‘wokerati’: meaning and origin

The noun wokerati is a derogatory appellation for people—regarded as elitist and pretentious—who are alert to racial or social discrimination and injustice.

This noun is a blend of the adjective woke, meaning alert to racial or social discrimination and injustice, and of the noun literati, denoting intellectuals.

The noun wokerati was infamously used on Tuesday 18th October 2022 by the British Conservative politician Suella Braverman 1 during a debate on the Public Order Bill in the House of Commons; she declared the following about “the extremists who stick themselves to trains, glue themselves to roads, interfere with newspaper distribution, vandalise properties, disrupt the fuel supply, disrupt this Chamber, or block ambulances2:

It was a central purpose of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, now an Act, to properly empower the police in face of the protests, yet Opposition Members voted against it. Had Opposition Members in the other place not blocked these measures when they were in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, the police would have already had many of the powers in this Bill and the British people would not have been put through this grief. Yes, I am afraid that it is the Labour party, the Lib Dems, the coalition of chaos, the Guardian-reading 3, tofu-eating wokerati and, dare I say, the anti-growth coalition that we have to thank for the disruption we are seeing on our roads today.

1 Suella Braverman (born 1980) is actively involved in protecting conservative values, which she regards as being under threat from liberals. She was Liz Truss’s Home Secretary from Tuesday 6th September 2022 to Wednesday 19th October 2022.
2 Suella Braverman was particularly referring to Just Stop Oil, a British environmental activist group using civil resistance and direct action with the aim of ensuring that the UK Government commits to halting fossil-fuel licensing and production.
3The Guardian (London and Manchester, England) is a centre-left daily newspaper, and its readers are seen as being typically left-wing, liberal and politically correct.—Cf. Guardianista.

The earliest occurrences of the noun wokerati that I have found are as follows, in chronological order:

1-: From The Baltimore Sun (Baltimore, Maryland, USA) of Sunday 30th June 2019:

‘Wokerati’ schooled me on taking offense
By Lisa Simeone

Oh, dear. I have just discovered that I’m supposed to be offended. Furthermore, apparently I should have been taking offense for most of my life. Who knew?
You see, I’m a first-generation Italian-American. I have dark hair, dark eyes, and skin that tans after 10 minutes in the sun. All my life, people have asked me what nationality I am—how quaint, such an old-fashioned word—or where I’m from.
Apparently, these are offensive questions. They are “micro-aggressions.” They are “othering” me, treating me as if I’m not a born-and-bred American. As if I don’t belong here.
All this time, I thought these questions were intriguing. Fun. Harmless. I just figured that people like the exotic (oops—there’s another word I’m not allowed to use anymore), that imagining someone they met might be “different” was interesting to them, a little anthropological fillip in the routine of their day.
Ah, but not according to the wokerati. They have schooled me. Here I thought I was leading a nice, comfortable, fulfilling life when in reality I have been lumbering through a “Slough of Despond.”
If I’m reading the terrain correctly, I think I can anticipate the objections to my indifference: “You’re not a member of a minority. That’s why it’s not the same for you.”
But is that logical? If a statement is, de facto, a micro-aggression, then wouldn’t its use apply to everyone, not just a certain select group? And if not, then who gets to decide under what circumstances it is or isn’t a micro-aggression? If I’m not offended by it, who’s to tell me I should be?
Maybe I should try a new tack. The next time someone asks me where I’m from, I must rise up in high dudgeon and give him or her (am I allowed to use those pronouns anymore?) a tongue-lashing about—actually, I don’t know what exactly. Racism? Sexism? Ethnicism? (Is that even a word?) Surely there is an -ism du jour that will do. Who says an old dog can’t learn new tricks?
The wokerati have spoken. I would so hate to disappoint them.

2-: From The Stakes: America at the Point of No Return (Washington, D.C.: Regnery Publishing, 2020), by the U.S. conservative essayist Michael Anton (born 1969):

In a way, the friars’ missionary zeal lives on in modern California, which insists on sweeping aside—even attacking as evil—norms, standards, and traditions observed for millennia. So you’ve become used to distinguishing “male” from “female” using English pronouns that predate Chaucer? Here comes the California Wokerati—headquartered in Berkeley, Santa Cruz, Westwood, and the Castro, backed by Malibu and Menlo-Atherton money—to cancel you for being Literally Hitler. Such provocations are in part tests to see if you really belong. Those who can adapt, quickly and enthusiastically—who affirm the New Normal without a moment’s hesitation—can stay. Those who can’t or won’t—well, that’s what Idaho is for. California is reserved for the Elect.

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