Calling In: A Compassionate Approach to Addressing Oppressive Behavior

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Key Takeaways:

  • Calling out is a common practice in social justice circles to address oppressive behavior and hold individuals accountable.
  • Calling in, on the other hand, offers a more compassionate and patient approach to address oppressive behavior.
  • Calling in involves pulling individuals back into the community, acknowledging their mistakes, and offering them the chance to learn and grow.
  • Factors to consider when deciding whether to call someone in or out include emotional capacity, privilege, intentions, and the potential for change.
  • Calling in can be a constructive method when someone is unaware of the oppressive nature of their behavior or when they demonstrate a willingness to learn.
  • When calling someone in, it’s important to choose the appropriate method of communication, explain the specific action and its impact, and engage in a discussion about the behavior.
  • The goal of calling in is to nurture individuals within the social justice movement and create a compassionate and supportive community.

In social justice circles, addressing oppressive behavior is crucial to create a more equitable society. Traditionally, the approach taken has been “calling out,” publicly pointing out and condemning oppressive actions. While calling out serves its purpose, it can sometimes be counterproductive and lacks a compassionate approach. In recent years, a more compassionate alternative called “calling in” has gained recognition.

The concept of calling in, as described by Ngọc Loan Trần in an article on Black Girl Dangerous, involves pulling individuals back into the community who have strayed from the path of social justice. It acknowledges that everyone makes mistakes and provides an opportunity for growth and learning. Calling in is rooted in the belief that people can change and offers a more patient and compassionate approach to addressing oppressive behavior.

The Importance of Compassion in Social Justice Activism

Compassion plays a vital role in social justice activism. It acknowledges the imperfect nature of humanity and recognizes that individuals will inevitably make mistakes. When someone exhibits oppressive behavior, it is essential to address it while considering their capacity for growth. Engaging with people in a compassionate manner encourages learning and prevents them from becoming defensive or disengaged from the social justice movement.

Calling in should not be seen as a replacement for calling out, as both approaches have their place in different situations. However, calling in offers an alternative method that can be particularly effective when dealing with individuals who may be new to social justice activism, shy, or easily hurt.

Factors to Consider When Deciding to Call In or Out

When faced with oppressive behavior, it’s important to assess whether calling someone in is the most appropriate response. Consider the following factors:

1. Emotional Capacity

Engaging with oppressive behavior can be emotionally draining. Before calling someone in, evaluate your emotional capacity to determine if it is the right time for you to engage. Prioritize self-care and ensure that your well-being is not compromised in the process. If needed, take a break and call them in later or ask an ally to engage with them on your behalf.

2. Privilege Dynamics

Privileged individuals have a responsibility to address oppressive behavior within their own communities. Marginalized individuals should not always be expected to educate their oppressors. When appropriate, allies can take on the role of calling in and educating privileged individuals about the impact of their actions.

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