- Cancel culture refers to the popular practice of withdrawing support for (cancelling) public figures and companies after they have done or said something considered objectionable or offensive.
- Cancel culture is generally discussed as being performed on social media in the form of group shaming.
- For Zuki, 26* a tweet resulted in her losing her job, professional reputation and work opportunities. Here is her story.
I was quite popular on Twitter; one would even refer to me as a 'tweleb'. Twitter was my diary and an outlet to voice my opinions and views. I enjoyed interacting with black Twitter, and I've actually gained so much wisdom and knowledge from there.
Twitter opened me up to a different world where people have different views, which has taught me a lot about life. But the platform has changed over the years, but I never expected that the very same app I used as an outlet to share banter would cost me my job and work opportunities.
Cancel culture became prominent in 2019 when celebrities and public figures would get cancelled mostly by black Twitter. It happened in 2020 for me. Black twitter cancelled me because I defended Superbalist when they were accused of being racist.
2020 was a challenging year for most of us, especially for black people, due to racial inequality and George Floyd's passing. It led to social media taken over by a stream of posts showing simple black square images.
These posts, often tagged with #BlackoutTuesday, were gestures of solidarity with protests against the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. I was among the millions of people who posted a black square on their feed.
However, when Superbalist pretended like it was business as usual and didn't stand in solidarity with the rest of the world and that upset black twitter. Quite a number of people were disappointed, and the brand was even cancelled for a while. I was the outlier who didn't see the need for the brand to post a black square in the name of fake solidarity.
Let's be honest; most people and brands were just doing it for clout, nothing more. Nothing was going to change after posting that, and no black person would be promoted to a senior position or feel seen or heard.
I respected the brand for being honest and not being performative, and unfortunately, that resulted in me being cancelled by black Twitter. All I did was voice out my opinion and defend the brand. Unfortunately, black Twitter didn't see it that way.
I was labelled 'a dog of white monopoly' and against people of colour. I tweeted that Superbalist has and will probably always be a good brand. Their sales won't be affected by an outcry from social media, and if we are honest, I respect them for not being fake.
They know posting a black image or discussing racial issues won't change anything. Following that tweet, I also said that black Twitter is performative because they won't be cancelling Superbalist, just in the same way they didn't cancel H&M when it faced backlash over its monkey sweatshirt ad.
They all pretended like they would never go shop there again, but once that died down, it was business as usual. I also said black people need to stop doing things for clout. It's okay to stand for something, but don't lie and say you're going to stop shopping there; it's quite hypocritical.
I even said that I've never stopped shopping at H&M or even stopped using Dove products because they once had a racist ad. The brands I worked with found out and terminated our professional contract with immediate effect because they did not want to be associated with me.
I later tried to explain the tweets to them, but I kind of understand why they had to disassociate themselves from me. I was even getting criticised and bullied over things that had nothing to do with the tweets. People were just hateful, and I think certain people were waiting for the day I got cancelled to bully me.
There was even a hashtag that I must fall and that I should be cancelled. They even started dragging my family into the mess, and that's where I draw the line. You can come for me, but not my family, please! I'm trying to build my brand again, and it hasn't been an easy journey.
I understand why people disagreed with my views and opinions, but I think we are all entitled to our thoughts and views. Cancel culture poses a toxic way to hold public figures accountable for their actions, leading to fear rather than genuine change.
Rather than cancelling, individuals should make a stance to educate and promote growth rather than creating fear of cancelling.
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