10 steps to take if someone calls you out on something you said or did

Follow these simple steps when someone calls you out.

You’re a caring and decent person. But someone just called you out on something you did or said. As a decent human being, you don’t think you routinely do things that are damaging or hurtful, and for that reason your first reaction might be to get defensive and defend yourself. But like all people, your actions can sometimes have unintended effects on others. We might not know how damaging our actions can actually be. So in order to come out of the experience a better person, follow these simple steps when someone calls you out.

1. Listen. It’s amazing how much you don’t actually hear of what someone’s telling you when you’re preparing your come-back or defense. If in an online interaction, read the person’s response carefully. Two or three times if need be.

2. Take a second, take a breath. Don’t act defensive and respond right away. It’s okay to feel defensive, but don’t allow yourself to act on that defensiveness. If in a real-life situation, briefly draw your attention to your breath and then use that same attention to listen to what the other person has to say. If you find yourself devising come-backs, just acknowledge the thoughts and draw your attention back to the person.

3. Think about what you said or did and how it might be perceived. Did you misspeak? Were you misunderstood?

4. Think of the impact what you said or did could have on others. Do certain words you used carry baggage? Are they associated with the experiences of others, particularly groups that have been the object of oppression?

5. Think of the words the person used to call you out. Are there key terms or phrases that you can learn more about? Google them to see what others are saying about the subject. Take some time to educate yourself about the other person’s perspective from what’s available publicly. This works best when you’re called out online. If called out in person, remember those phrases and look than up later.

6. Ask for clarification or explanation. See if there is more to it that the person wants to share with you. Don’t expect them to, though, and don’t hold that against them. It takes a lot of courage and energy to speak up, especially if you’re part of the group that is targeted by someone’s damaging words or actions. Understand that and respect if the person chooses to disengage with you. If you notice yourself feeling like you deserve an explanation, just acknowledge those feelings and make space for them, but don’t act on them.

7. Consider your own defensiveness. Is it coming from a place of defending your ego? Is it a force of habit? What do you have to lose by considering the other person’s perspective and/or conceding your own position and apologizing? What do you have to gain by doing so? A better relationship with the person? A better understanding of the experiences of people different from you? A better handle on your ego or impulsiveness?

8. Respond how you see fit, but always with the care, respect, and courtesy that you would show toward an equal. Regardless of how rough or disrespectful the person might have been to you. Sometimes when you or the group you belong to is the constant target of damaging language or acts, you get angry and build up rage. That can come out as an attack or disrespectful language when calling out someone who employs damaging language or acts. It is also possible that you have a different idea of respect: what you consider disrespectful the other person does not see as such.

If the interaction is an online one, why not using your time looking up some of the key terms or phrases from step 5 instead of responding?

9. When appropriate, disengage from the interaction in a way that leaves you open to more dialogue in the future. Consider this farewell: “Thank you for sharing with me your perspective. I will reflect on it and continue learning and growing. Hasta luego!” vs this one: “Let’s agree to disagree.”

10. Continue being open and learning from the plethora of experiences and people around you.


How-To: Find Out If Someone Has Voted (Hidalgo County)

This tutorial is mean to help organizers who are making sure their members and supporters who have committed to vote actually do so. This is also meant to help those who have a system like Catalist or VAN that takes forever to update and is incomplete when it does update.

All screen shots expand when clicked.

Step 1

Check if Voted Step (1)Go to Hidalgo County Elections Department’s website. Click on Early Voting Rosters. This also works for Election Day rosters once they are posted.

Step 2

Check if Voted Step (2)Right click and download the cumulative in-person roster. Each day this file is updated by the county with the previous day’s voters.

Step 3 Continue reading

My unfinished October 11 tale

Dani Marr

“Traditional marriage is an institution whose integrity and vitality are critical to the health of any society. We should remain faithful to our moral heritage and never hesitate to defend it.”
– Sen. Ted Cruz (whose newsletters I’m mysteriously subscribed to)

This will not be the best thing I have written.

I have been debating all month on whether to post something on the celebration that is happening tomorrow. I mean, everyone knows already, right? There are no more secrets to tell. It has been three years. I am out and about, living freely, sliding down rainbows and landing on pots of gold.

Except I’m not.

