Calling IN: A Less Disposable Way of Holding Each Other Accountable
Not exactly a problem here these days, but here's a post at Black Girl Dangerous that addresses how to deal with making mistakes in social justice communities and touches on a lot stuff that went down here several years ago.
Hopefully this will be helpful for people working on social justice issues irl; I'm not sure exactly how to apply this to an online community where there's less trust and people don't necessary know who is a committed ally who f***** up and who is a troll.
I started having conversations on this practice of “calling in” after attending Race Forward’s Facing Race Conference in Baltimore, MD in 2012. Facing Race was a gathering of thousands of people working on advancing racial justice. The space was full of energy, commitment, and a ride-or-die-and-put-it-all-on-the-line mentality for making sure we’ve got our bases covered in this fight against racism and dismantling white supremacy.
What happens when thousands of people who all “get it” come together and everyone knows something about “the work”? We lose all compassion for each other. All of it.
I’ll be the first person and the last person to say that anger is valid. Mistakes are mistakes; they deepen the wounds we carry. I know that for me when these mistakes are committed by people who I am in community with, it hurts even more. But these are people I care deeply about and want to see on the other side of the hurt, pain, and trauma: I am willing to offer compassion and patience as a way to build the road we are taking but have never seen before.
We have been configured to believe it’s normal to punish each other and ourselves without a way to reconcile hurt. We support this belief by shutting each other out, partly through justified anger and often because some parts of us believe that we can do this without people who fuck up.
But, holy shit! We fuck up. All of us. I’ve called out and been called out plenty of times. I have gotten on people ruthlessly for supporting and sustaining oppression and refusing to listen to me. People have gotten on me about speaking to oppressions that aren’t mine, being superficial about inclusion, and throwing in communities I’m not a part of as buzzwords. But when we shut each other out we make clubs of people who are right and clubs of people who are wrong as if we are not more complex than that, as if we are all-knowing, as if we are perfect. But in reality, we are just really scared. Scared that we will be next to make a mistake. So we resort to pushing people out to distract ourselves from the inevitability that we will cause someone hurt.
And it is seriously draining. It is seriously heartbreaking. How we are treating each other is preventing us from actually creating what we need for ourselves. We are destroying each other. We need to do better for each other.
We have to let go of treating each other like not knowing, making mistakes, and saying the wrong thing make it impossible for us to ever do the right things.