Callouts can be used to bring attention to important issues, but with any callout there needs to be context.By Mari Ramsawakh If you’re an activist or online often enough, you’re familiar with callout culture. You’ve probably called someone out yourself— in and of itself, a callout isn’t a bad thing. Sometimes when someone says or does something that perpetuates violence or ignorance against marginalized identities, we should say something. But callouts are just a tool and there is no inherent good or bad to them; they are how they are used, and sometimes there is an attached toxicity to callouts. More specifically, sometimes when you lose the nuance of callouts, they can be used to perpetuate white victimhood. When I say white victimhood, I mean the tendency that white folks have to center themselves as victims of any given scenario. We’ve seen it throughout the civil rights movement: as soon as people of colour get an inch of progress we’re asked, but how does it affect white people? People of colour live constantly under the pressure of how their actions and their success affects the white people around them. So when white people start to use callouts, well, it can become a slippery slope. Not every callout from a white person is bad or wrong, it’s a specific kind of callout. It’s the type of callout that typically comes as a deflection of responsibility and it usually uses a very selective form of intersectionality. It only struck me how easily some people could throw another person under the bus in order to avoid taking action for their own transgressions. One example is when I started to see Vellum and Vinyl getting dragged on Facebook among other Facebook pages like Love Life of an Asian Guy (LLAG) and Shaun King. King and LLAG were and are being called out for their abuse of women of colour, plagiarism, and speaking over Black people — especially Black women — on matters of race. These other popular pages have expressed violence and a fundamental lack of consideration for the people they claim to speak for. Vellum and Vinyl was called out for being anti-semitic (the proof being that she said she was Pro-Palestinian, which is not the same as anti-semitism), as well as a post on neurotypical advice, and for not communicating properly to autistic people as an autistic person. You can see that there’s a bit of disconnect between the severity of the offenses.
Swap one of the current brands you buy from for one of the companies featured below.Ironically nicknamed Land of the Free, the United States is the world’s #1 jailer. The U.S. represents only five percent of the world’s population, but 25 percent of the world’s inmates are here. By the close of 2010, America had 1,267,000 people behind bars in state prisons, 744,500 in local jails, and 216,900 in federal facilities—more than 2.2 million people in total. 1 in 5 inmates are low level drug offenders, and Black people are 10 times more likely to be incarcerated for drugs than whites despite using drugs at roughly the same rates. Those who are released from prison are often still under state surveillance, and as a consequence, they are subject to discrimination that contributes to America’s 76 percent recidivism rate. Most people who were incarcerated are required to have employment as a condition of their parole. Employers, however, are allowed to screen people with felonies during the application process, making it difficult for formerly incarcerated folks to get a job and feed themselves and their families.
The labor that Black women contribute to the world and to movements for Black liberation is often condensed to supporting roles, or erased altogether.NPR just ran a story about GiveDirectly, an organization that has been based in Africa since 2008 and gives money directly to those in “extreme poverty.” Now, they are coming to Texas, which will be “the first time they have tried this model in the U.S. and, for now, probably the only time. After [Texas], they plan on turning their focus back to their projects in East Africa.” Here’s the thing: a Black woman already organized direct giving efforts in and around Houston immediately following hurricane Harvey and raised over $30k in the first 24 hours, all of which went directly to Black women. Her name is Dr. Roni Dean-Burren and she was not mentioned in NPR’s story. Dean-Burren and several others reached out to the reporter of the story to notify them of their oversight, but none have received a response. This scenario is not uncommon because, too often, Black women's work goes overlooked in favor of others. You may know her as the Texas Textbook mom who took on McGraw-Hill two years ago when her son informed her of the dishonest way that their history textbook portrayed the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Since then, she has kept busy as an educator, activist, and mother raising free Black children and fiercely advocating for Black women. “I was enlightened by the death of Korryn Gaines,” Dean-Burren says. “Her murder by the Baltimore Police Department was met with such vitriol—from white people and from Black men alike. That left me feeling tons of acrimony, but it also helped me to focus my work, thoughts, and time into supporting Black women.”
Support may come in various forms, but no matter what, we must remember that corporations will not save us.In the last two weeks alone, the news has been filled with nothing but tragedy. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma has wrecked havoc in Texas, Florida, and the Caribbean. Social media and mainstream publications has been littered with links to crowdsourcing funds, giving the names of organizations and corporations emerging to rise to fill the need. And on the surface, this is admirable, necessary work, but looking deeper, we can see that this is nothing more than a strategy used to maintain their image. At the same time, Munroe Bergdorf — L'Oreal's first Black transgender model — was ousted from her position after calling out white supremacy in a Facebook post following the events of Charlottesville in August. Though both of these instances seem to be on opposite ends of the spectrum, it's clear that both signal a necessary lesson: our reliance on corporations and organizations to do the work for us signals our own compliance with saviorism. In the wake of tragedy, we often see a public rush to donate to the first organization that we see and pat ourselves on the back for a job well done. But to put our faith within organizations, especially those who have long histories of cooperating within the oppression they pay lip service to fight, is a lazy way that we allow casual oppression to continue.