Ernest Owens at Harvard Book Store


The Case for Cancel Culture:
How This Democratic Tool
Works to Liberate Us All

in conversation with DEBORAH DOUGLAS


February 28, 2023
7:00 PM ET


Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138


This event is free; no tickets are required.

Harvard Book Store and The Emancipator welcome ERNEST OWENS—President of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists and host of the "Ernestly Speaking!" podcast—for a discussion of his new book The Case for Cancel Culture: How This Democratic Tool Works to Liberate Us All. He will be joined in conversation by DEBORAH DOUGLAS—co-editor in chief of The Emancipator.

A Return to In-Person Events

Harvard Book Store is excited to be back to in-person programming. To ensure the safety and comfort of everyone in attendance, the following Covid-19 safety protocols will be in place at all of our Harvard Book Store events until further notice:

  • Face coverings are required of all staff and attendees when inside the store. Masks must snugly cover nose and mouth.

About The Case for Cancel Culture

“___ is canceled.”

Chances are, you’ve heard this a lot lately. What might’ve once been a niche digital term has been legitimized in the discourse of presidents, politicians, and lawmakers.

But what really is cancel culture? Blacklisting celebrities? Censorship? Until now, this has been the general consensus in the media. But it’s time to raise the bar on our definition― to think of cancel culture less as scandal or suppression, and more as an essential means of democratic expression and accountability.

The Case for Cancel Culture does just that. This cultural critique from award-winning journalist Ernest Owens offers a fresh progressive lens in favor of cancel culture as a tool for activism and change. Using examples from politics, pop culture, and his own personal experience, Owens helps readers reflect on and learn the long history of canceling (spoiler: the Boston Tea Party was cancel culture); how the left and right uniquely equip it as part of their political toolkits; how intersections of society wield it for justice; and ultimately how it levels the playing field for the everyday person’s voice to matter.

Why should we care? Because in a world where protest and free speech are being challenged by the most powerful institutions, those without power deserve to understand the nuance and importance of this democratic tool available to them. Readers will walk away from this first-of-its-kind exploration not despising cancel culture but embracing it as a form of democratic expression that’s always been leading the charge in liberating us all.

Praise for The Case for Cancel Culture

“So much of the political landscape within the United States is steeped in false equivalences. The term “Cancel Culture” gets thrown around as a Boogey Man to strike fear into the hearts of many, without any analysis of what is actually being named. The Case for Cancel Culture is clear and honest about what Cancel Culture is (and isn’t) and is necessary in the fight for critical thought.” ―J Mase III, author of The Black Trans Prayer Book

The Case for Cancel Culture is not just essential at this juncture in time, it's an important tool for all times, and for anyone looking to learn how to have the difficult but necessary conversations about race, injustice, inequality and oppression. What Ernest Owens does in his book is what he's been doing for all the years he's been writing: He gives voice to the voiceless and amplifies the message of the marginalized. The powers that be fear two things: Getting knocked from their perch, and Owens, who shows us the way.” ―Dawn Ennis, award-winning journalist, advocate and university professor

“Provocative, thought-provoking commentary and coverage, that's what journalist and writer Ernest Owens' gift is . He often goes where many don't. And while you may not always agree with him, you will leave his written work armed with information necessary for hard, open conversations. I could think of no other person more poised to tackle this issue of Cancel Culture, what it means and its impact today.” ―Desiree Peterkin-Bell, national political strategist and CEO of DPBell & Associates

Deborah Douglas
Deborah Douglas

Deborah Douglas

Deborah D. Douglas is co-editor in chief of The Emancipator. She previously served as the Eugene S. Pulliam Distinguished Visiting Professor at DePauw University; senior leader with The OpEd Project, amplifying underrepresented expert voices; and founding managing editor of MLK50: Justice Through Journalism. Deborah is author of the award-winning Moon U.S. Civil Rights Trail: A Traveler’s Guide to the People, Places, and Events That Made the Movement, the first-ever travel guide to follow the official civil rights trail in the South, and a contributor to Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019.

Ernest Owens
Ernest Owens

Ernest Owens

ERNEST OWENS (he/him) is an award-winning journalist and CEO of Ernest Media Empire, LLC. He is the Editor at Large for Philadelphia Magazine and President of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists. He hosts the hit podcast "Ernestly Speaking!" As an openly Black gay journalist, he has made headlines for speaking frankly about intersectional issues in society regarding race, LGBTQ, and pop culture. In 2018, he launched his growing media company that specializes in multimedia production, consulting, and communications. The Case for Cancel Culture is his first book.

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes

As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.

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