Society bombards us everyday with institutionalized racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, and sizism. As a result, there are a lot of people in every day life who have internalized these kinds of bigoted beliefs. What do you do when you come across people, groups, or even other activists who have some prejudiced understandings of the world? You’ve got to call people out.

This guide will go over:

What it means to call someone out
When to call people out
How to approach the person
What to say
What does this accomplish

Calling people out
Calling people out is a tactic to challenge privilege and bigotry in all their forms, within and outside activist circles to incite accountability. This tradition has seen a revitalization on the feminist/queer/radical blogosphere. Calling out is a verbal or written retort to an organization or person that (at its best) isolates specific actions which are unacceptable and (in the very least) gets people to re-think what they meant and where they are coming from.

If a group organizes on campus that’s discriminatory, call it out. If a feminist blog is ignoring trans issues, call it out. Basically when things don’t feel right, you can speak out in solidarity, even if you’re acting as an ally to marginalized groups who might not be present.

How to approach someone
Jay Smooth, on his vlog Ill Doctrine, made a great video about how to tell someone they are acting racist. The same principles can be used to call someone out about any topic. Isolate their behaviour instead of making subjective claims about their personality.

What to say
Keeping it casual is an important part of calling someone out in a conversation. For example, rape jokes are extremely common in universities (ie “I raped that exam”). It’s easy for a person to brush off you calling them sexist, so isolate the behaviour (ie saying rape casually delegitimatizes the abuse of women).

Why do it
Calling people out is a way to show solidarity with others. It’s a way to challenge systems of oppression in daily life and make the people around you start to unpack their own biases.