Why do we need accountability?
For The People (FTP) began when community supported organizers came together to call out the organization they were affiliated with for harmful instances of rape culture and racism. The organization refused to be accountable and shut down the organizers means of fundraising for their projects. Those organizers then worked together to create a new method to sustain their projects and thus FTP was born.
This means that our current organizers (FTPOs) have a deep understanding of the need for accountability in social justice movement spaces. However, “accountability” can often be seen as a buzz word that doesn’t have a clear meaning. In fact, it is important for individuals and organizations to define what accountability means for them. Therefore, this document outlines what FTP means by accountability. FTP demonstrates what it means to be in relation to each other and the community because there can be no accountability without relationships.
FTP recognizes that at some point we will make mistakes. All organizations and organizers make mistakes; this is normal and natural. We believe that to make mistakes is not wrong, but to not recognize and be accountable for those mistakes is wrong. Therefore FTP believes in the validity of “call out culture” as one particular means to create accountability and motivate justice in our organizing circles. If we do not call out our own corruption and dishonesty, we cannot call out the corruption and dishonesty of the system in power. There can be no accountability without transparency and honesty. This means that integrity is a major part of FTP’s understanding of accountability.
How do we show accountability?
With these considerations and our history as an organization, we, FTP, and our FTPOs pledge:
- To listen with compassion to call ins and call outs offered by our FTPOs, Board, contributors, and our communities.
- To consider ways we can make amends for any wrongdoing we might commit and take time-appropriate action to make amends.
- To learn from call ins, call outs, and general critiques so we do not continue to make the same mistakes.
- To believe and prioritize survivors and be sensitive to their needs.
- To create a safe space for our community and each other.
- To look for and implement transformative justice practices in dealing with conflict.
- To carefully consider the role of historical trauma, systems of oppression, and the dynamics of race and gender when dealing with conflict.
- To recognize the unequal inputs of labor of women, queer, trans, and non-binary people in comparison to cis men, and to try to prevent such unequal labor distribution.
- To protect each other from attacks from patriarchal and racist power structures.
- To learn about internalized oppression and its role in causing harm.
- To continuously deepen our analysis of the systems of oppression and how they factor into organizing for justice.
- To work hard to recognize and dismantle our own fragility and privilege, and to support each other through that process with resources and shared wisdom.
- To push each other to be more authentic, more honest, and more radical in our understanding of justice and collective liberation.
- To avoid cultural appropriation and co-optation, and to promote solidarity, by making every effort to cite our sources of ideas, campaigns, and organizing methods.
- To work beyond equality and inclusion towards equity in all decision-making.
- To make reparation with an aim towards reconciliation instead of demanding forgiveness.
- To be vigilant to instances of gaslighting and emotional abuse.
- To ask each other for help when we need it and to be clear in communicating our needs.
- To take time off, particularly vacation time, for self-care so that we sustain ourselves in this work.
What do we mean by call outs and call ins?
What do we mean by call out culture?
- If our Board members or our FTPOs are publicly criticized for perceived wrongdoing, whether on social media, by public letter, at a public event, or by word of mouth in the community, we consider that a call out.
- Call outs always come from those who are more marginalized. It takes a great deal of courage for a marginalized person to call out the oppression they have suffered. That is why call outs should be taken seriously.
- Call outs are regarding specific moments of wrongdoing that demonstrate systemic abuse, such as colonial dominance, rape culture, white supremacy, etc.
- Personal attacks are not call outs, but that does not mean that a call out is not personal. The pain of marginalized people is always valid.
- A call out is a gift, not a punishment, because it allows the person who has made a mistake the opportunity to learn and improve their understanding and behavior.
- Calls outs usually come after many efforts have been made, behind the scenes, to improve the circumstances through call ins, and those efforts have failed due to systemic oppression.
What is the difference between a call in and a call out?
Call ins are a valid method of conflict resolution and can work well when the person who has caused harm genuinely wishes to improve. A call in is a private conversation between two or more people, where the people doing the call in tell the person being called in how they can improve and prevent further mistakes. This can be in person, via email, private message, or phone call.
However — and this is an important point — FTP also recognizes the historic pattern of call ins being used to silence survivors and allow perpetrators to continue their wrongdoing. Call ins, systemically, rarely work if the person harmed is a woman, a queer or trans person, a person of color, or an Indigenous person. There is also a risk of call ins leading to more targeting and retaliation towards such marginalized people. This is why, although call ins sometimes work between cis males and people who are sincerely trying to improve, FTP does not focus on call ins as our only method of conflict resolution but as a tactic that we can employ if we feel that it will work with a particular individual. If we do employ this tactic then we will document the call in and provide additional support to the people with marginalized identities to create more safety and support for them.