Danielle Young on Taylor Swift's Juneteenth Post & Celebrity Cancel Culture (Exclusive)

Danielle Young
Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images

ET spoke with the journalist via Zoom on Friday.

Journalist and content creator Danielle Young is happy to see people around the country celebrating Juneteenth.

She spoke with ET on Friday, just hours after Taylor Swift shared a video on Twitter about the significance of June 19 and why it should be celebrated as a national holiday. That video was a piece Young originally filmed for The Root, back when she was working for them in 2017.

"I got a message from the editor-in-chief, Danielle Bilson, over at The Root. She was my former editor, my former boss, and she reached out to let me know that Taylor Swift was interested in the video," Young told ET's Denny Directo. "[Taylor] was doing her own research! Honey is out here learning and trying to use her platform, which is one of the world's largest platforms. Let's be real, she's using that platform to educate not only the people that follow her, look up to her and listen to everything she says, but for herself, so I respect that."

"I respect her trying to learn. I respect her trying to educate people. I respect her even asking permission to post the video, because she knows that The Root is a platform that is black and unapologetic, and thus has definitely made content about our girl Taylor," Young continued. "So, she knows that that exists, and I thought that was really just quite bomb of our girl Taylor ... It's just so beautiful that someone of her caliber and of her stature could do something this supportive of Black lives."

Juneteenth, named for and celebrated on June 19, commemorates the true ending of slavery in the United States. Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation went into effect Jan. 1, 1863, declaring "all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State... shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free." It wouldn't be until two and a half years later, however, on June 19, 1865, that General Gordon Granger and his Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, with news that the Civil War had ended and any enslaved people were freed by executive order. 

While June 19 has its celebratory roots across churches and communities in Texas, Young believes it's a day that needs to be celebrated nationwide, and a holiday that "should be important to everybody." Having stars like Swift use their platforms to help spread awareness and educational resources has already made an incredible difference. 

"Voices like Taylor's are very important because here's the thing... I feel like a lot of the time, Black people are having these conversations within our own groups," Young explained. "Taylor represents a larger, much more diverse demographic, and then also she represents people that may not be having these conversations. So, someone like her, taking the time out to not only share these messages but implore that people become educated and offer them some type of action item around it -- I think that is incredible. Those are the types of conversations that should be happening."

"I want to also add that I was a part of this initiative called 'Share the Mic Now,' and it was with Luvvie Ajayi Jones, Bozoma Saint John, Glennon Doyle and Stacey Bendet from [fashion brand] Alice + Olivia," added Young. "They got together and basically came up with this concept, and it's the same kind of thing Taylor's doing at this point, where she's taking something inherently Black and sharing that. So, being able to have conversations outside of your typical audience, to a much wider audience, is something that I think everybody should be participating in."

Young also discussed "cancel culture," in which people withdraw support for a celebrity, public figure, company, etc, after learning they have done or said something offensive or inappropriate. Examples include the #MeToo movement, and more recently, stars getting cut from their jobs due to allegations of past racist behavior.

Regarding the latter, Young brought up what she feels is an important point: "Where do we draw the line between allowing someone to know that they are wrong, and then offering them the space to make it right?"

"The 'cancel culture' lexicon, I'm just like, 'Maybe we should give people a chance.' But when people are irredeemable, that's when I feel like, 'OK, maybe they should be [canceled],'" she said, noting that the range of "cancelable" offenses can range from controversial old tweets to "sick" and serious criminal accusations -- and fans need to adjust their reactions accordingly. "[Some celebs] should feel the wrath of cancel culture, because you can't build your career on the backs of your fans, and cause so much confusion and so much divide between them."

"I'm thinking of Kanye West, specifically ... the comments that he made in support of [President Donald] Trump," she added, referencing the rapper's political rants at concerts over the past few years, his decision to wear the controversial "Make America Great Again" hat and more. "That was at a time where Trump was making a lot of questionable statements online, so supporting that was in sense supporting someone who is racist against people in their country."

Young admitted ET that it made it "really hard" for her to want to give West "that grace."

"That just seemed like such a silly way of using your platform; of using your voice for people," she explained. "Now [he's] gone and created college funds for George Floyd's daughter, and I'm hoping influenced Kim Kardashian. She's doing a lot of things, as far as social justice is concerned, especially when it comes to mass incarceration."

"So, I'm hoping that there are redeeming qualities in certain folks," she continued. "I think that in ways where people show they made a mistake, said something really silly, and would like to be informed, would like to know where they made the misstep, that is where I feel like cancel culture shouldn't be so black and white. It may be we need to think about leaving a little space for redemption for people where applicable." 

See more on Juneteenth, and how Black celebrities are celebrating the holiday, below.