Activism Future Building Personal Growth Relationships

Allow room for allies to make mistakes — because we all make them

Replied to we will not cancel us by AdrienneAdrienne (

We hurt people.

Of course we did, we are human. We were traumatized/socialized away from interdependence. We learned to hide everything real, everything messy, weak, complex. We learned that fake shit hurts, but it’s acceptable…

Canceling is punishment, and punishment doesn’t stop the cycle of harm, not long term.

We will be accountable, rigorous in our accountability, all of us unlearning, all of us crawling towards dignity. We will learn to set and hold boundaries, communicate without manipulation, give and receive consent, ask for help, love our shadows without letting them rule our relationships…

Shaming and condemning mistakes simply makes others less willing to try or speak up, and less willing to admit their mistakes. This has a chilling effect to keep people in line with what the loudest have decided is right, even when there are valid arguments for other perspectives, and hardly encourages relationship building across identities and ideals. Righteousness is just as unhelpful from the liberal corner as it is from the conservative.

You can hold people accountable without being a dick about it. Not to tone police, but sometimes people on social media talk about others as if they aren’t a person too, and the intensity of condemnation feels greater than the sin. “Nice” is bullshit, but you can be kind and critical.

I guess I’m pretty sympathetic to the choices workers feel they have to make to survive under capitalism. I’m thinking of a disabled person who was cancelled (I think in 2022) when it came out they worked at a military research company for the health insurance and flexible work conditions. Some of the cancelling might have been because they had cancelled others in the past? But that’s just perpetuating the cycle. I’d rather see the conversation “and this is why you shouldn’t cancel people folks” than a dog pile of shame.

We talk about how there is no ethical consumption under capitalism, and I wonder how much that extends to our lives too. It very much becomes a judgment call of what crosses the line to be part of the progressive tribe: ok, working at military companies is out, how about tech companies? Is it only bad if you work on Google’s military contracting projects, or is the whole company tainted? What about working for social media companies that sell our data, if you’re in another department? Is working in anything involving marketing out? How about owning a house, knowing the land was stolen from indigenous people and our treaties with them not honored? How about owning an iPhone knowing that conditions are so bad workers commit suicide on shift? Is catching an Uber home from the airport ok? Is flying ok? Shopping at Amazon?

It is easy to judge others’ choices but defend our own hypocrisies and compromises, instead of helping people recognize the harm they are causing, acknowledging and making up for ours, and working to change the systems that force people into hard choices (like advocating for universal health care and fixing our disability qualifications). I’m not naming or excusing any choices here, and also not supporting social punishment.

The lines I draw for myself are different from everyone else’s, and may change over time with my perspective and circumstances. I have the privilege of owning a home, being married to someone whose job gives me health care, and having a good savings and no student loans; that gives me the ability to make choices others cannot. Physical ability, wealth, family support, obligations and debts, and mental health all shape our decisions.

Maybe some of my perspective here comes from years of being a vegetarian. Many people took my personal calculus to be a judgment on their choice to eat meat, but it really was a personal decision; all I wanted from others was for there to be literally anything I could eat if they hosted (I usually just brought something). Now, for a variety of reasons I’ve become pescetarian. Maybe one day I’ll go veg again, or maybe someday I’ll start eating meat 🤷‍♀️ We can’t necessarily predict how our circumstances will change our choices.

Systems of oppression and those in power acting unjustly should be the main targets of action, while we offer solidarity to workers doing their best to get by, even if sometimes they screw up. It’s easier to attack or ostracize a nobody than to speak truth to power — but it’s a poor outlet for emotional pain and frustration. Purity and ideological perfection are dangerous social concepts, and I would rather have people feel safe enough to make mistakes than withdraw from community for fear.

See also:

The addictive nature of Twitter

Cancel Culture

Activism Learning Resources and Reference

Disability justice for organizations

Bookmarked Disability Justice Audit (

“Disability Justice: An Audit Tool” is aimed at helping Black, Indigenous and POC-led organizations (that are not primarily focused around disability) examine where they’re at in practicing disability justice, and where they want to learn and grow. It includes questions for self-assessment, links to access tools, organizational stories and more.

Activism Society

Watched Don’t Talk to the Police

Watched Don’t Talk to the Police from YouTube

Regent Law Professor James Duane gives viewers startling reasons why they should always exercise their 5th Amendment rights when questioned by government off…

Actually just watched the lawyer half 😉

Interesting that anything you say “can and will be used against you” but CANNOT be used to help you as it is hearsay 🙄

Only harm can come out of talking to the police, you cannot benefit. The Fifth Amendment is intended to protect the innocent.

