Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Calling in: The better, younger brother of cancelling

Professor Loretta Ross explains new approach of “calling in” to address social injustice
Shilpa Sweth

On Sept. 25, Smith College professor and guest speaker Loretta Ross spoke to the University of Massachusetts community about cancel culture as part of her “Calling In” series.

Ross hosted a workshop at the Student Union for faculty and staff, as well as an additional workshop for students and a reception in-between to interact and reflect with her attendees.

Her workshop was focused on the “Five C’s Continuum,” an examination of the five ways people typically respond to words or actions from others that offend them. The “Five C’s” include calling them out, canceling them, calling them in, calling on them and calling it off.

According to Ross, the phrase “calling in” means having difficult conversations, correcting behavior in private and avoiding public humiliation among the parties involved.

“You’re going after accountability because you’re not giving it a pass to the heart, you’re just choosing to use love and respect,” Ross said. “You are going to respect that everybody has their own learning curve.”

“Don’t let somebody else’s dirty fingerprints determine who you are going to be in life,” Ross added.

Ross teaches about white supremacy and “call-out” culture, and is a leading advocate for women’s reproductive justice. She helped found the SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective in 1997, an organization dedicated to improving policy for the reproductive health of women from marginalized communities.

Ross started her career as an activist at age 16. “That was the first time I ever got teargassed,” she said. She dropped out of college in her third year due to extenuating circumstances and dedicated her time to social justice.

Erin Flynn, a senior art history and English major, said cancel culture is strange to her as “it is using the oppressors’ tools and is not really doing what we hope and want it to do.”

Flynn appreciated Ross coming to explain the topic more as she helped Flynn understand the topic at hand.

Fatma Sayeh, a senior legal studies major, emphasized the importance of active listening. “It is okay to be angry about the world we live in and people that you disagree with, but today it is more productive to call in than call out,” she said.

Sayeh said the event related to an education course she took, and played an important role in the event’s outreach and communication for other students, as a student ambassador for diversity and education training.

“The entire course [was] about what Loretta was talking about, the idea that we need to forge relationships and community rather than difference,” Sayeh said.

The idea of having Ross come to campus was prompted by a recent University graduate whose interest in Ross started after a conversation with her resident assistant.

Dr. Felicia Griffin, sociology lecturer and SBS RISE program director, said that the student wanted to help other students learn about Ross.

“The biggest takeaway for me was to share and talk about the importance of bringing folks together,” Griffin said.

“We talk a lot about the creation of belonging on this campus and we, as a campus community, belong to one another,” she said. “Engaging in calling out prevents that from happening, so finding places for us to pull each other into conversation… allows us to feel connected, versus ostracized.”

Aanya Panyadahundi can be reached at [email protected].

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