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Calling Out and Calling In

What does it mean to “call out,” racist words or actions?

Calling someone out, or being called out can look like a conversation being stopped to prevent any additional damage. Call-outs can look like public attention being brought to someone’s harmful actions, as witnesses can create accountability.

While call-outs are useful in situations that require a pause or immediate redirection, they can feel alienating for those on the receiving end. Being called out can cause some to feel reluctant to engage in a would-be learning opportunity any further.

An Alternative – Calling In

To “call someone in” is to focus on the reflection of the damaging words or actions rather than reaction. Calling in is done privately, and allows for a more open, honest, and respectful exchange of ideas. Calling someone in shifts us from blaming and shaming to communicating with compassion and patience. Reflecting alongside someone rather than reacting to them lets them know you are on their side, and that you are a safe person to unpack things with. This gives all parties a chance to grow and evolve without fear of reprimand.


Have you ever felt called out by someone? Have you ever felt the need to call out, or call in racist actions in an uncomfortable setting? Share your experiences with us in a comment below.

-Your Friends at Undoing Racism

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