Date of Completion


Embargo Period



woke; critical consciousness; racism; racial inequality; social justice; Black/African American; intergroup relations

Major Advisor

Felicia Pratto

Associate Advisor

Colin W. Leach

Associate Advisor

Shayla C. Nunnally

Field of Study



Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


The present dissertation examines how being woke, that is, having in-depth knowledge about the historically rooted and endemic nature of anti-Black racism can increase individuals’ perceptions of present-day racism. The first paper outlines the development and validation of a modern-measure of critical consciousness, the Critical Racism Awareness Woke Scale, which can be used to understand knowledge and beliefs regarding issues of anti-Black racism among both Black and White individuals. The remaining papers in the dissertation demonstrate that having critical racism awareness can increase the tendency to perceive anti-Black racism within interpersonal and structural incidents of racial bias. Across these studies I demonstrate that while Black individuals have a greater tendency to perceive anti-Black racism in the U.S. compared to White individuals, critical racism awareness is apparent in both groups and is predictive of perceptions and evaluations of racism. In comparing my measure to previous methodologies used to assess critical knowledge of anti-Black racism, I demonstrate that being woke is a stronger predictor of racism than these previously used methods (e.g., performance on a Black history quiz). The dissertation concludes with a brief discussion of the motivations behind this work and the theoretical, methodological, and applied contributions that the present work has to the social-psychological study of anti-Black racism in U.S. society.