A photo of B Simone in an article about being canceled

B. Simone, Lea Michele and Starbucks Make the Canceled List

Is cancel culture going too far, or are the stakes too high to just let things go?
June 24, 2020
8 mins read

As summer temperatures get hotter, the “canceled” list is getting longer. In the past month, B. Simone, Lea Michele and Starbucks have all trended on Twitter, but not because of their jokes, music or coffee. It’s because the hype around their platforms has fallen, and they’ve been invited to the canceled party.

Cancel culture has become a polarizing topic in the world of social media. It is a beacon of power and a thief of good reputation. When a person or celebrity is “canceled,” it generally means that they are culturally blocked. This block prevents them from furthering their platform, being well-respected or even developing their career.

This kind of culture is not one you ever want to be subject to, yet it’s easy enough to stumble into its sights. To be “canceled,” you really just have to say something insensitive, racist or something that just doesn’t quite fit into the norms of society.

Even questioning Beyoncé’s greatness and work ethic is enough to get you canceled and attacked by the Beyhive.

But B. Simone, Lea Michele and Starbucks’ cancellation receipts weren’t issued because they didn’t like Beyoncé. Interestingly enough, their comments regarding the #BlackLivesMatter movement is what led to their downfall.

The tragic death of George Floyd has caused widespread protests and riots around the country. In the wake of his murder, people are hurting and angry; they want justice. Since the news first shook the world, celebrities and influencers have used their platforms to speak up regarding the injustice that is infecting society.

While many influencers and celebrities stood in solidarity with the protests and used their platforms to honor George Floyd and #BlackLivesMatter, B. Simone remained quiet. Many fans found this unsettling and began to call the comedian out, questioning why she was not using her platform to stand up for her culture.

When Simone got fed up with the backlash for not uttering a word, she finally spoke up — with a different opinion. Defending herself on Twitter, she wrote, “I’m not living to please man I’m here yo please God at the end of the day i am a CHRISTIAN! I’m God fearing i have to answer to Him! I’m going to ask myself WWJD not what an angry black woman do! I am angry but i am also trying to be Godly.”

The tweet was not well received by fans, which led to her getting canceled.

Many fans deemed the tweet a slap in the face to black culture, while some found it criticizing the same culture that she makes a profit from. Wrote one Twitter user: “B Simone and Desi canceled. How tf y’all scared to stand for something y’all portray and profit off EVERY single day….F*CK YALL!”

Another user slammed Simone by addressing the “angry black woman” stereotype in Simone’s tweet. “The B Simone thing might seem small but it’s actually a huge slap in the face…someone who branded herself as the loud, man obsessed black woman. Don’t want to be vocal about a black man losing his life?”

Instead of recording an apology video, or typing a long caption about how sorry she was like many celebrities and influencers do when they’ve offended their fans, B. Simone did not. Instead, she posted a picture of her latest charity work and tweeted, “We changing the world one day at a time! Building the community, giving back and bringing health to the hoods! Thank you @19keys_ for your leadership. Today was beautiful.”

Like several other celebrities, former “Glee” star Lea Michele took to Twitter to express her support for #BlackLivesMatter. She tweeted, “George Floyd did not deserve this. This was not an isolated incident and it must end. #BlackLivesMatter.”

It wasn’t long before her fellow former co-star, Samantha Ware, quoted Michele’s tweet, calling her out for her past microaggressions on the set of “Glee.” Ware wrote in all caps, “LMAO REMEMBER WHEN YOU MADE MY FIRST TELEVISION GIG A LIVING HELL?!?! CAUSE ILL NEVER FORGET. I BELIEVE YOU TOLD EVERYONE THAT IF YOU HAD THE OPPORTUNITY YOU WOULD “SHIT IN MY WIG!” AMONGST OTHER TRAUMATIC MICROAGRESSIONS THAT MADE ME QUESTION A CAREER IN HOLLYWOOD…”


And just like that, Michele and her problematic past started trending.

Twitter users responded in outrage, while others claimed that they “tried to tell y’all” years ago that Michele was not a kind person to work with and that she’s had a history of being racist.

One user reflected on being on set with Michele, saying, “I used to be a background actor on Glee, or as you call us, a ‘cockroach’. Remember the time when you walked into the hair/makeup trailer, saw your usual seat was taken, then lifted a guy up by his hair and said ‘you’re in my seat’? That was classy of you. #LeaMicheleIsOverParty.”

After a few days of silence and letting Twitter have a field day with the tea that Ware dropped, Michele made an apology post on Instagram.

In her apology, she claimed that she doesn’t recall acting like that toward her co-star and that she was sorry for how her white privilege was perceived by others.

Unfortunately for her, people were not so forgiving, claiming that her apology was “fake.” One user criticized, “Finally saw Lea Michele’s apology ‘sorry for how others perceived my actions.’ Sis that is such a ‘I’m sorry you felt that way it’s totally your fault and I’m not sorry bout doing it’ apology. I’d say cancel but haven’t seen her in anything since Glee…”

And so, Lea Michele was canceled.

Like her, Starbucks’ past is not so squeaky-clean. In fact, the company has had its own complicated history with racial bias.

In 2018, the popular coffee franchise temporarily closed down 8,000 company-owned cafes and ordered its 175,000 employees to attend training sessions about racial bias after a white Starbucks employee called the police on two black men for ostensibly loitering and refusing to leave when asked.

As protests and rallies for #BlackLivesMatter continue to grow, Starbucks said in a recent memo that they won’t allow employees to wear “Black Lives Matter” material because “There are agitators who misconstrue the fundamental principles of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement — and in certain circumstances, intentionally repurpose them to amplify divisiveness.”

In lieu of everything going on, this was not received well by Starbucks lovers and #BlackLivesMatter supporters. When news broke, it wasn’t long before #StarbucksIsOverParty began trending on Twitter.

The company then retracted its statement and said publicly on Twitter that it is donating $1 million to organizations “promoting racial equity and more inclusive and just communities.” They also reversed their stance and said employees will be able to wear #BlackLivesMatter T-shirts and pins until new branded shirts are delivered to 200,000 employees with the phrase.

Cancel culture is a polarizing topic in the world of social media and should not be underestimated. It spares no one, which is evident in the recent cancellations of social media influencers, actors and entire corporations.

Yasmeen Ludy, University of Michigan

Writer Profile

Yasmeen Ludy

University of Michigan
Communications and Media Studies

I am a passionate journalist and storyteller. I love anchoring three WOLV TV shows, ​Candid Conversations, NewsFeed, and EBuzz​. I have also written for the Michigan Daily and interned for WDIV Channel Local 4.

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