I am calling in our call out and cancel culture (say it quickly three times). A hearty diet of years of messaging to call out biases and prejudices with the recent addition of social justice energy drinks for breakfast have created tidal waves of cancelling people.
Of course, Hitler has been long cancelled.
Grown white folks caught in overt acts of bigotry, who instead of taking responsibility, transform into crying victims get called out and cancelled.
COVID-19, also known as “Rona,” is forever cancelled.
Depending on one’s perspectives, all of these are arguably obvious cancellations.
However, the confused white person who just started learning more about race and did not get the social justice notice that you prefer Latinx over Latino/a, after just hearing someone a week ago call them out for using Hispanic and told them to instead use Latino/a—Called out? Really? Cancelled? Really?
There is no consensus within and across communities of color on identifying as Latinx, Latino/a, Hispanic, Chicano, African American, Black, Afro-American, African descendent, Asian American, Southeast Asian American, Asian, Korean American, Japanese American, Chinese American, Hmong, Native American, American Indian, Indigenous, and the list goes on.
Five years from now, I could be called out and cancelled because I did not make an illustrative list as exhaustive as possible.
Talk about life coming at you fast.
I want to include more questioning—to consider calling in—so as to avoid getting swept up in the frenzy of mob mentality whether on the internet or in real life. This brief note is my attempt to begin to call in the ways some of us unquestioningly partake in call out and cancel culture.
A Time Call Out, Call In, and Cancel
Don’t get me wrong. I think there is a time for calling out, calling in, and cancelling. Yes, I am including cancelling as an option for now.
Certain people can be cancelled* from my sphere of recognition, like individuals with severe sociopathy who cause much harm in the world.
They reap the reward of cancellation. They can have a hug and still be cancelled.
With this being said, I have limits on cancelling. Some of us will cancel a 57 year old white person for a racist comment she made when she was nine years old, without even seeking to find out if there has been any change.
If we look at our own lives, we can see patterns of behavior or perspectives about the world that have not changed since we were nine years old, and we can definitely find those that have changed. Depending on the situation and context, calling in to question before jumping to call out and cancel, can possibly yield more results.
There are times I have jumped and landed in a pit of call-out quicksand. As a humanly human, I can confidently say that even with all of my reflective practice, it can happen again.
Calling Out and Calling In
As far as calling out—there is a time to call out prejudices, biases, and bigotry. If we do not call it out, they will persist. On the other hand, calling out for the sake of calling out—to react for the sake of reacting without thought out strategies, can do more harm than good in certain conditions.
Once again, I do not like the feeling of struggling through social quicksand, and I share my note because I am reminding myself, too. Most, if not all, of us can benefit from revisiting why and what we do what we do.
Calling someone a xenophobe, homophobe, ageist, sexist, or racist, for example, without considering a range of factors might do nothing more than escalate into a fight, where everyone walks away with feeling even more justified in their perspectives.
Moreover, I am fully aware that various people will be resistant and seek to fight no matter how thoughtful of an approach you take to address behavior that reflects bigotry, prejudice, or bias.
With this understanding, I empathize with why fellow humans are ready or quick to not only call out, but to also cancel. Some of us hurl the labels because we are rightfully hurt, disappointed, angry, and downright tired of dealing with the same old problems and the same old typical games.
Yet, there are certain times where calling in people to question—seek to understand or find out more information can serve as a diagnostic about what actions to take. The calling in can lead to a calling out. Other times, calling in to ask questions can help to mutually arrive at revisiting our perspectives, without a call out or cancellation.
All of these possible approaches involve taking a brief moment to think before acting and reacting. We are not responsible for how others will respond. We are responsible for how we choose to be in this world.
As I pause in this moment, what if there really was a social justice energy drink called, “So Just Juice?” If someone gets carried away with the calling out and cancelling, then I can justifiably ask, “How much “SJ Juice” did you drink today?”
Look out, potential investors. Here I come.
*I am open to changing my opinion on my limited cancelling. I invite different perspectives.