In this episode, Risha discusses cancel culture with Ron Owens of Phame Marketing in Tulsa, OK.
All of this and more in this episode of Risha Talks.
[MUSIC PLAYING] Cancel culture, lately you’ve probably been hearing a lot about it. But it actually originated in 2017 through Black Twitter. It is the practice of canceling a person or a business based on something they have said or done that negatively affects Black folks. But now that has grown to all marginalized communities. So join me and a local marketing expert as we discuss cancel culture.
Cancel culture is real. People fear that something they did 20 years ago is going to come back and haunt them. It will ruin their lives, their jobs. Now is it fair, or has it gone too far? I have with me, Ron Owens with Phame Marketing. Ron, what is cancel culture? Do you think it’s gone too far?
Well I think that it may be a little out of control. I think that as we try to set things in the proper order and make them right, we may be overcompensating a little bit. I understand where that comes from and people wanting to have some accountability where there used to not be accountability. And I can understand the need for justice. I do think though that we may be going too far.
There is a fine line– I think there is a fine line, because we know that a lot is happening, and people are tired. So why do you think it’s emerged in our country at this time?
Well I think it goes along with everything. I think there is a referendum in our culture. And we’re trying to decide how we’re going to live together and what that looks like. And with the acknowledgment that everybody’s experience in the world has not been the same, and that the dominant culture’s experience has not been consistent with everyone else’s experience, and accepting that reality has caused these things to emerge. And understanding that women, minorities, and other groups, based upon their preferences, hasn’t experienced it in the same way as everyone else, now we’re trying to correct those wrongs so that we can move forward.
So what’s the fine line though?
Well I don’t know what the fine line is. I think it’s back to the Golden rule or the Platinum rule. I think you want to treat people like you’d want to be treated. And we want to do good to people so that we can live in a world that’s good.
Let me ask you this, if someone– because this happened– is running for governor, and then 20 years ago in their college yearbook they’re dressed in blackface, and that comes up. Do you think then that people of color and Black folks are going to feel like that person is going to equally or equitably represent them as well? Or should they be called out and not be able to run for a position like that? Because that position has to be about everybody. And that’s going to make some people feel like it’s not for them, or that person is not going to stand for them.
Well I think you have to put everything in its proper context. And so I don’t have a one-size-fits-all solution for anything in life. I think it really– depending on that person’s current mentality and mindset, how they respond to the situation– I think if they’re deflecting and not wanting to take ownership of the decision in the past and have some type of explanation– I mean people, as you matriculate through life, we mature and we grow in wisdom. And I can say it’s kind of like growing up. There’s things that I didn’t understand or didn’t like that I look at and view differently now.
I think it really depends on how they respond to it and what happens next. I think if you are repentant of that situation, and you can acknowledge that it’s not proper to do that, and it’s an authentic response, I think that it’s incumbent upon us to show some grace and give that person an opportunity.
If they’re deflecting, and don’t want to explain it, and don’t want to talk about it, well I think you get what you get at that point. And I think at that point your position is not going to make anybody comfortable. And I think– so it depends on the response, it depends on the offense. And all of that is subject to that.
So you work in products. You work with a lot of companies. Say one of your companies gets– someone is dragging them on social media, because they have done or said something that is offensive to some diverse group, whether that be people of color, Black folks, gay folks, whatever that is. How do you advise that client? Because what’s happening on social media right now, they don’t really get a second chance to get dollars from those groups after they’ve done some things that are hurtful to that community.
Well once again I want to go back to the Golden rule. If I offend you, then I think that the first thing to do is acknowledge it, and apologize, and be sincere in that apology. Because we are all at some point going to be guilty of doing something that offends someone even though it may not be our intent. If we truly are committed to being the best human being that we can be and live in a community that prospers, then I think you have to acknowledge those things and see what you can do to repair it. And I think it’s also up to the offended group to show some grace and understand that we all can be in that position at some point. And how would we want that to be handled if it were us?
And I really think that’s really the key to how we’re all going to get through this. I think we have to address situations that aren’t right. And I think justice has to be the standard by which we conduct ourselves. But there’s really a difference between people that are engaging in criminal behavior that we should be afraid of and people that we’re just mad at. We can’t stay mad at each other forever. We’ve got to get over it and move on.
We need to be able to extend people grace once they have recognized it, apologized, and are willing to correct that behavior. We need to move on. Because the planet is not that large, and nobody’s leaving. So we need to learn how to get along.
So what happens when you forgive, and you see that transgression again? Like maybe they’re just asking for your forgiveness simply because they want to sell that product? But something happens–
I think there’s a difference between being upset because you got caught or being upset because you did something wrong and you want to make it right. And I think it’s up to everyone to evaluate that for themselves. But I think if you persist in that behavior, then at that point we have to decide. And I think right now if you look at brands, and how brands are being managed, and how we select brands, we’re more likely to change brands than ever before in human history. Because we have so much transparency in our world. We’re able to know, not only what people do, but why they do it.
And so right now the responsibility of every corporation and every business owner is to have a very authentic life. And it’s not a public versus private face. It’s got to be consistent. And so I think we all have to decide who we actually are, and what that means, and be prepared to accept what comes with that. If you want to hold that position, understand there may be consequences. And if you wish to get the dollars of the people, that you want their support, then you have to align yourself with their principles and values and not offend them. And that’s a decision you have to make for your business.
That’s true. So are there any benefits to it at all?
I think if we lean into this and embrace it for what it is, which is honesty and integrity for the standard of just being a human being and showing compassion, empathy, and love for each other, then I think it’s a good thing. Where I think it can become a bad thing, is if we’re unwilling to forgive or show grace and work through these things and we just– there’s a difference between wanting to be right and wanting things to be right. And so I think everybody’s got to give a little if we want the right thing to happen. But if we’re so bent on being right, and that’s the only thing that matters, then at some point, we may all lose.
That’s true. You sound so emotionally intelligent.
Well, thank you. My wife is an expert in emotional intelligence. She works with me constantly.
I know she has a hard job ahead of her, but tell her she’s doing good work.
So what can–
Well, thank you. Yes.
What can people and companies do moving forward? Because again, people are scared, and I can understand why. It can change the entire trajectory of your life or of your career just simply by saying the wrong thing. So how is it that they can– how can they operate in the world where you are easily canceled?
Well I don’t know if I have the answer or a solution to that. I think that’s what the world is struggling with. And the world, we’re making those decisions now as we decide how we want to depict history, and who gets a statue, and who does not get a statue, and how we’re going to conduct– even justice as we enforce laws, and practice things– what is criminalized and what is not going to be criminalized. I think we’re trying to answer all those questions right now.
But I think the answer is, of individual accountability, that introspectively and intelligently, you have to decide what’s right and wrong, and let that be the measure of how you conduct yourself. And I will say, if you wouldn’t say it to that person, you really probably shouldn’t say it about that person. And it will probably keep you from getting in trouble.
It all sounds good. But is there anything else you would like to add to this?
I’m good. If I’m good, you’re good.
Thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it. You know I always love talking to you. So– thank you.
All right. Well thank you for the opportunity. And good luck in this world we live in. We all just need to be better people.
Talk to you soon.
There are benefits and disadvantages to cancel culture. Regardless of that, we cannot allow it to discourage honest conversation. We’re all going to need grace. So give it. Because you have no idea when you’re going to need to receive it. This is Risha Grant with 2 Works For You.