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J Cole

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If we’ve learned anything about J. Cole over the years is that he’s a little bit different than the rest of us and he has a unique worldview. Cole has always tried to be thoughtful about everything he does, and the way he views “cancel culture” is no different.

In an interview with XXL, Cole spoke about how people are ‘canceled’ on social media after being accused of being abusive, sexist, or racist and how the culture surrounding it can be as toxic as the action of canceling people itself.

“I understand outrage. So I don’t know. If anything, it kind of makes me want to be even more empathetic to people that the world considers to be undesirable,” said Cole in the interview. “Because we live in a world where everybody wants to be so quick to cancel somebody.

“But at the same time, people condemn the criminal justice system, which is entirely the cancellation system. To me, both of those ideas are f*cked up, like, ‘We’re throwing you away.’ […] You’re looking to punish me—and don’t get it twisted, what I did was a punishable offense—but where are you talking about healing me? Where are you going to show me some compassion and some f*cking love?”

There is some value in what J. Cole is saying here. Sometimes, there are people who should be given guidance instead of given up on — especially for some of the younger rappers and entertainers. On the flip side, some of those who have been canceled are men who have committed unspeakable crimes against women, and often times women of color, making it hard to want to extend that olive branch. Instead of cancelation, Cole wants to shift things to accountability.

“I’m down for accountability culture. I’m cool with that. Even for myself,” he said. “Everyone needs to be accountable. I don’t mind if someone got something to say about me or what I said or did. That’s all good. But cancel culture? I don’t cancel nobody.”

The difficult part for the entirety of the culture is finding where you draw that line between people who should receive those second and third chances from the collective conscience and those who have gone beyond the point of reconciliation with the general public. For Cole, guys like 6ix9ine and XXXTentacion should have received more support and love while being held accountable for their actions. For others, the statutory rape charges are entirely too much, too predatory.

If nothing else, it’s great that public figures are pushing these kinds of conversations. The public discourse will help bridge the gap between the two sides to have a better understanding of how we deal with public figures who screw up…in public.