Progress and wins from past social movements make clear how critical resilience and solidarity are in sustaining our work as progressive activists. But as racist, misogynistic and other oppressive rhetoric and behavior thrives under the Trump administration, some of us can be quick to “cancel” (dismiss or invalidate) our comrades and allies for their mistakes instead of practicing grace and resilience. Unfortunately, instincts like this risk endangering our social progress and our impact.
In the February 22 episode of “The Progressive Happy Hour,” cohost Drew Courtney talks to guest and cohost Cici Battle about what “cancel culture” reveals about today’s diverse group of activists, and how creating space and learning from our mistakes helps build resilience and diversify our vision of justice.
Cici referenced a comment she made at the YP4 15th Anniversary National Summit to contextualize what’s behind the cancel culture that has emerged in progressive spaces: “Often times, we say ‘the movement’ as a theoretical concept … but when we broke it down, it was like, ‘Oh, the movement is people – people who bring their personal experiences, trauma, baggage to the work … [Many] of us are people of color … part of the LGBTQ community … from low socioeconomic backgrounds …Actions that can tear down [or] be snarky [are] a manifestation of untreated trauma.”
Cici emphasized how radical leadership can play a critical role in shaping and cultivating resilience within the progressive movement. “How we get to a place of talking about some of the stickiness that happens among people in the movement is to …recognize our humanity within each other.” She continued, “We need to own up to [our mistakes.] Our call to action for everyone who is in the movement or trying to get into the movement is to be a good person … [You] can hold [people] accountable in a way that doesn’t push them out of this work.”
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