I am currently sitting at a coffee shop in Manhattan. I arrived just about an hour ago from Boston to attend an event. I am meeting up with “my NYU friend,” as I poorly describe her to everyone, later tonight for some hookah. She is…

View original post 1,054 more words

#BorderSurgeSelfie Project

Lots of people support sending more border enforcement to our communities because they don’t know what the border is really like and believe whatever politicians in Austin and the media tell them.

This project is meant to show our fellow Texans outside the valley and other border regions what sending troops and patrols really means to border communities.

How to participate:


DPS troopers are all over west Hidalgo County in areas where lots of immigrants live and work #BorderSurgeSelfie

1. Take a selfie with any representation of border militarization/surveillance/patrols you feel is directed at border communities, threatens your rights or liberties, or disturbs the peace of our area. That could be all the DPS troopers patrolling our communities, national guard posts, border patrol surveillance equipment, etc. Great pics could have any DPS vehicle in background (lots would show the sheer number of them down here), a hotel parking lot full of DPS or border patrol vehicle, any military-looking equipment, like automatic weapons or armored vehicles. Make sure not to get too close to border patrol since they could try to confiscate your camera (probably illegally if you’re not interfering with their duties, but better to avoid the situation).

2. Post it on social media with the hashtag #BorderSurgeSelfie and a short message saying how it feels to be watched/patrolled/have military presence in our communities.

3. If you have space, tag @jmtorr on Twitter so I can find your posts easily!

I will compile all the pics I find and put them on the blog at sonaorillasdelrio.wordpress.com

Help advocate for refugee families, no matter where you’re from

I’ve been getting asked how people outside of the Valley can help the refugee crisis. Besides making monetary donations, there are a number of other ways you can help where you’re from.

Connect with legal aid and immigrant rights groups in your area

The refugee families released from Border Patrol custody with their notices to appear are only passing through the Valley to unite with family members throughout the US. As Salvadorans are now the third largest Latino minority group in the U.S., and migration from these nations has been constant since the late 80s, there is a chance that some of them will be heading to your area of the country. Besides showing general support for them and their efforts to escape violence and grinding poverty, you can try volunteering with the organizations in your area who are probably taking on extra work in light of this crisis.

Many states have a network of legal aid service providers. Also check out the Catholic Legal Immigration Network to find an immigration legal office in your area. Many states also have an immigrant rights network. If there is no network in your area, join one of the campaigns here.

Call your congressional representative

It will take all of us if the rights of refugees are protected.

It will take all of us if the rights of refugees are protected.

In terms of advocacy, the congressional reps from your area probably need to get more calls and actions supporting protecting refugees, not sending them to their deportation (and likely their death). Chances are they are getting more calls from people fearful of a lawless border with terrorists pouring across than from people concerned with the welfare of these children.

Find out who represents you in congress and get contact information on this nifty map.

Educate people around you

Along that vein, you can help educate the general public in your area about the reality of the situation. There is a lot of disinformation being perpetuated by right wingers supporting border militarization and expediting the deportations of these kids. Arm yourself with knowledge from the US Committee on Refugees and ImmigrantsCommittee in Solidarity With the People of El Salvador (on Facebook here) and La Union del Pueblo Entero. Then write a letter to the editor of you local newspaper, call your TV news outlet, and comment on the publications of your congressional representative’s Facebook page.

Learn about the root causes of the crisis

This crisis is not going to go away unless we address the root causes in the countries that these children and families are fleeing: stark economic inequality, US-backed neoliberal economic policy and US foreign military aid. There are a number of good articles online, including this analysis of Neoliberalism in El Salvador (opens a PDF). We need a wider sector of the public to be familiar with the broad strokes of these root cases if we are going to move forward and not just repeat past mistakes.

If you want to donate toward helping the refugee families, check out www.SouthTexasRefugees.org

New website aims to be central information hub for refugee crisis response

Local organizations have created a new site to help connect you with the different volunteer opportunities and donation needs of the refugee families arriving to the Rio Grande Valley.

The website, located at www.southtexasrefugees.org, was developed by McAllen’s Calvary Baptist Church and is sponsored by Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, The City of McAllen, United Way of South Texas, Salvation Army McAllen, Food Bank of the Rio Grande Valley and others.

So next time someone asks you how they can help, you can easily share this site with them!