You’re Using “Woke” Wrong

The evolution of an increasingly meaningless word.


Episode Notes

From “woke bae” to “woke-a-cola,” the word woke has taken the internet and mainstream media by storm. But how many people who use the word actually know what it means? On today’s episode, Rachelle and Madison (but, really, mostly Rachelle) explain the decades-old origins of the word, and how its meaning has evolved as it’s gone from being sung as a call to “stay woke” by the likes of Erykah Badu and Childish Gambino to being wielded as a slur by the likes of Mike Huckabee.

Podcast production by Daniel Schroeder, Derek John, and Jasmine Ellis.


About the Show

Join Madison Malone Kircher and Rachelle Hampton twice a week as they gaze deep into the online abyss—and tell you what’s gazing back. All episodes


  • Rachelle Hampton is a culture writer and reporter at Slate and co-host of ICYMI. Her work has appeared in the New Republic, Pacific Standard, Smithsonian Magazine, and In These Times. She still hasn't recovered from Tumblr’s demise.

  • Madison Malone Kircher is a senior writer at Slate and co-host of ICYMI. She was previously a staff writer at New York magazine, where she covered internet culture and edited New York’s Approval Matrix. Her work has appeared in Vogue, Vulture, and the Cut. Madison lives in Brooklyn, where she regularly drops her phone on her face watching TikToks in bed.