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Do you speak the "woke"?


The “woke” movement uses a very precise vocabulary. Decryption of these words which are anchored in the French linguistic landscape.

What is "wokism"?

Who are these


, who speak of



“cancel culture”


“cultural appropriation”


What do the words



"whitewahsing" mean


This movement, born in the United States, is articulated around a set of specific terms, borrowed from English, from sociological concepts or which sometimes go back to Ancient Greece.

Le Figaro

returns to this often obscure jargon that must be mastered in order to understand the ideological issues it designates.

To discover

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● Woke

Derived from English, the word


properly means



It was used as a formula in the United States in African American communities throughout the 20th century.

“Being woke”

then means:

“to be awake”

to the social injustices that weigh on these communities.




became popular in 2008, as Pierre Valentin underlines in his study

“L'idéologie woke.

Anatomy of wokism ”

, through music.

Georgia Anne Muldrow sings:

"I stay woke"


I remain awake


Asked about the meaning of this word, she answers:

“Being woke is definitely a black experience […].

[It's] understanding what your ancestors went through.

To be in touch with the struggle that our people have waged here and to understand that we have been fighting since the day we landed here. ”

The word was then taken up by the

“Black Live Matter” movement

and its meaning was broadened:

“being woke”

today encompasses everything relating to injustices and oppressions, the fight of which is carried as a banner by its followers. .




"wake up"

, that is to say free themselves and fight the


who use their privileges over them.

● Intersectionality

Here again, it is a question of a relationship between




. Intersectionality, a word still absent from dictionaries, belongs to the field of sociology and social psychology. If we refer to the Office de la langue française in Quebec, this concept was described by the African-American lawyer Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, in 1989,

"to speak more specifically of the reality of black women who were subjected to the both the effects of sexism and those of racism. ”

More generally,


designates the different forms of

“domination or discrimination experienced by a person”

. They can be founded

"On their race, sex, age, religion, sexual orientation, social class or physical abilities, which leads to an increase in the prejudices suffered."

In short, the word encompasses all forms of struggles, based on all forms of


which denounce all



To try to find an etymology to the word, let us underline that


is borrowed from the Latin



"between, among"

and that


comes from the Latin



"action of cutting, cutting, amputation"

, then, in geometry,


, and finally



● Cultural appropriation

Recently, the singer

"Christine and the Queens"

, who renamed herself


, then a few days ago


, was accused of

"cultural appropriation"

by Internet users on Twitter.

He has been criticized for


a name of Arabic origin (which means




making proof of abusive authority over a culture that is not his.

Cultural appropriation is, as defined by the Office québécois de la langue française,

“the use, by a person or a group of persons, of cultural elements belonging to another culture, generally a minority one, in a manner that is deemed offensive, abusive or inappropriate. ”

● Deconstructivism

This word comes from an architectural trend that emerges at the end of the 20th century, which

"aims to rethink the variety of geometric shapes by questioning architectural canons"

, notes Larousse. Strongly influenced by Derrida,

"philosopher of deconstruction"



is now widely used by


. What do they want to deconstruct? Sandrine Rousseau, former candidate for the ecological primary, said at the end of July in the weekly show


on Twitch that she

"did not trust politicians, in this case men who did not deconstructed (…) ”

then on LCI, on September 22

, "Live with a deconstructed man"

and be

"super happy"


Understand here a man, and more generally the so-called

"privileged" people

, who seek to get rid of their privileges and a set of habits that society has granted them.



and intends to


the discrimination and inequality by getting rid of

"gender stereotypes"


● Racialized / trans-racialism

Take the example of singer Christine and the Queens (who again changed her stage name to:



Not only accused of

"cultural appropriation"

, she was accused of engaging in


, that is to say, as Benjamin Sire specified in an article in

Le Figaro


"of prehension of a racial identity other than that which one carries at birth. "

We find the word in the columns of Robert:

"Person affected by racism, discrimination."

● Adelphité

This word is the prerogative of a so-called



(which includes all forms of discrimination against women). He claims to speak of


, rather than


about women, for the sake of greater




comes from the Greek


, which means

“of brother or sister”

. It literally means

"who is a brother from the same mother, having sucked the same breast"

, according to the Treasury of the French language. It therefore includes the brother (


) and the




), without making any gender distinction. Speak


would therefore make it possible to include men and women without differentiating them by their sex.

● Black-face / white washing

To make up your face in black, whether it is to play a black character in the theater, in the cinema, or as a disguise, when you are white, is a practice denounced by the


under the

"black face"


, or

"black face"

. This practice, very popular in French vaudevilles at the end of the 18th century, was imagined, as stated by the historian of the performing arts and author of

Race et théâtre: unensé politique

(Actes Sud-Papiers, 2020) Sylvie Chalaye on France Culture… by the slaves themselves. In the 17th century,

"in the American plantations, the masters asked their slaves to play sketches to entertain them"


They did so, inserting into their game a satire of the treatment inflicted by their masters, without the latter realizing it.


"black face"

was popularized in the United States under the name of

"ministrel shows"

, then exported to Europe.

Today, the

“black face”

is considered


and a marker of

“cultural appropriation”


Note the existence of another concept,


, also fought by


, which consists in accusing white actors of playing the roles of black people.

● Cancel culture


"cancel culture"

, in French

"culture of effacement"

, advocates




in the public space statues, literary and artistic works or personalities deemed

"racist, sexist or homophobic"


Recently, the socialist mayor of Rouen Nicolas Mayer-Rossignol proposed to replace the statue of Napoleon which sits on the Place de l'Hotel-de-Ville by an effigy of Gisèle Halimi,

"figure of the struggle for women's rights"


Wiping a hail of criticism, he defended himself on Twitter that he did not see why

"the most visible and symbolic places, such as the Place de l'HdV, should be reserved for men."

Source: lefigaro

All news articles on 2021-10-22

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