Erykah Badu has called out for those on the right-wing for racism in their criticism of the “woke” slogan.
Though the word has its roots in a 1960s essay by William Melvin Kelley, it was brought to modern public consciousness through Badu’s 2008 song ‘Master Teacher’ and her discussion of it on social media.
Speaking on MSNBC, Badu remembered: “I tweeted it about this group that was detained, Pussy Riot. “I said ‘free Pussy Riot’… After that, ‘woke’ took off.”
After being shown a number of clips from interviews and speeches where the term “stay woke” is used, Badu was asked about the term being co-opted by the right-wing, to which she responded: “I think they mean ‘Black.’ Yeah. That’s just another way to say ‘thug,’ or something else, right?”
The singer added: “It is what it is, it doesn’t belong to us anymore. And once something goes out into the world, it takes a life of its own. It has an energy of its own. I can tell you what ‘woke’ means. It means being aware, being in alignment with nature…
“It’s not only in the political arena. That means with your health, that means in your relationships, that means in your home, that means in your car, that means in your sleep.”
Last year, Erykah Badu played a pair of shows at London’s Royal Festival Hall to celebrate 25 years of her debut album ‘Baduizm’.
Released in 1997, ‘Baduizm’ debuted at Number Two on the US Billboard charts and won the Best R&B Album at the 40th Grammy Awards.
More recently, Badu appears on ‘Indigo’, the debut solo album from BTS’ RM. Discussing her involvement on the song ‘Yun’, RM said in an interview with NME: “If I sing [the hook], I thought it wouldn’t be that convincing because I’m too young to preach or tell people to be somebody.
“With Erykah, it can be convincing because she has her own narrative through her life and she has a castle – she’s living in her own kingdom. She has nothing to do with the hype or the viral[ity] and the noise, but everybody knows her and respects her.”