The Conscious Corner by Maceo Z. Keeling, Sr. –
Cancel Culture, loosely defined, is when a person is ostracized or “kicked out” of a group for speaking or writing in a manner that is considered “socially unacceptable” by a larger group or society.
It’s a modern form of ostracism, to thrust someone out of social or professional circles, whether it be on social media or in person. Those subject to this ostracism are said to have been “cancelled.”
This practice of “cancelling” or mass shaming often occurs on social media platforms. When it occurs, it can bring about great financial consequence along with public humiliation. Certainly, we should be held accountable for our words and actions—and oftentimes I agree with the group when someone is challenged over comments they make that are untrue or unfounded. The law makes provisions for a remedy for that.
This is not new. At its core, cancel culture is simply shaming and social bullying.
Where would we be today if Nicolaus Copernicus had been cancelled? He was the first Western thinker to propose that earth moves around the sun—though the Greek astronomer, Aristarchus of Samos (ca. 310-230 BCE), had developed the same theory in eighteen centuries earlier.
Of course the example has little to do with social justice issues or acceptable behavior, but it speaks to a deeper challenge. How do we discern the difference between deeply ingrained social biases that impede our social liberties and thinking that advances our world view?
America is not the center of the world. American culture is little more than the new kid on the block with the best new toys and therefore able to tell everyone else what is cool.
Cancel culture erodes the imagination and attempts to bully the individual into “herd” thinking. We embrace what is trending instead of thinking through for ourselves what we espouse as our opinion or position on a topic or action.
We as Black Americans are notorious for this kind of cancelling. We prosecute each other for thinking differently from the majority of Blacks—or anyone else, for that matter. If you study hard, “you’re a nerd.” If you get a good education and speak well, you’re “tryin’ to act white.” If we have a desirable job, position, business, or station in life, “you’re a house [N-word].” If you vote Republican, you’re an “uncle tom,” or worse—a traitor!
These methods of cancel culture drive divisions among and between Black folk. Why separate ourselves from independent thinking and different approaches to our own well-being? Why do we all have to do it the same way it’s always been done?
So ask yourself: Are you guilty of a “crab in a barrel” mentality—or a cancel culture? I have stated that many times we need to challenge folk on socially unacceptable behaviors, but the reasons and decisions for cancellation are all over the place. Furthermore, because there is little rigor to the decision of the group to cancel someone, the act is reduced to whatever is trending in the media at the moment.
We can do better…think about it!
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