Beware The Faux Awokening: Being Woke Has To Exist Beyond The Hashtags

Boarding the ‘right on’ train will only get us so far

Beware The Faux Awokening

by Jazmin Kopotsha |
Published on

In the Entry-Level Woke Manual, you’ll find a few easy to follow instructions. Support any movement that comes with a hashtag. Retweet said hashtags, but don’t worry too much about trying to understand what they mean. Regurgitate general top-line blabber about ‘progress’. Quote Emma Watson.

If you graduate to Staying Woke For Dummies, it’ll will tell you to disagree with the middle aged white man. Talk about inequality as if it’s a brand-new issue the world has only just discovered and apply disproportionate outrage to societal injustice without actually contributing productively to conversation. Drop the words ‘diverse’ and ‘privilege’ into conversations a lot. Wear t-shirts with ‘feminism’ slogans on the chest.

Being woke in today’s terms, and being visibly in tune with the political, cultural and social climate has become performance rather than a state of being. It’s taken a form that differs from it’s pre-social media appropriated origins. It holds a different sort of currency and encourages the expectation of a pat on the back at every demonstration of not being racist/sexist/bigoted/exploitative/a shit human.

At grassroots level, it manifests in middle class Twitter warriors who willhappily attend the Women’s Marchesfor the sake of getting a good picture holding a pretty placard, and then remain oblivious to the cause being fought for the rest of the year. At the level of widespread public influence though, at that of the government, CEOs, Hollywood’s A-list and those with international platforms, it takes a different shape. It’s here where performative wokeness has the potential to lure us into a false sense of security and distract us from the action behind the headline grabbing acts of low key, image-friendly activism.

Read More: The Authentic Social Media Activists Who Take Their Fight Beyond The Small Screen


Inspirational Instagram Accounts You Should Follow

Women in comics1 of 24

Women In Comics

Illustrating inspirational images and depicting women in comic form, this account will brighten up your timeline with some home truths in the form of pretty pictures.

Adwoa Aboah2 of 24

Adwoa Aboah

This insanely beautiful model founded GURLS TALK, an online community where women from all backgrounds can share their personal experiences in a safe space.

Alicia Garza3 of 24

Alicia Garza

Alicia is an editor and activist who co-created #BlackLivesMatter. Her feed is a mixture of relatable memes, unfiltered selfies and educational posts to keep you woke.

Amandla Stenberg4 of 24

Amandla Stenberg

You might recognise this actor from The Hunger Games, when she played the character only character we cried endless tears for, Rue. Now, while still acting, she's a full-fledged activist posting about everything gender, feminism and black culture.

Amani5 of 24


Amani created the fast-growing activism account @MuslimGirl, another one you should definitely follow. She has spoken across the world about Muslim women and posts everything from badass selfies to stats you need to know.

Amber Amour6 of 24

Amber Amour

Amber created @CreatingConsentCulture which aims to educate people on rape culture and support rape and sexual assault survivors. She's also outspoken about racism and sex work, her feed will be endless many dinner party talking points.

Amber Rose7 of 24

Amber Rose

You may only know Amber Rose as Kanye's ex, but think again. Amber is a sex positivity icon, with her own pocast 'Loveline with Amber Rose' up until 2018 that aimed to promote healthy sexual relationships and self-love. If you can get past the fact she advertised flat tummy tea once (fgs Amber), you'll love her feminism-filled feed.

Beverly Bond8 of 24

Beverly Bond

Author of 'Black Girls Rock', Beverly's posts will have you both inspired and enraged, filled with commentary on everyday injustices.

Bree Newsome9 of 24

Bree Newsome

You may recognise Bree as the activist who took down the confederate flag from a flagpole outside the South Carolina Capitol building. She's continuing her activism with inspiring art you need to see.

Cameron Russell10 of 24

Cameron Russell

An american model who called out the fashion industry for sexual harassment and assault, she started the #MyJobShouldNotIncludeAbuse hashtag. Her instagram is full of inspiring stories and educational videos exposing different injustices within her industry and beyond.

Iskra Lawrence11 of 24

Iskra Lawrence

If your not already following Iskra, your living under an Instagram rock. The body positive model started her own business, everyBODY with Iskra, to give health and fitness advice beyond just getting super skinny. You need her body posi vibes in your life.

Jessamyn12 of 24


Another super body positive account to follow, Jessamyn is a yoga teacher regularly posting about the emotional and physical benefits of body positivity and practicing yoga.

Joanna Thangiah13 of 24

Joanna Thangiah

Shun your timeline of filtered selfies and over exposed holiday destinations. It's time for some feminist, mental health aware art! This account is amazing for cute cartoons that say everything we're already feeling.

Judy Reyes14 of 24

Judy Reyes

You'll probably remember Judy as Carla from Scrubs, or one of the other thousand TV show she's been in throughout her insanely successful career. Unlike most Hollywood actors, her Insta is full of activism and news you need to know.

Logan Browning15 of 24

Logan Browning

Activist and actor, Logan Browning is the lead of Netflix hit Dear White People. Posting powerful content and links to charities you can donate to so you can turn your online activism into action- she's a force to be reckoned with.

Makers Women16 of 24

Makers Women

MAKERS is a storytelling platform for women, posting quotes to keep you inspired throughout the day. Stay up to date with gender injustice, while also feeling hopeful with the powerful words these amazing women have to say.

Nimisha Bhanot17 of 24

Nimisha Bhanot

Another artist you need to follow, Nimisha creates amazing prints (which you can buy) critiquing societal perceptions of South Asian women. She's based in Canada, but these prints can brighten up your timeline anywhere.

