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I think we can all create a calling culture in America. I don't despair.


I don't think those people are disposable from ABC. This is the 10 percent happier podcast. I'm Dan Harris. Hey, guys, on this Martin Luther King Day, it may be tempting to fear that America and the rest of the world may never have been further away from the kind of inclusive society that Dr. King called for so eloquently and fought for so hard.


So today we are, I hope, going to give you a little hope and perhaps also some concrete ideas for how you can be an engaged citizen without losing your mind, which is a goal we talk about a lot on the show. My guest today is Loretta Ross, who describes herself as a radical black feminist activist and public intellectual. She's a visiting associate professor at Smith College and she also teaches an online course that caught our eye recently. It's called Calling in the Calling Out Culture.


She believes that calling out, which is quite common on social media, as many of you know, is adding way too much toxicity to our discourse and alienating people who might otherwise be allies. Instead, she believes in calling in which steadfastly insists on a large measure of grace and rejects the impulse to dehumanize people with whom we disagree. As you will hear, Loretta is a long time leftist. But no matter where you stand politically, I think it's worth listening here because the point is that she's modeling a compelling mode of engaging that is consistently open minded and large hearted.


And as you will hear, this is something that she has personally put to the test as a black woman who has worked with white supremacists and a rape survivor who has worked with incarcerated rapists. A fascinating person, a fascinating discussion. I think you're going to get a lot out of it. So here we go with Loretta Ross. Loretta, great to meet you, thanks for coming on. Thanks for having me on your show. Fortunately or unfortunately, this is the perfect moment to have you on.


I wish it was a calmer moment in history, but given that it's not, I'm glad that I have the chance to talk to you.


Yeah. When I woke up on Wednesday morning after the election, I was euphoric because I knew that we had turned Georgia blue and then five hours later. I was despairing because we had so much further to go to bring our country back from the brink of self-destruction and so. I'm just roiling emotions right now because I fear for our democracy, even though I call myself the queen of the call. In culture, there are some people I don't want to call in at all.


I'm going to call them out because they enabled this insurrection. This seems to be that if they can't control it, they don't want to share democracy.


You said before that you have the. The moniker of the queen of the call in culture. Do you have any hope that there are some constructive calling in that can be done at this time in a country where we are really at each other's throats?


Well, I don't think we're all at each other's throat. If you don't mind, out indulging me, I'll tell you how I see the world. I think that, first of all, I live in a 90 percent bubble of people who are progressive. Sometimes they even call us radical, which I don't mind. I consider that a compliment. But the people that I'm most in conversation with, we understand that there's things like racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, immigration, violence and all of that stuff going in the world.


We even have our own little lexicon of all the isms that we talk about. And part of my problem is that we in the 90 percent bubble, spent too much time trying to turn ourselves into one hundred percenters like we're supposed to be perfectly aligned with every thought. And so if I work on women's rights, that means that I'm doing something wrong because I'm not working on trans rights. If I'm working on trans right, I'm doing something wrong. If I'm not working on racial justice, on and on and on.


That's why I call this a circular firing squad, because we're all on the same team. But we spend our best anger on each other for not being cult members. We're all supposed to be apparently one hundred percent aligned outside of us or what I call the seventy five percenters.


These are people who don't use our insider jargon of homophobia and all of these other words, but they're aligned with us in a worldview. So since I'm a women's rights activist, a seventy five percent for me would be somebody like the Girl Scouts. Well, they may not be organizing the Girl Scouts to march at a protest like I would, but at the same time they work for women's and girls empowerment. So they would be my ally even if they are repelled by my jargon.


So I'm going to find a way to talk to them in a registry that they could hear versus the register that I would use for the 90 percenters. Outside of the seventy five percenters are the middle of the road instead of 50 percenters. Those are people like my parents. My father was a lifer in the military, in the army, very conservative, retired after twenty six years. My mother was a southern evangelical Christian woman, and there probably wasn't a whole lot of common language that I could use from my 90 percent bubble on my parents.


But at the same time, they taught me their values. And I'll just tell you a conversation that my mom and I had. One day back in the fifties, my mother had started a black Girl Scout troop in San Antonio where I was because black girls weren't allowed to join the white Girl Scouts troops. And every weekend we had to cook food and feed it to the homeless people in San Antonio. And so mom could never figure out what a social justice human rights activist did.


And finally, I put it to her. I said, Mom, do you remember when we had to feed the homeless people when I was a Girl Scout? And she of course, she remember she said yes. I said, well, as a human rights activist, I asked why they're hungry in the first place. And she got it because she said, oh, OK, I feed them. And you want to know why they're hungry. And so you can use that kind of values driven language to talk to 50 percenters if you stay away from your jargon and your assumptions that they don't have values that you can agree with.


