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We Will Not Cancel Us: And Other Dreams of Transformative Justice (Emergent Strategy Series, 3)
by Adrienne Maree Brown and Malkia Devich-Cyril


adrienne maree brown's We Will Not Cancel Us is a vital intervention into the often heated and polarizing conversations around "cancel culture." It's less a defense of "canceling" and more a call for nuanced engagement with accountability, transformative justice, and building a world beyond punishment.

Key arguments:

  • "Canceling" is often misused: The term, brown argues, has lost its original meaning within social justice movements and is now weaponized to silence marginalized voices and stifle necessary critique. She advocates for reclaiming a more nuanced understanding.
  • Accountability, not punishment: True accountability requires engaging with harm, understanding its roots, and allowing for growth and transformation. Punitive measures, like "canceling," often achieve the opposite, fostering defensiveness and inhibiting change.
  • Transformative justice over carceral logic: The book challenges the ingrained "carceral logic" prevalent in society—the belief that punishment is the primary solution to harm. Instead, brown advocates for transformative justice, which prioritizes healing, repair, and collective liberation.
  • Building a culture of transformative accountability: Brown lays out practical steps to cultivate transformative accountability:
    • Cultivating discernment: Understanding the nuances of harm, power dynamics, and intent.
    • Engaging with humility and curiosity: Approaching conversations with a willingness to listen, learn, and hold complexity.
    • Centering healing and repair: Prioritizing the needs of those harmed and seeking restorative solutions.
    • Investing in community building: Creating spaces where accountability can be practiced with care, empathy, and a commitment to collective growth.

Key takeaways:

  • "Cancel culture" is a complex issue, and simplified narratives fail to capture its nuances.
  • True accountability requires moving beyond punishment and embracing transformative justice principles.
  • Cultivating transformative accountability requires ongoing learning, compassionate engagement, and a commitment to collective liberation.

Overall, We Will Not Cancel Us is a powerful call to reimagine accountability and justice. It's an essential read for anyone seeking to engage in more nuanced and transformative conversations around social justice.