Muslim Girl18 of 24

Muslim Girl

Muslim Girl, where 'muslim women talk back' is an account ran by Amani. Advocating for issues facing muslim women, both accounts are an inspiration and necessity on your feed.

Project Consent19 of 24

Project Consent

There's no time like the present to be educating people on consent. This account does exactly that, and gives you the perfect explanations, comebacks and reminders to throw out at a dinner party if the issue comes up.

Rowan Blanchard20 of 24

Rowan Blanchard

Gone are the days of Disney stars going off the rails, this actor and activist is a beacon of positivity- especially online. Fighting gender and race injustice and beyond, she's one to watch.

rupi kaur21 of 24

Rupi Kaur

Rupi made headlines in 2015 when she posted pictures of her on Instagram with visible menstrual blood. Her posts were blocked by Instagram, causing backlash against the social media platform. She continues to break boundaries with her writing and poetry.

Sophie King22 of 24

Sophie King

This UK based embroidery artist is an up-and-coming star, embroidering feminist slogans onto everything from bras to roses. Bring her insta to life with her slogan t-shirts, or just stare at the pretty pictures, either way she's someone you should follow.

Vulva Gallery23 of 24

The Vulva Gallery

Our favourite of all the accounts, the vulva gallery promotes self-love in an area SO often ignored. With two-thirds of women avoiding smear tests, life-saving procedures, because of the look of their vagina, it's time we stopped all of the self-loathing around genitals. Providing a regular reminder that all vaginas are beautiful, if you only follow one account of this list, it should be this one.

Trash Is For Tossers24 of 24

Trash Is For Tossers

Lauren Singer lives an entirely waste-free life. Yes, you can actually do that. As #plasticfree takes over our news feed, it's time you had some daily advice on how exactly to reduce your waste. Save the planet!

The events that have unfolded over the last year or so have shaken us. It’s the well-publicised disgraces (the fall of Harvey Weinstein) and career-ending scandals (Damian Green’s ‘resignation’ as Deputy Prime Minister) that have propelled movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp into welcomed existence. But if we remove the rose-tinted glasses for a moment and take stock of where we are, it’s hard not to be a little bit disgruntled by a less progressive reality.

Awards season thrives on political controversy, and the Golden Globes black dress protest that is to be mimicked at the BAFTAs, and the waving of white roses at the Grammy’s that the BRITs intends to follow too, are the perfect way for celebrities (and we, the applauding observers) to ride the woke wave without the obligation of having to get hands dirty once the cameras stop flashing.

That’s not to take away from the huge amount of good that Times Up has already done and intends to do. But we only see a snap shot of activity which shouldn't be enough to quiet our outrage and assume that everything has been set right. In the current cultural climate, these awards shows offer people of influence a chance to fulfil the duty of aligning themselves with a good cause and giving lip service to movements that, in actuality, extend way beyond a convenient dress code.

The sight of hundreds of celebrities united against unequal pay is incredibly powerful, but that force is tied to a very specific moment when, in reality, we need it to carry through and for those crucial conversations to travel further. It also allows us to make the (incorrect) assumption that because a visual statement has been made, everything and everyone will follow suit. The sad reality is that these people represent a minority within a minority of an elite circle of powerful people taking a figurative stand.

And what happens when this genre of protest isn’t cool or exciting anymore and we’re back to unfavourable business as usual? Because we really can’t afford for the subject of diversity to be a trend. Every year writers and commentators pose questions asking whether or not this will be the year that #OscarsSoWhite finally makes impact, but what about the other days when the Hollywood powers that be aren’t paraded into publicly accountability for their discriminatory decisions behind the scenes? Well, very little apparently because the films celebrated at Academy Awards and flashy film festivals are a mere sample of production and, once again, the stats only reiterate that the level diversity in films has barely changed at all.

We only see so much. It’s deceptive because we do hear reports about new initiatives that align themselves with diversity (the media's favourite buzzword) every now and again. Last year PWC published a reporton how much less it pays its black, Asian and minority ethnic staff in the name of transparency (the corporate world’s favourite buzzword) ahead of this year’s requirement for all companies across the UK to publish their gender pay gap figures. But the transition to equality doesn’t start and end there. As it stands, this is little more than superficial awokening through a corporate lens.

Take the BBC's rocky gender pay gap journey, for example. What it symbolises is a wider, deeper problem that undoubtedly exists across all industries, yet it's the tip of a company ice berg that we're quick to assign as representative of all. And after the deserved outrage at the disparity in pay between some of their top presenters, some male presenters agreed to take a pay cut to match their female counter parts, however it says nothing for the wider continued discrimination within the BBC and neither does is resolve it. It's surface level solutions to overwhelmingly dominant systematic problems. And god knows we've had plenty of them already this year.

Accountability is crucial, of course. And in supporting those with platforms and voices in demanding it, we’ve helped to lifted the lid on the diversity problem a little. We’ve rattled the gender equality cage. We’ve made the issue of sexual harassment a public issue that dominates headlines and will hopefully drive some long-awaited change. But how far can wearing black dresses, holding white roses, retweeting a hashtag and crying feminism get us? They’re easy and publicly pleasing performances to get on board with, but they don’t escape the superficial nature that comes with aligning yourself with the most popular ideology. See: Justin Trudeux's recent outburst.

Being woke isn’t necessarily meant to be popular or cool. Neither is supporting the fight for a level playing field. It’s quite simply really fucking important. But jumping upon the ‘right on’ band wagon doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve earned the 'woke' badge and the same goes for the gaggle of famous people who are jumping to fall into line. Playing woke doesn't create woke, and it's not the way we're going to change the world.

Follow Jazmin on Instagram @JazKopotsha

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us