Now, outside of the 50 percenters are the twenty five percenters. I think those with the majority of the people who stormed the Capitol, they are the ones who honestly fear that they are losing control of the country. They've been told by some very unscrupulous people that if they don't remain in power, the country's going to go to hell, Western civilization will collapse, Christmas will not be celebrated and pedophiles will take your children. I think that's the kind of things that they say to each other and they sincerely believe that.


And then outside of them are what I call the zero percenters. They was the ones that showed up in military gear with the zip ties ready to actually do harm to people in the capital. They showed up with guns and bombs and things. And so when I talk about calling in, I'm only trying to call in people from the fifty percent to seventy five percent and the 90 percent circle. I have a totally different call out strategy for the twenty five and the zeros that a twenty five percent or sometimes.


You can talk to them, but I think that the people who could best influence them would be people like my mom and dad, that my mom can go to the left or the right, depending on which value string is plucked, because she could use a religious background to talk that God talk to the twenty five percenters and still pull them towards us. But if but if I don't pay attention to my mom, the twenty five percenters will pull her towards them because she doesn't believe in a lot of what I believed in about women's rights and gay rights and trans rights.


She would be totally bewildered by all of that. But for the 04 percenters, they know better. They are hypocrites and cynics. They are manipulating people's needs and fears so that they can remain in power. And that's the people I'm going to always call out. So I'm not confused that calling in is not for every situation, but I do give people the benefit of the doubt. But then at the same time, like Maya Angelou says, when people show you who they are, believe them.


And so I'm definitely one of those. They have shown me who they are when they try to bring down our democracy by refusing to accept the results of a democratic election. Do you think the rioters and those who sympathize with them, I mean, we're talking about a large number of people, would you include the latter category, those who sympathize with them, a large number of people with whom we share this country?


Where is your optimism level around peaceful cohabitation, if not mutual understanding?


Well, the lion's share of the forest with gear to, hey, the deer can make all the offers they want, but if the lion is determined to only see the deer as prey. That is not equal power relationships there. And so I'm very willing to give people in the 25 percent the benefit of the doubt. I mean, I've worked to deprogram people in the hate movement. Former Klu Klux Klansman and Aryan Nations members and militia members. So it's not that I don't think people can change, but the desire for change for all of those people at Deprogram came from within.


It did not come from without. Nothing anybody said to them could have made them change their minds. They had to have those epiphanies on their own and then slow walk themselves back into normal society. That's just impossible to make. Anybody on the left or the right change their minds just because someone contradicts their views. They have to decide that they can't stand the cognitive dissonance between how good they think they are on the inside and how badly they're behaving towards others.


But my concern is that you use the phrase normal society. It seems like the fringe has become mainstream. We have got dozens and dozens, scores of members of Congress who, even after the place was stormed, are talking about a rigged and stolen election.


That kind of talk used to be relegated to the fringes of our society on the left and the right. And now it's like, you know, if not mainstream, certainly closer.


Well, I'm sure you've heard of the concept of the Overton Window and it's shifted so far to the right that what was fringe has become mainstream within the Republican Party. When David Duke used to. Yeah, you know, David Duke, he's a Klansman who ran for governor of Louisiana and stuff when he formed his new Klan group. And he started saying that we should bar all non-white immigrants to this country, that this should be a white country only that only white voters should matter all of those things, he said in the nineteen seventies and eighties, people pooh poohed as the fringe.


And then we watch not David Duke, but his ideas marched from the margins to the center so that David Duke's plans became Republican policy. If you're serving that same ideology of creating an apartheid like system in America so that only white people have any power and only white people get to march into the capital without fear of police, that's not a sustainable democracy. And I don't know how we can persuade them that you can't sign up for a pluralistic democracy and then just turn it all over just because you lose an election.


So where does that leave us? Where does it leave us this question of where it leaves them, because we're moving towards the future and they're trying to refight the civil war that's been I'm not sure how successful they're going to be rolling time backwards. I think there's too many forces, universal and political and social and emotional against them. Let's talk about some of the material that got me and my team very interested in you and your work initially before the.


Horror at the US Capitol, can you talk about the difference between calling in and calling out? Oh, I love talking about the difference between calling in and calling out back in twenty fifteen. My grandson never answered his phone and I finally pleaded with him, how do I reach you? And he said, What Grandma get on Facebook? And so I got on Facebook and he immediately migrated off of it because he was for old folks, he as well.


But once I got on Facebook I noticed how many people were being to each other through social media. And so when I asked one of the young students I was working with about what was going on, she said, oh, you need to call up culture. And I see your name again, and she said, Yeah, and I said, well, there is somebody are doing about it because I've seen people say things online that I don't think they say to each other in person.


