The last few weeks Instagram has become an ugly place to be, and I’ve tried to be on it as little as possible, to focus on myself, and not to absorb any more of its negativity.
But last week, the internet showed its ass and displayed its cancelling power in full force as may British celebs were the hounded off social media when their old racist/colourist tweets were exposed. And some of the comments on these posts have been expressing the idea that we need to de-normalise the idea that anti-blackness sentiment in the as past is a thing.
But let’s be real, the late ’90s and early 2000s was a messed up time even without Twitter. Most of us held less than admirable views, or were treated less than admirably, when we were young, and we’re only now realising that these views were messed up because we are only just learning to love ourselves and understand our worth, a worth that our whole society- our parents, teachers and friends included- told us that we didn’t deserve.
And it’s the same for all for these influencers. The difference with them is that they catalogued their messed up past on twitter while the rest of us did not.
And whilst most of us believe that we’ve changed, that we’d never go back to hating ourselves, and that the person we are now shouldn’t be judge based on the person we used to be, we forget to afford that same grace to people in the limelight.
We need to give people second chances, and that should apply to everyone. Nobody – not a single person- living or growing up in the West was born Woke. We were born into an anti-black world and taught anti-blackness from a young age, either outright or institutionally. Unlearning that is a process that takes time and years of dialogue. But by cancelling people, you stunt that dialogue and shame people in forced, fake apologies which only end that public process of re-valuation.
Now, that doesn’t mean that everyone is exempt. Cancelling can be a useful tool for showing people the new repercussions of bigotry and prejudice – this isn’t the 20’s you can’t treat people any type of way and expect nothing to happen, or to come back to you. Rape jokes, comparing dark skin people and women to animals are cancellable offences, and, if the person is above a certain age, I don’t believe that any apology that they give could ever be genuine.
But all of these fake apologies and public lashings brought on by cancelling, only cheapens the movement and makes it look like an act that people need to put on in order to be accepted, rather than the actual major social and psychological shift that it should be.
Some people were always suspect-and their Tweets only reinforced those suspicions. But for others, their tweets came as a shock and these are the ones who deserve a second chance. With people like Nella Rose, we need to accept that that they made a mistake, and can be given a second chance, especially if they’ve proven, as of recently, that what they are being condemned for is not how they live their life now.
Change is a real thing, and while I’m not saying that Cancel Culture should be abolished entirely, for Cancel culture to be effective at all, using social media as a public execution ground is not the answer. We need use it correctly, intently and on the right people; not bay for the blood of anyone with a past that none of us can whole-heartedly say we were not a part of. But we also can’t bend the moment someone gives a fake apology to shut us up and keep their career moving. For real change to be affected, there needs to be a balance and genuine repercussions, if we’re going to cancel someone, we need to do it all the way, and not let a fake apologies make us forget that someone holds shitty views. BUT before we call for someone to be locked in the stocks, we also have to makes sure that that this person absolutely isn’t genuine, or risk cancel culture losing its purpose and integrity all together.
Image Credit: New York Times