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Whitman Welcomes Power & Privilege Keynote Speaker Loretta J. Ross

By Casey Brown

Loretta J. Ross

Loretta J. Ross will call in both allies and accomplices during her keynote address on Tuesday, Feb. 21. The annual Power & Privilege Symposium examines structural inequality and social justice. The symposium begins with Ross’s address, continues on Feb. 22 with a hip-hop performance by Sounds of the People and ends with panel discussions for the campus community throughout the day on Feb. 23.

Ross is an activist, public intellectual, professor and MacArthur Fellow. She is Associate Professor of the Study of Women & Gender at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. Her TED Talk, “Don’t Call People Out—Call Them In,” has more than 2 million views.

Shifting a Culture 

Ross’s work has taken her from monitoring hate groups to speaking at the U.S. House of Representatives about abortion rights.

In the 1990s, Ross began to research hate groups, questioning how people could hate strangers. Her work has continued in the years since—including an ever-increasing list of books she’s written, appearances she made and awards she won.

Ross continues to fight for reproductive rights. She and several other women co-created the theory of reproductive justice, which mixes reproductive rights and social justice. Ross was also one of the people who coined the term “woman of color.”

The difference between a movement and a cult, she says in her Ted Talk, is how many ideas there are. Many people following one idea is a cult; many people with many ideas going in the same direction is a movement.

She speaks of pulling people in rather than pushing them out. It is one aspect of her work to shift what she refers to as calling out culture to calling in culture. Calling someone in gives them room to grow and replaces blaming and shaming with empathy. Calling out uses the tactic of shaming and blaming and invites them to a fight, as Ross put it. However, calling in invites people to a conversation.

To hear more about calling in and being part of shifting culture, the Whitman and Walla Walla community are invited to hear Ross speak in the Reid Ballroom on Tuesday, Feb. 21 at 6 p.m.

Due to limited seating, please RSVP in advance to reserve your spot. The event will not be livestreamed, but will be recorded and available to view after the event.

Published on Feb 15, 2023
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