I mean, I'm pretty old and I've been through a lot of social justice movements. Back in the 70s, there was a part of you that had had to be in face to face conversations. And so when I asked her, what are you doing about it, she kind of shrugged her shoulders, just walked away, like, is there anything that can be done about it? And that's when I started reviewing at that time, you know, by close to 50 years of experience doing social justice work.


And I said, well, there are things we can do about it, because I live in Atlanta and I've heard the stories of how the civil rights leaders fought behind closed doors, but presented a united front when it was time to take on Jim Crow segregation. I've been in the women's movement. We always fight within the women's movement, but we united in dismantling patriarchy and sexism. I mean, we don't belong all belong to one organization. We're a movement because we have a lot of different thoughts, but we're all moving in the same direction.


That's what a movement does when you have the same thought and you're moving in the same direction. That's what a cult does. And we are not a cult.


And so I've been in social justice movements for civil rights, women's rights, human rights, disability rights that successfully had the political debates that you're supposed to have in a pluralistic society but didn't turn on each other but turn to each other when it was time to face an opponent. But something's happened with the social media landscape, and so when Marissa walked away, she had no solution to the core of our culture. I said, well. We actually called each other in, even if we didn't agree, we called each other in so that we could be stronger together.


And so back to your question about calling in is simply a call out done with love and respect is that you hold people accountable for things that either they've done or you think they've done. But instead of responding with anger and shame and blame, you pass to give them the benefit of the doubt because you might have misinterpreted it. They might have misstated it. They may regret what they've done in the past. If you give people the benefit of the doubt, you asked to get a chance to peer into their heart instead of just react to their words.


And so I believe in holding people accountable, but I choose to do so with grace and forgiveness as opposed to anger and punishment. Because the other thing that's contradictory for me is that if I'm an opponent of the prison industrial complex, why am I using his techniques on other people who I think have done wrong? And certainly I haven't ever led a blameless mistake free life. I mean, I had to learn in my 20s to forgive myself for my little mistakes because I knew I'd make bigger ones later on.


And so if I could feel that about myself, why can't I feel bad about others? Because other people are as complicated as I am. I give them that benefit, too. And so are calling in for somebody who says something sexist would be, you know, when you use that word the other day. I'm not sure what you meant by it. Do you mind if we go out and have some coffee to talk about it? Or sometimes you can just say something simple, like, I beg your pardon, and then pause and let them rethink their own words.


You haven't called them out. You haven't accused them of anything you've just indicated that may not have landed the way you meant that to be. I'm also critical of holding people, punishing people for things that they did a long time ago, because people do change. People do grow. And so if somebody does something wrong when they are a stupid teenager and we all did wrong things when we were stupid teenagers and then years later is found out about them, I'm first going to give them the due process of an investigation to see where they are.


Now, I'm going to assume that they did the stupid thing as a teenager, but I'm going to see where you are now before I weaponize that knowledge issue, because I'm a give you the grace of expecting that you learn from it. Now, if you haven't shown that you've grown, then I'm going to use another tactic.


A few moments ago, you described the move of calling in rather than calling out is a choice that you make the choice to do this in a sort of large hearted way where where you're willing to give people grace to not presume the worst about them, to try to see it from their point of view. I just look at my own mind and I feel so many times I have not made that choice.


How do we get better at building the decision to make that choice as a reflex?


It takes a lot of years and here I'm almost 70 years old and I'm still working on myself. I can't say it's easy, even as an elder. Again, I tell things through stories. When I was twenty five, I became the director of a rape crisis center, the D.C. Rape Crisis Center, and we got approached by men who were incarcerated for raping and murdering women. And one guy, William Fuller, wrote us this letter and basically William said outside, I raped women, inside I'm raping men and I don't want to be a rapist anymore.


Can you imagine a group of rape survivors getting that kind of letter? And we were like horrified. We barely had enough resources to help the survivors. They we're calling our hotline and here's our perpetrator asking us for help. So it sat there simmering on our souls for a number of months before we could even answer. And he wasn't going anywhere, is incarcerated for life. And so finally, I got in my car and drove to Lorton, which was then D.C. jail, and went through the strip, searched to get.


I had never been in a prison before, so I didn't know how humiliating it was to even be a visitor to this. And it was really an awful experience. But once I got to meet with William, I found out that he was in his mid thirties. He had raped and murdered a woman when he was eighteen, and somehow between 18 and 35, he'd gotten hold of some black feminist literature. And it had changed his consciousness. And he was scary as all get out, not because of his affect, but because of his body.


If you are the rapist, the big man in the prison, that means you're working out, you're building up your body. You've got these muscles that are, you know, bulging through shirts and stuff like that because that's what you do not to be a victim when you're incarcerated. So he learned as a skinny little 18 year old. And by the time I made him 17 years later, he was a scary SLB, I'm telling you.