Activism Comics History

Read Good Trouble

Read Good Trouble by Christopher Noxon

Good Trouble is the helpful antidote to all the pessimism and name-calling that is permeating today’s political and social dialogues. Revisiting episodes from the civil rights movement of the 1950s and ’60s, it highlights the essential lessons that modern-day activists and the civically minded can extract and embrace in order to move forward and create change. In words and vivid pen-and-watercolor illustrations, journalist Christopher Noxon dives into the real stories behind the front lines of the Montgomery bus boycott and the Greensboro lunch counter sit-ins and notable figures such as Rosa Parks and Bayard Rustin, all while exploring the parallels between the civil rights movement era and the present moment. This thoughtful, fresh approach is sure to inspire conversation, action, and, most importantly, hope.

Really enjoyed this illustrated book drawing lessons from the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. It tells the story of everyday activists and how they fit into the movement, and is empowering and hopeful while acknowledging that all the bad shit is still happening and the struggle never ended. A good read for me right now with the stress of world events weighing on my anxiety.

The sketchy art style is unassuming and lively, a good fit for the serious subject matter not to be tied to exact realism.

The chapters / lessons:

  • Be brave
  • Get organized
  • Be bold
  • Have faith
  • Be nonviolent
  • Lead!
  • Keep focus
  • Be joyous
Activism Art and Design Society The Internet

Nuance and ambiguity

Bookmarked Art Should Be a Doorway, Not a Mirror by Lincoln Michel (Counter Craft)

There is a difference between attacking bigotry and in demanding that art be unambiguous is its moral messaging.

The ostensible ideologies of these art police run the gamut from conservatives like Jerry Falwell to centrists like Tipper Gore to self-professed progressives and leftists. But what unites these people is aesthetic puritanism. They view art as a series of moral lessons that must be entirely unambiguous. Reading the tweets during these scandals, you see the same claims over and over again. Stories must be uplifting, characters “likable,” messages clear, and all bad or messy or immoral lines/characters/events must be explicitly rebutted in the text.

This is a perspective from which satire cannot exist, or must be so blatantly obvious no reasonable person could possibly think it was valid (Poe’s law). This is tied to the challenge of interpreting intention from text or images without the benefit of tags like emojis and /s. These markers arose in our online communication for the same reason: fear of being misinterpreted through the worst lens. Art does not carry those same markers, but we’ve become used to being assured of when a thought is mocking or sarcastic. We’re afraid of identifying “wrong,” of being grouped with those who do harm, and leap to signal our “good” identity by defending any possible attack. It’s a defensive mechanic via aggression.

Although this particular flavor of art puritanism claims to be progressive, their insistence on purity tends to harm exactly the people they claim to be protecting. It is queer authors like Isabel Fall who must out themselves, or victims of sexual assault like Kate Elizabeth Russell who are pressured to publicly state their trauma in order for their fiction—remember what that word means?—to be permitted.

Only once we’re assured the artist isn’t intending harm, is nuance or darkness or satire acceptable.

I ran a satirical project for a time, but we reached a point politically where I was too scared of the satire being misinterpreted and pulled back on it.

This attack response has such a strong chilling effect on artists it becomes a form of censorship — just as showing up with lethal weapons at a protest is chilling to free speech. When some nutjob with an AK gets to decide whether you deserve to live or die, that deters valid protest of any form. Not to validate it, but vandalism or property damage is not punishable by the death sentence under the law, except that right wing vigilantes have decided that it should be. And being on the right side of the law doesn’t matter after you’ve been murdered — so why risk letting someone who hates you getting to decide whether you’ve committed a killing offense in their eyes? Online attack mobs probably won’t kill you (unless they SWAT you), but they can slander you, make you lose your job, force you to disclose private experiences, harass you to the point of a mental breakdown, threaten you with rape and murder… Art and activism are strongly bound, but our culture of vigilante justice makes it a brave act to pursue either in an age of paranoid reading.

Activism Art and Design

Interrogate your motives for creative social justice activism

Bookmarked How to think differently about doing good as a creative person by Omayeli Arenyeka (

A guide to avoiding Creative Savior Complex when working on social impact projects, written by Omayeli Arenyeka and illustrated by Neta Bomani.

Art and Design Resources and Reference

Design Justice Resources

Bookmarked Design Justice Network (

The Design Justice Network is an international community of people and organizations who are committed to rethinking design processes so that they center people who are too often marginalized by design. We work according to a set of principles that were generated and collaboratively edited by our network.

If We Want Design to be a Tool for Liberation, We’ll Need More Than Good Intentions

Community-Led Practices to Build the Worlds We Need