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.
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