And the six other men he bought to meet with me were also big and intimidating. So they were not the victims of the prison. They were the big boys of the prison wanting to be different. And so we started well, first of all, we set up some rules.


We're like, OK, whatever you think we're going to do, we are not bringing you cigarettes, no drugs, no tennis shoes. We're not writing any letters of pardon or support to the parole board. We are not here to be used by you. But if you're honest about wanting some conversation around feminism and how you can stop the rape culture, we're here for you. And so for two and a half years, we would go there every Friday, rotating every Friday to have two hour sessions with these men.


In my library today, I still have multiple copies of books because I have to buy six books, take them to the prison. They could read them that I had to bring those same six months redcap, if that would be able to keep my library. So why do you have like five or six copies of the same book that you can give to anybody? But I tell you that story to say that was when I confronted my first big demon that I internalize because I'm a rape and incest survivor.


That's what brought me to the rape crisis center in the first place. And once I heard the stories of how those men had been violated before they became violators because they had been also molested as children, no one comes out of the womb saying, I'm just going to mess people up. Human rights violators are created. They're not born. And so. I found a little bit of my hatred of rapists, a little bit, not all of it, but a little bit of my hatred of rapists getting eroded.


OK, fast for 20 years ago. By that time, I'm working for Reverend C.T. Vivian, who died the same day Congressman John Lewis died. But he was my boss. He was my mentor at what was the National Anti Klan Network, which had become the Center for Democratic Renewal. And Reverend Vivian always said to us, when you ask people to give up hate, then you need to be there for them when they do. And the first time he said that, I muttered under my breath, Oh, because you can't curse in front of a minister.


So I couldn't say it out loud, but that's what I felt, because as a black woman monitoring the Klu Klux Klan, I had no problems dehumanizing them because they dehumanize me. And you're talking about lynchings and went to Blakely, Georgia, to investigate a fire in a black home two blocks from the fire department that burnt up a five year old black child because the Klan was running the fire department. I mean. How am I supposed to give up hate when I have to investigate the death of a five year old?


From a fire when the fire department was only two blocks away and didn't come until two hours later, I mean, this is just what we deal with. When you have, you know, hate group members infiltrating law enforcement and fire departments and hospitals and stuff like that, and so when Reverend Vivian told us that we needed to be there for them when they do. I didn't get it, I didn't agree, I actually had conversations with my friends, I said, you know, Jesus said, turn the other cheek, but I'm tired of my cheeks being bloody.


I really, really am. I am not trying to audition for Jesus job. I just really I really am having trouble with this.


And so. One day I get a call, this deep voice says, can I speak to Leonard Zeskind? And Leonard was our research director who led the work and meeting with people who had left the hate movement. He would do the actual deprogramming. So I said, OK, who's calling? This is Floyd Cochran. I said the floor cockblock, because I monitor this guy, I do exactly what he was the national spokesman for Richard Butler's Aryan Nation in Hayden Lake, Idaho.


Yes, this is Floyd Cochran and I want to talk to him and I said, can I take a message for him? That's what I can do. And so. I gave Lenny the message, it turns out that Floyd, second son, had been born with a cleft palate and his Aryan Nazi buddies told him that his son was a genetic defect who needed to be put to death because good Aryans didn't deal with disabled people. They put them to death.


After Floyd realized that he started asking questions of Pastor Richard Butler, as they called him, he only got a chance to ask questions for a couple of weeks before the butler kicked him off the compound. That Floyd had been a Nazi from age 14. He was now in his late 30s. He knew the Bible inside out. He was the best recruiter that that the Aryan Nations had ever seen. He was naturally traveling and all of that. And so Pastor Butler is busy.


So I'll try to be respectful, keep Floyd off the compound. And so he was at the end of the rope when he called our organization because we were known for helping people leave the hate movement. So let me talk to him for a number of weeks, gave him food to eat and helped him find a hotel room to stay in and stuff like that. And then he was turned over to me for his re-entry back into society. And so when I first met Floyd, he was a very thin five, four, seven, five foot eight.


Guy with the beard who smoked cigarettes and drank coffee incessantly, I don't know if I ever saw Floyd eat, drink black coffee and smoke cigarettes. He was very intense, very tightly wound.


But one of the things that was haunting Floyd was that he had recruited these two brothers named Freeman in Allentown, Pennsylvania, into the skinhead movement, into the Aryan Nations over a number of years. He got them when they were 14 or 15 years old. I'm not sure of the ages. But one night the two kids came home and murdered their entire family while their mother, their father, the 12 year old brother Troy, thought that this was his responsibility because he had bought those kids into the hate movement.


