Calling Out Calling In
When graced with the fleeting burden of public attention, what do those empowered by it use it for?
And continuing to bestow this attention on them gives access to more influence and therefore more … profit.
When a person (or a person acting on behalf of a business) harms publicly, they must amend publicly. The volume of accountability must match the volume of the harm.
It isn’t just between them and those who call them out. It is for all who bore witness -- and did not assume the role of notifying them.
It’s not for the chorus in the comments to proclaim that “It’s not that bad” or “This is out of proportion”. Can they even make those calls? Do they recognize the harm as what it is? Can they even do so? For them to be able to recognize it as what it truly is, they must then reconcile their own history of harm and avoidance of its repercussions.
Is it bullying?
Is it contributing to cancel culture?
Is it ruinous?
Is it accountability?
Is it that they were given every chance and copious feedback and were still harmful so now there should be repercussions?
How have some folks gotten so far retaining both power and ignorance?
How is it acceptable to claim that knowledge has escaped them at every opportunity and have that NOT be the grounds for relinquishing power?
How is it that when it comes to personal intersections, personal marginalizations, they can be emPOWERED to the point of expertise, but to recognize that same POWER in those who are marginalized where they hold power is beyond their ability?
How do the lessons of life make the transition from the page to the screen while maintaining their fidelity?
How does the theory become practice?
How is the practice employed?
Exactly how long is the ‘listening and learning’ incubation period?
When exactly can we expect our allies to be deployed?
And when they get to us will they even see us as equals?
Or did they ride in on a white horse gallant and heaving, too fine to enter the fray with the likes of us?
It is incredibly reasonable to call on them to do better. To let them know that they have the means to improve and that the expectation exists that they do so.
Accountability is a shared experience.
The infrequent acquaintance who has come to stay.
An even more traitorous inbox.
Another space to be colonized.
Folks unhindered by the public gaze (re: other people who hold the same power as they do) work through their fragility at the expense of the one who brought it to their attention.
I would say that unless you are in a friendship that has already been tested, has already weathered conflict, has already moved through it: DON’T.
This is not for professionals as a courtesy.
This is not for admired influencers.
This is not for envied colleagues.
This is an extension of intimacy that will be exploited unless there is already a SOLID and TESTED friendship.
DO NOT ENGAGE.
And to those in power who are calling for CALL INS instead of CALL OUTS:
Examine who you are protecting with this.
Those who have already harmed, who call those pointing it out the aggressors, who want to protect their standing in the community, who want to protect their influence over the marketplace -- the ones who have already proven their willingness to carelessly harm? Are they really the ones who deserve our alignment?
How is telling someone that THE TONE of their call out is unacceptable, not racist?
How are we saying that the party who experienced harm owes it to the party doing the harm to CALL THEM IN?
How did we miss this egregious expectation of emotional labor?
How did we misplace who is being empowered by this?
Why can’t they bear the burden of the harm that they themselves caused?
We agree that tone policing is racist.
And we agree that centering white feelings is racist.
But we get lost on calling out?
Accountability is a shared experience.
Who gets to keep their pristine public veneer?
Who gets the benefit of the doubt?
Who gets its protection?
Having been party to multiple call ins, let me assure you that unless you enjoy self harm through unpaid emotional exploitation and seeing others leverage their social capital with your words in their mouth,
I suggest you call them out.