April 23, 2020
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Release: Jan. 15, 2020
GAMBIER, Ohio — Kenyon College’s annual celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy on Monday, Jan. 20, will feature a keynote address by Loretta Ross, a nationally recognized women’s rights and human rights leader. Events begin at 3 p.m. in Rosse Hall, 105 College Drive, and are free and open to the public.
Ross is an expert on women’s issues, racism and human rights. Her work emphasizes the intersectionality of social justice issues and how this transforms social change. Ross’ address at Kenyon is titled “Calling In Vs. Calling Out Will Build the Human Rights Movement.” In it, she will discuss “calling out” and “cancel culture,” or the public shaming of those with insensitive or unpopular opinions, and suggest productive ways to engage in social justice work, such as “calling in” and fostering dialogue.
“Call-outs make people fearful of being targeted. People avoid meaningful conversations when hypervigilant perfectionists point out apparent mistakes, feeding the cannibalistic maw of the cancel culture,” Ross wrote in an August 2019 New York Times op-ed. “Calling-in engages in debates with words and actions of healing and restoration, and without the self-indulgence of drama. And we can make productive choices about the terms of the debate: Conflicts about coalition-building, supporting candidates or policies are a routine and desirable feature of a pluralistic democracy.”
“Loretta Ross’ remarks will be of great interest to Kenyon. She is one of the important voices asking us what comes next, after calling someone or something out,” said Professor of English Ted Mason, associate provost for diversity, equity and inclusion and senior advisor to the president. “In the spirit of a day on which we especially remember Dr. King’s legacy, Loretta Ross reminds us that forging community should be our goal, something better achieved by calling in.”
Ross was a co-founder and the national coordinator, from 2005 to 2012, of the SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, a network of women of color and allied organizations that organize women in the reproductive justice movement. She has written and spoken extensively on the history of African American women and reproductive justice activism. Ross is a graduate of Agnes Scott College and holds honorary doctorates from Arcadia University and Smith College. She is pursuing a doctorate in women’s studies at Emory University.
In addition to Ross’ keynote address, Kenyon’s “Day of Dialogue” program also includes remarks by Kenyon President Sean Decatur and performances by Kenyon’s Chamber Singers. Moderated breakout sessions after the keynote address provide participants with the opportunity to discuss topics including solidarity in social justice movements, allyship and its challenges, and the necessity of human charity.