And so what Floyd wanted to do was do a tour of atonement.


He wanted to. Apologize for all the harm he had done that he was now reckoning with, he particularly wanted to go back to Pennsylvania and talk to the people in Allentown because that was a horrific crime to take place. He wanted to dissuade other alienated white kids from joining the movement. So we ended up on this tour of apology. And. It was in the process of learning to talk to people like Floyd that I saw his humanity. He had joined the Nazis at 14 because he was a small, skinny kid that got bullied and this all white portion of upstate New York.


He'd never met a Jewish person. He never met a black person. But he found out that when he put on that Nazi signee insignia, instead of him being afraid, everybody was afraid of him. It's just that simple. And so I don't want to tell too long a story, but this is the truth, this is what I've lived through. And when you learn to meet the human beings behind me, it is very hard to continue to hate them.


Now, if I can call in a Nazi, if I can call in a rapist, why can I call in somebody who gets the gender pronoun right, wrong, or says something that is racist and they may not know what's racist? I mean, I can and I tell myself, get over yourself, kid. I mean, if you can figure out how to see the humanity of people who have done actual harm to others, like the rapist, most of them had murdered the women that they had raped.


Then everybody else is just some problematic. I just got to figure out how you can work with them. That's what I honestly feel in my heart. If you can't hate the clan who's left.


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It's the new Love Your Car guarantee from CarMax. Learn more today at CarMax Dotcom. We're back now with Loretta Ross. Before we dive in, though, I want to ask you a favor.


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Thank you. And let's get back now to my conversation with Loretta Ross. As I listen to the extraordinary work you've done, these incredible stories and I considered the toxicity of our dialogue in pretty much every nook and cranny of our culture right now, and not many of us will have the experiences that you've had.


Not many of us will be trained by life in the way that you have to develop new muscles to call in rather than call out. So I guess I'm wondering what advice, if any, would you have for, you know, people who can hear the sound of your voice right now?


Well, first of all, I teach these techniques online for five dollars a class. It's not like I'm not smart and only I can figure this out. It's about, first of all, understanding how you were taught as a child to be accountable for your own mistakes. Where you punished, where you trained. Where you forgive it, how are your fight flight or freeze instincts formed as a child? So in my first class, I'm going to ask that question and whatever those patterns were as a child are the same patterns you visit on other people for making mistakes.


So you're going to ask yourself, how well did that work for me when I didn't know something? And you ask yourself, how well is this serving me to carry these grudges? Am I happier because I'm carrying this grudge? Am I happier because I just blew up somebody else's life? Am I wondering if I should walk on eggshells in case somebody blows up my. These are ways that we can choose to be more at peace with ourselves by, first of all, figuring out how we got to where we are and making different choices to not rob ourselves around peace, happiness and sanity.


And these are all tangible things, I'm no psychologist, I'm an organizer, a community organizer, and since I started teaching five years ago, I'm a fake academic.


But these are all terrible things.


If a twenty five year old rape survivor can learn to talk to a rapist, you're telling me I can't talk to the person who caused me the cover girl because they don't know that that's an inappropriate word right now. What you just said there reminds me of something you wrote. You wrote an excellent op ed in The New York Times, which I'll put a link to in the show notes here. But I just want to read one paragraph from it that struck me as.


Maybe provocative for some people, so I'll just read it, you wrote, Can we avoid individualizing oppression and not use the movement as our personal therapy space? Thus, even as an incest and hate crime survivor, I have to recognize that not every flirtatious man is a potential rapist, nor every racially challenged white person is a Trump supporter. In particular, they're the provocative bit potentially for some people would be the idea of using a movement as personal therapy.


Well, I actually have had a theory that I could describe that with and just personal experience. So I'm not quite sure which way you want me to go either way. But let's start with the theory, because I think it needs to be examined. I mean, we've had about whiteness studies around for since the early 1990s. I think the first book was written by David Rodica about 1990, 1991. Don't quote me on the dates, but I'm pretty clear when that started to happen.


And I think it is very necessary for white people to examine their whiteness and how it was constructed. At the same time, the way is being examined lands on a potential solution, it says, and now you have to give up your whiteness, pretend that you're not white, pretend that you don't want to enjoy white privilege. And I'm like, wait a moment, nobody's in the womb saying, oh, I'm going to be born white or I'm going to be born black or I'm going to be born a woman.


These are characteristics you have absolutely no control up. So how are you supposed to heal from this trauma and fight white supremacy by pretending not to be white? So they have a good analysis that lands at a false solution for me, because all that is done is produce a whole lot of white guilt. That's part two of the movement, instead of the movement being an organizing space to overcome injustice, is serving as a therapy space for people to deal with their guilt about their immutable characteristics that they have no control over.


