25 minutes | Jul 28th 2020

2:23 What Is Cancel Culture And What Do We Do About It?

Cancel culture is difficult to define and widely viewed in a negative light. It could be defined as a modern form of protest or boycott and therefore it has an important role to play in fighting for justice. In this episode we will define cancel culture, discuss when cancellation is called for, and provide suggestions on what to do if you get canceled.

  • Defining Cancel Culture: 
    • Cancelling could mean: getting called out, getting called out publicly, losing social media followers, getting fired, getting boycotted, physical threats, having your statue torn down, etc. 


  • When is cancellation called for?  Where to draw the line
    • Many Americans have a negative view of cancel culture, but some say it is a way to hold people accountable.  
    • Social media has provided a platform to many people who have been denied a platform in the past.  New voices are being heard, especially from people who have been marginalized.  
    • “Everyone thinks there are lines.  The question is where are those lines and who gets to draw them.” - Osita Nwanevu


  • What if I get canceled? 
    • Examine your words/behaviors that are being called out and ask yourself two simple questions: First, were you right or were you wrong? And second, if you were right, is this worth sacrificing for?   


“What It Means to Get ‘Canceled’.”

Lizza, Ryan. “Americans tune in to ‘cancel culture’ -- and don’t like what they see.” Politico, July 22, 2020.

Rowling, J.K., Margaret Atwood, Noam Chomsky, David Brooks, Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie, Gloria Steinem, Fareed Zakaria, et al. “A Letter on Justice and Open Debate.” Harper’s Magazine. July 7, 2020.

Butler, Danielle. “The Misplaced Hysteria About a ‘Cancel Culture’ that Doesn’t Actually Exist. The Root. Oct. 23, 2018.

Owens, Ernest. “Obama’s Very Boomer View of ‘Cancel Culture’”. The New York Times. Nov. 1, 2019.

Further Reading

Binkowski, Brooke, et al. “A More Specific Letter on Justice and Open Debate.” The Objective, July 7, 2020.

Chiu, Allyson. “Wall Street Journal staffers asked the editorial board for more accuracy. The board bemoaned ‘cancel culture.’” Washington Post. July 24, 2020.

Hagi, Sarah. “Cancel Culture Is Not Real -- At Least Not in the Way People Think.”  Time. Nov. 21, 2019.

Yassmin Abdel-Magied, Instagram

“I think the conversations around cancel culture are missing the point. Powerful people have been ‘cancelling’ for centuries, they just used terms like ‘colonising’ or ‘civilising.’ The ‘cancel culture’ of today is nowhere near as dangerous as ‘cancellation’ has been for millions around the world. What we are seeing now is individuals being forced to be accountable for their actions, called out by folks who traditionally haven’t had much structural power. The reality is that those ‘called out’ individuals may experience discomfort, but materially their lives will remain intact- they will still be able to work and earn money, sell the product,etc."


Song Credit: “Away” by Geographer and “Beach Disco” by Dougie Wood  


Play Next
Mark Played