New York Times bestselling author adrienne maree brown is another influential Black activist who has grown weary of the ubiquitous cancel culture lynch-mobs. It became very personal to her recently:
“Simultaneously I’ve watched several public takedowns, call outs, and other grievances take place on social and mainstream media. Some of those have been of strangers, but recently I’ve had the experience of seeing people I know and love targeted and taken down. In most cases, very complex realities get watered down into one flawed aspect of these people’s personalities, or one mistake or misunderstanding. A mob mentality takes over then, an evisceration of character that is punitive, traumatizing, and isolating.”
Brown gives an eloquent description of the cruelty and heartlessness of the so-called “woke” generation:
“We then tear that person or group to shreds in a way that affirms our values. We create memes, reducing someone to the laughing stock of the Internet that day. We write think-pieces on how we are not like that person, and obviously wouldn’t make the same mistakes they have made. We deconstruct them as thinkers, activists, groups, bodies, partners, parents, children—finding all of the contradictions and limitations and shining bright light on them. When we are satisfied that that person or group is destroyed, we move on. Or sometimes we just move on because the next scandal has arrived, the smell of fresh meat overwhelming our interest in finishing the takedown.”
Brown asks questions the cancel culture lynch-mobs are afraid to answer:
“I wonder: is this what we’re here for? To cultivate a fear-based adherence to reductive common values? What can this lead to in an imperfect world full of sloppy, complex humans? Is it possible we will call each other out until there’s no one left beside us? I’ve had tons of conversations with people who, in these moments of public flaying, avoid stepping up on the side of complexity or curiosity because in the back of our minds is the shared unspoken question: when will y’all come for me?”
Brown calls for compassion and understanding, not a climate of fear and retribution:
“How do I hold a systemic analysis and approach when each system I am critical of is peopled, in part, by the same flawed and complex individuals that I love? This question always leads me to self-reflection. If I can see the ways I am perpetuating systemic oppressions, if I can see where I learned the behavior and how hard it is to unlearn it, I start to have more humility as I see the messiness of the communities I am part of, the world I live in.
“The places I’m drawn to in movement espouse a desire for transformative justice—justice practices that go all the way to the root of the problem and generate solutions and healing there, such that the conditions that create injustice are transformed. When the response to mistakes, failures, and misunderstandings is emotional, psychological, economic, and physical punishment, we breed a culture of fear, secrecy, and isolation.”
Just one solution is sincerely asking Why?, which leads to empathy and actual transformative justice:
“So I’m wondering, in a real way: How can we pivot toward practicing transformative justice? How do we shift from individual, interpersonal, and inter-organizational anger toward viable, generative, sustainable systemic change?
“Listen with Why? as a framework. People mess up. We lie, exaggerate, betray, hurt, and abandon each other. When we hear that something bad has happened, it makes sense to feel anger, pain, confusion, and sadness. But to move immediately to punishment means that we stay on the surface of what has happened.
“To transform the conditions of the ‘wrongdoing,’ we have to ask ourselves and each other ‘Why?’ Even— especially—when we are scared of the answer. It’s easy to decide a person or group is shady, evil, psychopathic. The hard truth (hard because there’s no quick fix) is that long-term injustice creates most evil behavior. The percentage of psychopaths in the world is just not high enough to justify the ease with which we attempt to label that condition to others.
“In my mediations, Why? is often the game-changing, possibility-opening question. That’s because the answers re-humanize those we feel are perpetrating against us. Why? often leads us to grief, abuse, trauma, often undiagnosed mental illnesses like depression or bipolar disorder, difference, socialization, childhood, scarcity, loneliness. Also, Why? makes it impossible to ignore that we might be capable of a similar transgression in similar circumstances. We don’t want to see that….”
On Cancel Culture, Accountability, and Transformative Justice https://lithub.com/on-cancel-culture-accountability-and-transformative-justice/
Further enlightened reading and photo:
Cancel Culture: A Shameless Plea https://thriveglobal.com/stories/cancel-culture-a-shameless-plea/
The Evil of “Woke”: Black Feminist On Call-Out Culture https://www.mybestbuddymedia.com/2020/11/the-evil-of-woke-black-feminist-on-call.html
5 Intelligent Ways To Change Someone’s Mind https://www.mybestbuddymedia.com/2020/12/5-intelligent-ways-to-change-someones.html
Bill Maher, Megyn Kelly and 9 Politically Correct Lunacies https://www.mybestbuddymedia.com/2020/03/bill-maher-megyn-kelly-and-9.html
The Harmful Effects of Today’s University Thought Police https://www.mybestbuddymedia.com/2018/12/the-harmful-effects-of-todays.html
Top 5 Examples of Extreme Political Correctness https://www.mybestbuddymedia.com/2018/12/top-5-examples-of-politically-correct.html
The Dark Psychology of Social Media Manipulation https://www.mybestbuddymedia.com/2019/12/the-dark-psychology-of-social-media.html
16 Quick Tips To Enhance Clarity Of Thought https://www.mybestbuddymedia.com/2019/05/16-quick-tips-to-enhance-clarity-of.html
30 Prying and Probing Questions To Bolster Critical Thinking http://www.mybestbuddymedia.com/2016/10/30-prying-and-probing-questions-to.html
Pitchforks & Torches: 9 Excesses of the #MeToo Movement http://www.mybestbuddymedia.com/2018/05/pitchforks-torches-9-excesses-of-metoo.html
9 Basic Ways We Fool Ourselves Into Believing Things That Aren’t True http://www.mybestbuddymedia.com/2018/04/9-basic-ways-we-fool-ourselves-into.html