You can't change who you are. You can change what you do, and that then will change who you are. And so instead of whiteness studies ending up in white fragility, I'd rather whiteness studies ending up in white courage. I'd rather I was reading the stories about Viola Liuzzo or the other early white people who participated in the movies, sometimes giving their lives, I want to know more about the white abolitionists in the Civil War than white people even in the South who fought against slavery.


I want to know more about those stories that have been totally obliterated from the history books. And it's only because I've seen it from the black side of things that I even know they exist. Most white people don't even know those things. They said that those people exist every day, but it's just like the white person in the Starbucks who pulled out her cell phone to record what was going on when these two black men were arrested for sitting in a Starbucks.


I mean, we can lift up the stories of white courage instead of wildly in the morass of white guilt and fragility. And so that's my critique both academically and politically of how whiteness studies does. A great analysis of whiteness got created as an artificial category, but just because they made it up, it doesn't mean it doesn't hurt. And then what can be done about it? How can it be used to defeat the ideology of white supremacy? Because white supremacy is an ideology.


It's not a race of people. All white supremacists aren't white and not all white people are white supremacists. So if you can separate the ideas from the skin color, you can actually do some good work. I want to follow up on that, I'll just call out that you may hear Call-out, that's a loaded phrase in this context. I'll just point out that you may hear a little background noise because I have a and insistent feline who's on my lap.


Now, I just want to be clear. You said something about how you think that white people should work to understand their own whiteness.


And you don't want the movement for equality to be completely stuck in therapy. So how do you do both at the same time?


You know, that's the debate I have in all of my online classes, which are majority white, I admit, because that's who's drawn to trying to learn how to live in this world differently for the most part. But that's fine. And the debate is amongst the white participants in my class, the majority of them. How much time do we spend getting to know and trust each other to do the work, that's their position and I come in a different way.


Why don't you do the work first and develop whether you can trust and get to know each other. You'll find out who people are by working with them, by expecting them to do something that they take and responsibility for. And they don't are expecting them to Bill's face or give up airspace to somebody who's voice who needs to be heard. All of those kinds of things is through the work. You'll find out who they are and who you are. But if you're waiting to build these bonds of relationship and trust and self disclosure before you do the work, then you're working on the premise that the people who know you can't hurt you.


That has not been my experience. And I frankly think the people that hurt me the worst are the ones that are close to me. So that's a theory that I think is borne of white supremacy. That's I called the kith and kin system of care, which means that you're taught to only care for people who you can relate to, who look like you, and then that is your circle of care, compassion and everybody else's. The other and I stand on the other hand, I care about myself and my own integrity that defines who I want to care about.


And then because I want to be true to my integrity, I will work with everybody who's able to be worked with. And then develop through that work relationship how I feel about them. You know, I feel like you're a fellow human being. I'll find out whether you're good movement person by working with you. But I'm not going to sit around in some discussion group with time three minutes story. Oh, let's pass the baton. Let me tell you about how my family was.


Let me tell you about sometimes somebody didn't respect me or. I have a therapist or I do that work when they get paid very well to listen to my sad stories, but I don't organize so that I can create therapy spaces for people that are supposed to be working because they claim they want to end oppression. Let me go back to training the muscle to call in rather than call out, because on this show, I am very interested in sort of training the mind.


We talk a lot about meditation.


And so you when you talked about teaching people to to build the muscle, to call in rather than call out, the first thing you, I believe, reference doing is getting people to look at their own personal histories and how were they punished and how do they visit that sort of conscious or unconscious justice delivery mechanism upon the people in their world? Where do you go after that?


Well, then it gets to examining how do you walk through the world right now? Yeah, what are things that you see around you that you wish you could speak up on and what's keeping you from doing that right now?


Let's go there. And then show me times when you have been brave so many times when you have said, no, I can't take this anymore or this is wrong and stuff like that. So it's clear that every human being that are basically on this side of sanity have both of those things in their souls. So I want to build up that good stuff in you and let you deal with the bad stuff in you, because I'm not your judge and jury.


I am a co-worker whose entire depended on you, who believe we share this fragile planet together. So I need you to be in this planet as healthy and as fruitful and as generous as you can be so that I don't have to fight you as well as fight the people who have no intention of being any better.


What are the downsides of the Call-out culture, what are the deleterious societal impacts of this? Dynamic, I think the most toxic impact is that it makes people afraid to share their honest thoughts for fear that they'll be jumped on or that someone will pillory them. And so it impoverishes our shared pool of knowledge because people withhold their honest cells and they start performing. Oh, let me cure rate. What I've got to say before I say it or not say it in case I don't get the words right or let me avoid the conflict or what.


