Calling in, not out.

"While calling out can add value, with the aim to stop oppressive behaviours, it can and is often counter-productive."

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Photo courtesy of amandalyndorner via Flickr.

It’s time to say no to the call out culture of today.

In everyday life, we too often “call someone out”, which usually includes publicly pointing out or shaming a person who is being oppressive. Calling people out for political incorrectness has become the norm. Instead, have you considered calling people in by educating and questioning why someone has used the wrong pronoun, why they are heterosexist or why a supposed joke is offensive? The answer to these questions often falls to the wicked system of white-privilege and patriarchy we are all being brought up in.

To call someone out does two things; it lets the person, as well as others know they are in the wrong but by extension, it enables said person to become accountable for their actions. Meanwhile staying silent about injustice means that you are complicit with repressive actions.

While calling out can add value, with the aim to stop oppressive behaviours, it can and is often counter-productive. Education and learning are increasingly excluded in place of anger, shooting people down and calling others out because of their mistakes. What about those who aren’t consciously oppressing others? We simply cannot call them out, move on and cast their goals to one side.

I’m sure we all have that one family member (that weird uncle we only see at family gatherings) who’s views and political opinions you question. While I understand that anger at these views are valid; mistakes are mistakes that deepen the personal wounds we carry. But if our ultimate goal is to change offensive and problematic behaviour, then surely we need multiple methods in which to do this. The difference between calling in and out is that the former is generally done with more compassion, patience and debate.

Whether it is someone new to a particular topic, someone who is socially anxious or simply someone who wants to learn more about a particular issue, it is important that we allow these people to participate in certain spaces. Including rather than ostracising them. Then and only then, can we begin to change opinion, educate and encourage debate over particular issues.

Ngoc Loan Tran in Black Girl Dangerous writes: “calling in as a practice of loving each other enough to allow each other to make mistakes, a practice of loving ourselves enough to know that what we’re trying to do here is a radical unlearning of everything we have been configured to believe is normal”.

I should stress here that I am not saying people should not get angry or feel hurt at their own oppression. Nor am I saying that calling people in is always better than calling people out; I think it depends on the particular circumstance and person. Merely, I am asking you to consider alternative ways of handling oppressive behaviours.

In order to help and improve the behaviour of others, we need to accept that not everyone has our knowledge and experiences, and that we are all constantly learning and growing. The beauty of social media is that we can quickly link up our friends to educational articles, saving ourselves from repeating the common lines of argument to different people. It is essential that we think about how we can hold people accountable without impinging on one’s learning and personal growth. This way, we can create safe and compassionate socio-political spaces, where issues are explored and debated to allow intellectual growth.