If you’re receiving this, we’re hoping you might be interested in educating, organizing, and mobilizing fellow white people to understand and challenge white supremacy. Keep reading!
After the election, myself and a group of students started organizing under the umbrella of SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice) because we were angry, scared, and ready to find a way to act. To sum up what SURJ does in a nutshell, they focus on community organizing, mobilizing and education amongst white activists around issues of racial justice, while maintaining accountability to POC voices and POC community needs. Their work incorporates racial and class analysis, works along principles of community accountability and cross-racial organizing, and basically puts the burden on white people to organize other white people to change. It's good work and draws in a lot of issues -- racial and economic justice, mass incarceration, police brutality, and others -- but there's flexibility to shape the issue agenda at the local chapter (where we come in!)
An important caveat to note is that by design, SURJ is a space to mobilize white activists to educate, organize, and mobilize other white people. That’s *not* to say that SURJ is a space for white guilt, exclusion, or complacency. The premise of organizing white people as secondary leaders in the fight for racial justice, rather than placing ourselves on the front lines, comes from questions of taking up too much space. Whiteness is always present and even while working to dismantle white supremacy, our best intentions can cause harm and take up too much space in other activist spaces. As people of color face institutionalized racism and state violence, SURJ’s work attempts to relieve the “double burden” of having to educate white people about how to be better. In terms of education, it's seeking to provide a space that white folks can process and challenge white supremacy in a space that doesn't inflict more damage upon people of color, and in terms of organizing, it's asserting that racism is our legacy -- and therefore our responsibility to address within white communities. (These ideas are articulated in words much better than my own on the SURJ website's accountability platform)
We’ve spent a long time in the planning phase, and we’re excited to finally move forward toward concrete goals as a chapter in Northfield. We’re getting connected to local partners, gaining a better sense for where our time and efforts would be most useful in the greater Northfield community, preparing for canvassing training, and gearing up to start “living room conversation” and education sessions. If this is something you feel passionate about supporting, join us! Our first event is this Friday at 3:30 in a Weitz 235. We’ll be phonebanking (scripts and numbers provided), brainstorming direct actions ideas, getting to know each other, and eating some tamales. We'll also be having an open meeting this Sunday at 3:15 at the meeting room in the Northfield Library if you can't make it Friday but are interested in getting involved. If you’re interested in getting involved past this Friday, please shoot Josie (email@example.com), Gus (firstname.lastname@example.org), or Sarah (email@example.com) a note and we’ll put you on the listserv. If you’ve got further questions, don’t hesitate to ask: we all learn more from talking these things through.