It's from a Tweet:

One person named Eugene Gu said:

I'm an Asian-American doctor and today I #TakeTheKnee to fight white supremacy.

And a man named Thomas Stratton replied:

Dr. Gu, I'll never take call for you. But I will #TakeTheKnee with you to fight white supremacy because I know #WhiteSilenceIsWhiteViolence

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  • 1
    It's a typo (mistake) and makes no sense. I'm struggling to work out what it should be. Jun 15, 2020 at 13:36
  • 3
    This does not appear to be a typo, based on a quick web search. It appears to be medical lingo related to being "on call". Not in medicine myself, so I'm not sure the exact meaning.
    – Dan Getz
    Jun 15, 2020 at 14:51
  • 1
    It's "unnatural" phrasing riffing off recently high-profile non-grammatical take the knee. There's nothing to learn about English grammar here - just "Twitterspeak". Jun 15, 2020 at 16:03
  • @FumbleFingersReinstateMonica "riffing" off? Jun 16, 2020 at 3:56
  • 1

1 Answer 1


Call here is common jargon in U.S. medicine, and perhaps elsewhere, referring to the duty to be available on short notice outside of regular working hours as part of one's employment. This is the same sense of call as in call schedule and call roster

It is taken from the expression on-call (OALD):

[only before noun] (especially North American English)
(of a doctor, police officer, etc.) available for work if necessary, especially in an emergency

In turn, this derives from call in the sense of a request or demand made of someone.

You can think of call as a type of shift, somewhat analogous to duty or watch in the military, though the nature of it differs somewhat by role, specialty, and experience. For example, for a new doctor in training (known as a resident in the American system), call entails being at the hospital for 28 hours at a time, filling in for other doctors or assisting with surges in demand. At the next level (attending), you do not need to be present at the hospital while on call, but you can never be far from either the hospital or from a telephone as you might be asked to come in on short notice. As you can imagine, call is very unpopular.

The tweet is a play on words. The replier says to Dr. Gu that although he would never take Gu's call duty—that being too undesirable—he will happily take a knee (genuflect) with him.

  • Maybe the Twitterer, Thomas Stratton, is just stating a fact: he is not a doctor and could never be "on call" but there's one thing he can do, and that is share "taking the knee" with Dr. Gu. If TS is also a medic, you cannot tell by reading the Tweet.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 24, 2020 at 21:20
  • @Mari-LouA Good point; it isn't necessary for the respondent to be a doctor, since the reference is facetious to begin with. It's like me saying I won't be donating any of my millions to the Trump campaign—I don't have any millions to begin with.
    – choster
    Jun 24, 2020 at 22:02

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