Millions of people driven from their homes during Syria’s 10-year civil war are crowded into an area of the country’s northwest controlled by a rebel group. Our reporter took a rare visit to Idlib Province, where shocked and impoverished Syrians are trapped in a murky and often violent limbo.
ARTS AND IDEAS
The origins of ‘cancel’
In the ’80s, a bad date inspired the musician Nile Rodgers to write a song. The track, “Your Love Is Canceled,” played on the idea of “canceling” a person for objectionable behavior, as Clyde McGrady writes in The Washington Post.
The phrase stuck around: Rappers and reality TV stars used it, and its popularity soared once Black users on Twitter began saying it. On social media at the time, canceling someone or something “was more like changing the channel — and telling your friends and followers about it — than demanding that the TV execs take the program off the air,” McGrady writes. That has changed in recent years.
Like a lot of Black slang, the term was appropriated by white people and has since deviated from its more innocuous origins. It became heavily politicized, applied to everything from public figures accused of sexual assault to the gender of Potato Head toys. It has followed a similar trajectory to the term “woke,” which Black activists popularized. That term has now evolved into a “single-word summation of leftist political ideology,” as Vox reports.
Though these are some of the latest terms lifted from Black culture, they won’t be the last. “One of the biggest exports of American culture,” a linguistics professor told The Post, “is African-American language.”