Viewpoint – Toxicity invades, ruins social justice efforts

By Jamil Oakford/managing editor

Accountability is important. There’s nothing wrong with keeping people accountable for what they said, did or posted online. 

But it seems social justice warrior culture has reached toxicity and hasn’t fully recovered. And it’s no one’s fault but the movement itself.

Instead of providing a platform for productive conversation and discourse between people who do not agree, it has become a place where people are too afraid to open their mouths and state opinions for fear of the backlash they could face because the backlash is indiscriminate and disproportionate at times.

For example, someone not a part of the black community who dons dreadlocks or cornrows is not on the same level of cultural appropriation as the person donning blackface for a Halloween costume. However, in social justice’s new environment, the backlash is all the same.

With all the medical, scientific and technological advances, we like to think we are far removed from the pitchfork-and-torches crowd who used to watch public executions the same way we watch Chopped. But what social justice’s toxicity proves is that we haven’t evolved all that much.

Warriors now pride themselves on digging through heaps of tweets from six years ago just to prove that someone who is revered now is actually a trash human being who said something incredibly stupid. While, yes, that tweet is bad, why should they be condemned to a life of social destitution just because of a tweet from years ago? 

Oh, I see. Because it’s the 21st century, we’re all supposed to be born socially conscious and just know what not to say or what not to joke about.

Mistakes create the chance for people to learn what happened and to work to not make the same mistake again. If social justice tethers that person to the mistake, how does one grow and change?

No one is free from making mistakes. It comes with being human. But our job as fellow human beings is to lift each other up and help progress one another when those mistakes happen so they aren’t continuously repeated.

That’s what being woke in the 21st century looks like.