In the vast, barren landscape that is social media in 2016, the phrase “stay woke” actually tends to mean something—a signal that one’s eyes are open to the realities of inequality and oppression that plague America, particularly in the age of Black Lives Matter. Still, like all eye-grabbing phrases, the idea of wokeness has often been reduced to a hashtag on Twitter, accompanying a never-ending stream of Harambe conspiracy theories, DJ Khaled quotes, and Ken Bone jokes.
Now, instead of proclaiming one’s status as an advocate for social justice online, enlightened individuals can also express their wokeness through a new “Stay Woke” IPA from not one, but two breweries: The Veil Brewing Co. in Richmond, Virginia, and New York City’s Antagonist Ales.
At best, the beers are being viewed as yet another example of companies awkwardly adopting millennial slang in an attempt to seem relevant. At worst, the Stay Woke ales are being criticized for making light of the social justice movements currently gripping the country.
“[The beers] seemingly have nothing to do with social consciousness and everything to do with ham-handedly co-opting a phrase the companies thought sounded cool,” Fusions Charles Pulliam-Moore wrote on Tuesday in an article titled “White people have started making ‘Stay Woke’ beer.” “Given the fact that many people have used the phrase ‘stay woke’ as a warning to others in the aftermath of brutal, racially-charged police shootings that have left black and brown people dead, one wonders whether the people at Antagonist Ales fully understood the gravity of the name that they’d chosen.”
Indeed, neither brewery seems to be making a statement about police brutality or the plight of marginalized people with their new products. Instead, Veil described its Stay Woke beer as having a “dank, intense, hoppiness,” while Antagonist Ales chose the name because its first beer “came up dead” and the brewery need an “awakening.” The Veil Brewing Co. did not immediatly respond to First We Feast's request for comment.
As Fusion notes, the beers come on the heels of a powerful statement from Ben & Jerry’s last week, which pledged the ice cream company’s full support to the Black Lives Matter movement. Thankfully, the letter was not attached to a themed ice-cream flavor, instead urging its customers to stand together against injustice and police violence.