SURJ Families: Who We Are
How we got started: In August 2015, SURJ leaders from around the country gathered to build work groups and a regional resource structure to help us reach 7 million White people needed to make sustainable change. A few leaders took this time to focus on building what SURJ Families would look like as we begin to focus on calling in white families, caregivers, and elders, striving to build a movement that reflects the full picture of humanity’s ages and stages.
Mission and Purpose: SURJ Families is a working group within SURJ, a national network of groups and individuals organizing white people for racial justice that grew out of a need to create space to engage families, caregivers and elders into our work for racial justice. As a team, we focus on organizing multi-generational spaces that are inclusive and accommodating for people of all ages, from kids to elders. We believe there is power in parents, caregivers and our youth showing up to break white silence as we strive to create a just and inclusive society for our future generations. The purpose of SURJ Families is to help SURJ chapters and affiliates to move towards multi-generational spaces and actions to help broaden our membership. We are available to help coach groups, develop toolkits and action kits that are focused on multi-generational spaces, uplift resources that are geared towards families and caregivers, and help find space in the already flowing movement for Black Lives Matter for families and caregivers.
SURJ Families aligns with the SURJ core values.
- Tap into mutual interest.
- Calling people in, not calling people out
- Accountability through collective action
- Taking risks, learning and keeping going
- Enough for everyone
- Growing is good
Tips and tricks for creating multigenerational spaces within your SURJ Chapter or affiliate group:
Why is this important and helpful?
Multigenerational spaces are a key component to the sustainability of movement change. When children and youth are engaged in the building and learning of movement spaces for racial justice they become part of the building of what the future looks like for themselves, and this can help to keep them engaged as that future plays out. It's also so much more fun for everyone, and more effective to the overall picture, too. Talking with children in the room makes us simplify our words and ideas and ground us in our basic values. Talking with our elders makes us wiser and connects us to the history we are building upon. We learn with our children and from our elders, even when those children and elders don't technically belong to us! One of the most important things to remember about multigenerational spaces is that we are educating a future generation about how movements work. You are showing them the good moments and the tense moments of movement building so they can gain an understanding of how to continue this work when they are older to build sustainable change.
SURJ Families Guide to Fostering Multi-Generationally Inclusive Movement Spaces
Other resources for Fostering multigenerational spaces:
- 7 Ways to Create Family-Friendly Movement Spaces
- Towards a Multi-Generational Ideal
- If There Aren’t Babies and Grandmas It’s Not My Revolution
- Don't Leave Your Friends Behind: Concrete Ways to Support Families in Social Justice Movements and Communities
Moving into Action and creating safe multi-generational action spaces:
One of SURJ’s core values is accountability through action. As families, caregivers and elders we face a few extra hurdles to overcome in order to physically be able to show in meaningful ways. It is also important that we respect the space of people of color organizers and understand it is not their place to make space for white families to show up at actions. but rather, it is part of our collective role as SURJ Families to find ways to open up space for white families to move into action with our children, youth and elders in order to educate through modeling activism in our lives.
Sometimes life’s limitations can keep us from being able to attend a rally, protest, march or direct action and that is ok! That doesn't mean we can't contribute to the action from afar! There are plenty of ways we can plug in from home and some tricks to creating space at those rallies and marches. A few things to keep in mind as you build these spaces is that it is important to always engage the children and youth in why we are moving into action, don’t just use them as bodies or props, help them to learn the what and the why of racial justice. When possible make these spaces fun, incorporate art and activities that can help educate and make this a place families, caregivers and elders want to be. Below are 3 documents that help outline ways you can plug families, caregivers and elders into different areas of action based on their individual needs. You should be creating an atmosphere of meeting people where they are at in life and helping to make action possible for everyone.
We want to hear about the actions and meeting spaces you create for SURJ Families in your local work. Please join our Showing Up For Racial Justice (SURJ) Families Facebook group and e-mail us your stories at SURJFamilies@gmail.com. We are also available for support and coaching if you have any questions, comments or concerns please reach out.
Thank you to all who contributed resources to this toolkit. In particular Coleen Murphy, Zoë Williams, Julie Roberts-Phung and Rebecca Frederick. Photo credit Amy Rock.