Some people have a calling out conflict and just become a bystander. And I think I have anything I can do helpful to move us past this point. I think it makes people afraid to be real. I think it makes more people use it sometimes as self aggrandizement, as a way to send out their own little WOAK signals and vertue signals and how great I am because I identify this person was wrong. This person is toxic or manipulative or dishonest, and then they gleefully and almost sadistically attach those labels to people.


And quite often, whatever the person actually did that the person believes they need that label for is lost in the exaggeration. So it might be you use the word colored women as when they should have been women of color. Well, once I call you a racist, the fact that you just transposed the phrase is going to be lost in the fact that everything else you do is going to be interpreted through a racist lens. There's no forgiveness. There is a presumption of guilt instead of innocence.


And I've gone from attacking the words you use to now attacking your fundamental character, your moral worth as a human being. And moreover, when I see you out to dinner with somebody, then I'm going to assume that person is racist, too, because they're hanging out with you. And I already know you're a racist because that person must be a racist and it just goes on and on and on. So those are some of the harms of the caller culture.


I could talk about them at length. Uncle Frank at the Thanksgiving table will say something really awful, like, I don't think those Mexicans should come here and take our jobs, for example, and people sit back because they don't want to confront Uncle Frank. They don't want to blow up the Thanksgiving dinner table. They don't want to be seen as, you know, the P.C. cops trying to police Uncle Frank and all of that are, you know, basically blow up their relationship with Uncle Frank.


So I teach people you don't have to call Frank, Uncle Frank out. You can call Uncle Frank in. You know, Uncle Frank, every time you say that word, even though I'm not Mexican, it hurts me. Do you want to hurt me like that? Do you love me, Uncle Frank? You know, just ask some basic questions, Uncle Frank, I really love my relationship with you. Can we talk about why you use words that hurt me?


And can you choose to use words that won't hurt me, at least in my presence? But that is assuming that you care enough about Uncle Frank to treat him with respect, even if you disagree with what he says. But if you use your were his words as an excuse to not respect him and to ruin the relationship that you have with him, then that's a different choice. I'm saying that we have choices with Uncle Frank at the dinner table without blowing up the relationship or blowing up Thanksgiving.


Have you gotten pushback for this call in preference, I mean, I know you signed that controversial Harper's letter that people are familiar with it. It's basically a lot of people, prominent intellectuals, signed this letter that was critical of the so-called cancel culture, which is related to the color culture. So have you gotten called out for for calling in?


Well, I must be doing something right, because the right wing calls me out and the left wing calls me out for preaching the doctrine of calling in. So obviously, I'm not doing it to make a lot of friends or anything. I kind of think it's a bit ironic that I get called out for criticizing the black culture by both the left and the right. It doesn't affect my relationship with my own integrity, though, because your reputation is what other people think they know about your integrity is what you know about yourself.


So says Lewis McMaster Bujold, a very famous science fiction writer I adore. And so I quote Loess when I think I'm confused and I offer her wisdom to anybody else. Don't spend a lot of time trying to protect your reputation. Spend all your time protecting your integrity because you're the person you have to sleep with every night.


The criticism from the left, if I understand it, is that calling in rather than calling out can serve only to protect people's white fragility. What do you say when people say, you know, if you're coddling people who are, I don't know, transgressing in one way or another, you're just going to allow them to get more firmly entrenched in their white privilege or whatever?


Well, as a black woman who goes around saying the phrase white supremacy as often as I can to white people and watching them gag on it, I don't think I'm coddle them at all. This is what I do is an antifascists activist and researcher. I teach about the ideology of white supremacy. So that doesn't sound like I'm softening my message. It doesn't sound like I'm euphemized. What is going on? I just don't fail to see the humanity of the people caught up in the system.


And that's all I'm saying. I used the word white supremacy very selectively to talk about people who adhere to a certain body of ideas. I don't use it loosely to say it's all white people know more than I use the word sexist to say it's all men are all black men are actually rapists, even though the man who raped me were black. I mean, you just don't do that. I can't do that. I wasn't able to do that when I was 14 years old and certainly can't do it at sixty seven.


Because I had five wonderful brothers and a father who were not the man who raped me. So, I mean, it wouldn't make sense to go in that kind of dogmatic binary thinking that too many people are trapped in.


Tell me if I'm restating this correctly, but it seems like the nub of your message is you reserve the right to criticize systems and structures and even people who who you disagree with.


You also at the same time, reserve the right to see the humanity in everybody.


Right. I mean, I have to honestly say that if Donald Trump were in my backyard drowning in my swimming pool, as much as I hate what he did, I'd still throw him a life raft because it's not about whether or not Donald Trump deserves to be saved. But do I deserve to be his executioner? And I don't think so. You know, Bryan Stevenson taught us that lesson from the Equal Justice Initiative. It's not that he's done wrong.


