Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Westminster College Logo

Anti-Racism

Tips for Taking Action Effectively

Interrupting Bias: Calling Out

Calling Out:

  • When we need to let someone know that their words or actions are unacceptable and will not be tolerated
  • When we need to interrupt in order to prevent further harm
  • Will likely feel hard and uncomfortable, but necessary
  • Allows us to hit the “pause” button and break the momentum 

Try these:

  • Wow. Nope. Ouch. I need to stop you right there.
  • That word/comment is really triggering and offensive. Be mindful and pick a different word.
  • I need to push back against that. I disagree. I don’t see it that way.
  • Okay, I am having a strong reaction to that and I need to let you know why.
  • I don’t find that funny. Tell me why that’s funny to you.
  • I wonder if you’ve considered the impact of your words.
  • Hmmm.. maybe you want to think this one through a bit more and speak about it later.
  • I need you to know how your comment just landed on me.
  • That’s not our culture here. Those aren’t our values.
  • Is sex/gender/gender identity/gender expression/race/class/ ethnicity/religion/ability/ immigration status/ body type/ marital status/ age/ pregnancy relevant to your point? How?
  • It sounded like you just said _______. Is that really what you meant?
  • I feel obligated as your peer/colleague/co-worker /friend/supervisor to tell you that your comment wasn’t okay.
  • It sounds like you’re making some assumptions that we need to unpack a bit.
  • You may or may not realize this, but you’re talking about me/my story/my identity markers.
  • I need to leave the room if the conversation is going to continue down this road.

Remember, it is a powerful thing for the target of oppression to hear these words from the mouth of an ally!

Adapted from Oregon Center for Educational Equity: What Did You Just Say? Responses to Racist Comments Collected from the Field  

http://www.racialequityvtnea.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Interrupting-Bias_-Calling-Out-vs.-Calling-In-REVISED-Aug-2018-1.pdf

Interrupting Bias: Calling In

Calling In:

  • When there is an opportunity to explore deeper, make meaning together, and find a mutual sense of understanding across difference
  • When we are seeking to understand or learn more
  • When we want to help imagine different perspectives, possibilities, or outcomes
  • Provides for multiple perspectives and encourages paradigm shifts
  • Focused on reflection, not reaction
  • Is not just a suggestion with an uptick (Don’t you think you should…?)

Try These:

  • I’m curious. What was your intention when you said that?
  • How might the impact of your words/actions differ from your intent?
  • What sort of impact do you think your decision/comment/action might have?
  • How might someone else see this differently? Is it possible that someone might misinterpret your words/actions?
  • How might your own comfort level, assumptions, expectations, prior experiences be influencing your beliefs, decisions, process?
  • How is ___ different from ____? What is the connection between ___ and ___?
  • What criteria are you using to measure/assess etc?
  • How did you decide, determine, conclude...
  • What would have to change in order for ____?
  • What do you assume to be true about ____?
  • Why is this the best way to proceed? What other approaches have you considered?
  • What is making you the most fearful, nervous, uncomfortable, or worried?
  • Why do you think that is the case?
  • Why do you believe that to be true?
  • Why do you think others have/haven’t moved in that direction?
  • How do you know it’s working?
  • Why did the result or response cause a problem for you?
  • What would other stakeholders say/think/feel?
  • In your opinion, what is the best-case scenario?

Think: How might we call out the behavior, while calling in the person?

Adapted from Oregon Center for Educational Equity: What Did You Just Say? Responses to Racist Comments Collected from the Field  

http://www.racialequityvtnea.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Interrupting-Bias_-Calling-Out-vs.-Calling-In-REVISED-Aug-2018-1.pdf