Making Room For Mistakes in Activism

By Zoe Nelson

Have you ever posted a piece of misinformation on your Instagram story by accident? Used the wrong term to address someone? Said something that had good intentions but came out as ignorant?

If there’s one thing that we’ve learned from political and social movements of the past, it’s that strength comes in numbers. So how do we allow more people to enter a movement? 

The answer: we let people be human.

It’s time to stop acting like activists don’t make mistakes. You don’t have to be a perfect person to join a cause, and you don’t have to know every single thing about that cause, either. We all know we live in a world of “cancel culture” – you make one small mistake and suddenly everyone shuts you out. There are some cases where a person cannot be forgiven for their ignorance, but a large majority of people who I’ve seen get “canceled” either made a spur-of-the-moment comment that later sounded harsh, or simply asked a harmless question.

As long as someone is willing to learn and participate, there shouldn’t be any other prerequisite for standing beside others to create change. I have a friend who is terrified of getting involved in politics, activism, or social issues because she is so afraid that she’s not educated enough or she might make a small mistake and everyone will think she’s a bad person. This shouldn’t be an excuse for sitting out on the sidelines, but in the current social and political climate, it unfortunately is. 

One of the most important parts of standing together is helping each other. Asking questions is how we find solutions. Want less people to make mistakes? Then give them room to ask questions, and do your best to answer them. We can’t villainize people by twisting their capacity to learn into ignorance. There’s not enough players on the team to bench anyone.


Activism isn’t about being perfect, it’s about standing together. You can hold people accountable for their actions while also being supportive and uplifting to others. We all started in the same place at some point. Allow others to rise to their potential, instead of shooting them down every time they mess up. Only then can we truly stand together. 

“When we stand together, we will always win.” 

– Martin Luther King Jr.

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