Do you deserve to kill him for an. You know, and I'm like, no, I throw him a life raft, then put him in jail, I threw my life skills. I don't, you know, like I'm not that innocent a person. And again. In a way, I pity the man, because as I read his niece's book about how dysfunctional and toxic his father was, I mean, what child could have come out right under that kind of toxic environment?


And so there's a part of my heart that I feel sorry for him. But that doesn't mean I wouldn't hold him accountable for what he's done. But I wouldn't let him drown in my swimming pool either. That's what kind of being a complicated person is.


Yeah, it feels to me just like seeing things as they are.


Yeah. I rather see things as they are than as I wish they were, because then I can build the things I want to see if I pay attention to reality. I should also say I'm kind of Lefranc because I majored in chemistry and physics. So I've always kind of had this kind of linear thinking. I think that like any science experiment, you're kind of experiment with stuff ninety nine times before you land on the one hundred time. Right, right.


And human beings are no different. You're going to try ninety nine different strategies for changing a human heart and mind to you land on that sweet spot that actually works. And I don't get mad at them because the ninety nine other ways didn't work. It's all a big experiment anyway. We're going to post this interview on MLK Day and. America will still be in the throes of. Post capital riot. Agony. What's your most? Optimistic forecast for how we operate and talk to one another as a country going forward from here?


Well, first of all, I'm a black woman and I come from a lineage of people there for four hundred years who have never given up hope. Because if they had given up hope, I wouldn't be here able to talk to you. And so I'm a good promoter of hope, because that's what I've had to do to survive. That's what my parents and I can trace back to eighteen forty four in central Texas I had to do to survive. So I find a white people generally give in to cynicism and despair too easily.


Maybe that's a culture. That creates that, I don't know, but we've lost some of the worst things human beings can do to each other and we still have not given up faith in each other and our ability to build a better world. We know we're citizens of a country that has not yet come to be. We've known that our local. So that's what gives me hope, because I got these ancestors standing in my heart saying, you can do this, you can do this, I've got a lot of fundamental belief in the goodness of humanity.


I mean, even the worst people I've met in the world actually had kindness. And I've just found astonishing grace in the most unlikely people and places. And if I can offer people the inside of my experiences to be able to see with my eyes how the most unlikely, the most improbable circumstances can show you how wonderful this world can be, then you'll get through this life pretty well. I find that as hard as it is to realize that we're the creators of our own unhappiness too often.


I mean, you can't control whether you get covid you may not be able to control. My sister just died a week, six days ago. I'm sorry. Yeah, I mean, I could be Debbie Downer on your show, but I'm enjoy the fact that I had her in my life for sixty six years before she died. I must celebrate her life, not just mourn her passing. And she's my second sister to die within 12 months, I should add that covid and everything else is ravaging my community and I still have not lost my hope that we're going to get through this and that we're going to get through this in a way that's going to astonish us, because we do have this depth of resilience that I'm talking about us collectively, not just the alleged resilience of black women treated as mules and saviors in the same breath, but this resilience in the human spirit that I just find so awesome.


And like I said, I expect people who are outwardly nice to do wonderful things. But when I see it out of somebody that has every reason not to be nice and kind, do something wonderful, I'm just awed by that. So how can I judge you by your social location or your privileges until I get an idea of seeing what happened to you? And what did you make of it? Loretta, it's been a total pleasure to sit with you for a little while.


Thank you. I've never had an interview that let me talk so much. Lot of people on the air because they love hearing. No, don't get me wrong. I know. I love hearing my own voice. I love it. But I prefer to hear yours.


Well, thank you. Big thanks again to Loretta. It was great to meet her virtually, thank you as well to everybody who worked so hard to make this show a reality. Samuel Johns is our senior producer, D.J. Cashmeres. Our producer Jules Dodson is our A.P. Our sound designer is Matt Boynton from Ultraviolet Audio. Maria Wartell is our production coordinator. We get a ton of really helpful input from our colleagues such as Ben Rubin, Nate, Toby Jen Point, Liz Levin.


I should also mention Ray Housman weighs in on occasion with very helpful notes as well. Thank you, Ray. Also, a big thank you to my ABC News comrade's Ryan Kessler and Josh Cohen. We'll see you all on Wednesday for a great conversation with a teacher named Joe to Maury Gibson. We're talking about classic Buddhist list, the five precepts. That's on Wednesday. I give you one definition of an unusual car. Oh, I don't think that was ever in question.


Marvel Studios first series has arrived on Disney from. You you're down, I think, wrong to. The universe. He's expanding Juanda. And you really wonder, welcome home, Marvel Studios, one division. I think we handled that well. First two episodes now streaming exclusively on Disney plus.