group of white education folks out there who are identifying themselves as "woke," by which they mean they are aware of structural inequalities and racism (and presumably working against these things).
But I'm not sure that employing the term is a good thing for white folks to do, much as they might be tempted. And I'm especially unsure that it's a good thing for white men to do, given all the privileges and blind spots that come along with being white and male.
The question of being white and woke came up recently on Twitter, thanks to Jonas Chartock expression discomfort with the spread of the term:
It's also been a topic of debate since Justin Timberlake got slammed for his well-intended but clueless response to Jesse Williams' amazing BET speech Sunday night (while you were probably watching Game Of Thrones and I was watching soccer).
The reason, in simple terms, that white folks probably shouldn't use the term is that using "woke" seems like blatant appropriation of a term that people of color in the #BlackLivesMatter movement are using, which is in itself a form of racism.
How can you be a "woke" white person if using the term suggests that you aren't?
So what's a good alternative if you're a white person who thinks s/he "gets it"? There are a few out there to consider, including ally, aspiring ally, and anti-racist. I like the last term the most because it's the most explicit.
If the numbers of white people who are concerned and active about racism are going to grow, then they will likely need an identifier (and maybe even an affinity group) of their own.
The work matters more than the identifier, of course, but I hope it's not "woke."
Related reading: Earning the ‘Woke’ Badge (Amanda Hess in the NYT), Daily Dot (Black Twitter lists the woke white people invited to their cookout), The Cut (Macklemore Is All of My Woke Ex-Boyfriends)