Are We Too Quick to Cancel People?

To cancel someone (in slang) means to stop associating with someone, to kill someone off (literally or figuratively), or to disown someone. You’ll often hear this word associated with African American celebrities such as Kanye West, R. Kelly, Bill Cosby, Nate Parker, Roland Martin, and anyone who’s a fan or supporter of public figures who are problematic. When someone is “canceled”, its often because something they said or something they did was problematic, causing and promoting racism, sexism, colorist, misogyny, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia, and other types of prejudice. In a time when our political climate is high, information can spread like wildfire, and social media helps bring bigotry and discrimination to the forefront, many people often use their voices online and in person to confront social issues and encouraging others to not support certain public figures and politicians. I’ll admit there are some people who I’ve canceled due to personal and political reasons, and there are some people I am willing to give leniency to because of the nature of the person. Many of my friends as well have no problem canceling people, but I also have friends who aren’t into “canceling” people, and there are numerous other people online who’ve been vocal about it. Some people believe it can do more damage than good. It got me thinking, and got me wanting to open the conversation to you all, are we quick to cancel people? Do we not give people room to grow?

On one hand, as one of my friends put it, canceling someone and call-out culture can be damaging and on the cusps of bullying. We all make mistakes and most of us haven’t always been politically correct, even those who claim to be now. There have been numerous instances where people have been dragged, bullied, and attacked just for having a different view about a current social issue (it might not even be a problematic statement they made). There also been a trend of “activists” dragging people on social media and encouraging their followers to bully the person they are dragging, and when confronted about their behavior, no repercussions or acts of accountability are brought about to the “activist” causing the drama, some social media sites don’t even do anything about it (even if you report it). It’s counterproductive to deny harass and encourage others to harass someone for having a difference in opinion, that’s problematic and causes disunity itself. Also, there’s no point in canceling someone when we’re not consistent with it. How many times have we canceled Azealia Banks, Omarosa, Chrisette Michele, and other female celebrities for the same thing our male counterparts do and say?

Now while there’s no need to promote bullying and cause a mental or social crisis, there is a time when we do need to cancel people. Even with canceling people, we don’t need to be vicious, but some people do need to be held accountable for their actions.

When discussing this topic amongst my circle of friends, I have to admit, I don’t believe we are too quick to cancel people. I actually believe there are times when we can be too lenient and contradict ourselves. As one of my friends put it, “It’s 2018. I just don’t have room for people not being on their shit. You’re an adult. Get with it or get lost”. As blunt as this may sound I do agree. Technology is more accessible than it’s ever been. It takes literally seconds to find out why something said or done is offensive, what issues are going on in the world, and how these issues are affecting the people around you. Unfortunately, there are people who choose to be ignorant and blind to certain issues. Some people love to be loud and wrong. Along with being ignorant on certain issues, canceling someone is necessary when someone makes comments or performs actions that dismiss their target audience/the audience that helped them get to where they are today. When you make comments that belittle and offends people of color, different genders and sexual orientation, and lower economic backgrounds, and they’ve been your supporters from day one, you can’t expect them to support you after the comments you’ve made, and they have every right to cancel you. For instance, you can’t expect black people to support a rapper that supports a fascist President…(no shaded intended).

After thinking about everything expressed to me, I believe we don’t cancel people too quickly, but there are some people who need to be checked or educated on certain issues. Some people do deserve a chance to redeem themselves, while others deserve to not be supported by us. I also believe that some people don’t like the idea of “canceling” someone because it starts to make others think about the people within their circle. “Canceling” someone requires us to hold some of the people we love accountable for their actions, and sometimes people aren’t ready to realize they’re associated with a problematic person. If you have a platform, make sure you don’t mistreat anyone who helped you get there. If you’re around people or follow celebrities who may be problematic, do thorough research first, then act accordingly…even if that means discontinuing your support for them.