On Calling In When We’re Called Out: how to be aware of and interrupt the default of white centeredness and white fragility

  • Practicing grounding or somatic exercises that build awareness of our breath, surroundings, and a sense that we are not in danger.
  • Reading examples of being called out or in as white people committed to anti-racism in order to increase our exposure and educate ourselves so we become more aware from the beginning.
  • Talking with an accountability buddy or joining a group like SURJ to find a community who can help you to process the experience with someone else’s support.
  • When we’re more aware of times when we’re being called in or called out, we can name what is occurring through mentally noting, “this is me being called out” or talking to an accountability buddy who can help identify the experience for us.
  • Reframing our reactions to being called out to help us shift the story in our minds, and to help us listen, learn, and move forward. Being called out or called in is “an invitation to become aware of behaviors and beliefs…hidden to you, and they are an opportunity to do better.” (Saad, 164). Reframing these experiences as invitations or learning opportunities (instead of personal failure, someone being mean, etc.) allows us to tap into growth and transformation.
  • Attending workshops with educators and organizers on anti-racism.
  • Learning active listening and non-violent communication skills.
  • Journaling along with a book like Me & White Supremacy (the journaling process can be therapeutic in releasing the pain of harm we have endured or caused related to white supremacy in a space with others also doing their own work to dismantle internalized white supremacy).
  • Continuing to show up and do the work, which builds upon itself into more awareness and more capacity to show up. This is not about perfectionism, but about showing up, and continuing to learn and unlearn in the work for justice and community.
  • BIPOC people “don’t expect you to be free of your conditioning. We need you in the struggle.” — Robin DiAngelo, Video/article “What is My Complicity: Talking About White Fragility”
  • Mistakes are inevitable; keep going. This is an ongoing process, not a quick resolution. This kind of responsive listening is an ongoing commitment.
  • Sustained effort to be accountable is how trust can be built; that is, how behaviors and beliefs that are unconscious can be recognized and disrupted so they do not perpetuate harm. This process is central to being in the struggle for justice as white people.
  • “Mistakes are a fact of life. It is the response to error that counts.” — Nikki Giovanni (Saad, p. 162)
  • Don’t de-legitimize BIPOC individuals’ concerns, period, for any reason, including because you don’t like the way the concern is being expressed, or somehow think there is an over reaction or an unfair charge against you, and they don’t know you, don’t understand your intentions. Don’t center your own discomfort over listening to what is being said.
  • Look at the historical context of the situation: such as the history of policing and mass incarceration disproportionately and generationally impacting BIPOC communities in this country, evidence of systemic anti-Black racism that criminalizes Black bodies, and of a so-called justice system historically rooted in slave patrols.
  • Recognize there is a good reason why the BIPOC community members voicing their concerns don’t trust us because of the realities of systemic racism they face every day, including denial of those realities by white people.
  • Validate their concerns. Do the work to genuinely understand.
  • Make sure never to forget to communicate this message: “Continue to let me know.”
  • Crucial: change the question so that you are not stuck in the false binary thinking that bad white people are racist and good white people are not racist. Change the question from “if” or whether [I’m racist or not] to “how” — how was I shaped by the system of white supremacy? What can I do to interrupt that conditioning?”
  • Be alert to defensiveness that “functions to maintain racial status.” Do not allow that defensiveness to determine how you will or will not connect with others. Do not let your feelings de-legitimize BIPOC individual’s concerns. Remember the emotional labor endured by BIPOC individuals that has gone into them raising these issues to begin with.
  • Be aware that you will feel uncomfortable, and don’t let that discomfort shut you down. People’s lives are at stake.




Springfield-Eugene Oregon chapter of Showing up for Racial Justice, a national network of groups and individuals working to undermine white supremacy.

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SURJ Springfield-Eugene Oregon

SURJ Springfield-Eugene Oregon

Springfield-Eugene Oregon chapter of Showing up for Racial Justice, a national network of groups and individuals working to undermine white supremacy.

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