In recent years, the leadership of and action by the Movement for Black Lives, Lantinx communities, Indigenous communities, and other movement groups led by people of color have politicized millions of people around race. Many of those who are white have found SURJ as a home from which to act and as a result, we have grown exponentially over the last two years.
This week brought welcome news in the ongoing struggle against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) as the federal government acknowledged that the the permitting process failed to meet the Standing Rock Sioux’s rights. The acknowledgement came after months of brave direct action and as public pressure built. However, the fight is far from over.
Our network has developed a series of call, trainings, and discussions to deepen our skills, political analysis and relationships with one another. You can find the complete listing of calls here! The list includes, titles, facilitators, registration links and links to Facebook events. It will be updated as new calls are added to our fall line up. Please check back frequently!
This fall we're offering four tracks of training calls:
- Base building and Organizing: These are skill building calls where we will teach and practice organizing skills to help us run campaigns and expand our bases. These calls are great for chapter leaders and people in SURJ chapters and working groups.
- Political Education: These calls are designed to help us deepen our understanding of racism and white supremacy and teach others. The calls will review a short teaching module that can be incorporated into chapter meetings. These are good fits for people who are leading education efforts in their chapter, designing chapter meetings and individual people who want to learn more about the issue.
- Accountability: We are offering two different accountability series. The first is designed for folks new to building accountability relationships and will offer a framework about how SURJ thinks about accountability and tools for developing accountability relationships. The second is designed for folks who are looking to deepen their relationships and explore some of the tensions and mistakes that show up in the organizing work.
- Vision for Black Lives: These calls will explore the Vision for Black Lives. Calls will create space for both learning about the vision and developing political support in white communities for the Vision.
We look forward to learning and exploring with you this fall! Please register for the calls and share with others you are building with.
This week, Colin Kaepernick took bold action to protest police brutality of Black people.
When we hear people disagreeing with him or conflicted about his action, we should not stay silent, but rather move outside our comfort zone to engage in open conversation with folks about the racial justice issues he has raised. We've developed a conversation guide to support you.
In the heated moments of the last six months, we have witnessed both a chilling swell of support for Trumpism and the continuing rise of transformative leadership from people of color led movements such as the Standing Rock Resistance and the Movement for Black Lives. White folks around the country are becoming active and politicized to take bold action against white supremacy. These volatile moments often have us looking for easy answers, or a direction to point fingers so that we can be one of the “good guys.” One way this plays out is urban or city dwelling white folks putting blame on rural communities as the owners of racism in America.
Rural communities have long been abandoned by movements on the Left, academics, and liberal politicians. This has left rural communities without resources to navigate the painful impacts of economic downturn and extreme poverty. As the timber industry collapsed, coal mines and plants began to close, and manufacturing jobs left the US, rural and small town communities have largely had to fend for themselves. It has also allowed the Far Right, such as Patriot Militias, to build a base in these areas and prey on folks who are struggling to get by. Meanwhile, urban organizers have avoided taking accountability for their stake in ending systemic racism as cities gentrify, schools privatize, city jails fill up, and police budgets grow. Racism is alive and well in every square foot of America, and all white people have a part in ending it.
We also cannot forget that rural communities have been organizing for generations. Throughout the early 1900s Union members of the IWW held anti-racism trainings and pushed for policies that protected all workers, resisting both Jim Crow laws and the racism of larger unions like the AFL. Rural communities have anchored anti-Klan, White Nationalist, and Right Wing Militia resistance for decades. This work has been carried out with fewer resources, and many obstacles, yet it heavily influences organizing around the country. Our rural partners can teach us a great deal about how to call others in, work from mutual interest, build strong enduring relationships, look to the leadership of people across generations, mobilize in multiracial coalitions, and do the work when there isn’t a budget.
Falling into the blame game against rural communities actually helps our targets, because we focus on disparaging our rural neighbors instead of organizing to take on white supremacy. There may be some Trump supporters living in rural communities, but the political and corporate interests that have built power from the Trump campaign call major US cities their home. American racism has been fueled by economic violence against poor and working class people, particularly those in rural communities. Until we work together to address this intersection, we will not succeed. It is true that rural and urban organizers will use different tactics in our work, but we have to keep focused on shared targets. City folks must not turn on our rural partners.
We cannot undermine white supremacy and build the kind of world we all want to live in without a rural organizing strategy. Rural community leaders have shown bold leadership and critical perspective for the movement to end racism. It's long past time to pay attention.
Folks who live in cities can support rural organizers by:
Giving financially to rural organizing groups such as Rural Organizing Project
Listening to the leadership and wisdom of rural leaders, especially when it is different from your lived experience
Practice leaning into the values of mutual interest, calling-in and working class organizing
Call-in others who you see blaming rural white communities for racism
Holding teach-ins for your base on the history of rural resistance and on who the real beneficiaries of racism are..
- Do our own work organizing campaigns to undermine white supremacy in our communities.
By Zoë, Erin and Jeff
SURJ National #EndWhiteSilence: A Call To Action Against Police Murder Call Notes
The recording from the call is here.
Notetakers: Emily Pieper, Elise Dunham, Julia Daniels, Eleanor Hancock
Here are the actions we've been asked to do in the movement for black lives.
Five different actions-
1) Sign and share the MBL pledge: If you are online now and haven’t signed the pledge- sign and share
3) Putting out a call for actions across the country. Register your action here. There are going to be actions across the country next week. If there isn’t a black action that is happening, then organize a white led action.
Maurice Mitchell isn't able to join us on the call but in the agenda notes he wrote "Where there's black leadership, they should be supporting their work or doing complimentary actions. Where there's not, that not an excuse to not act. Do it anyhow. White people's silence and lack of action is why we are in this condition. "How can we take on moving into our stretch zone. How can we be public.
4) Join a SURJ chapter- across the country moving into action. Connect with these groups- over 100 on web, over 100 in formation. Form a group if there isn’t one! You don’t have to wait to take action. We will be supporting folks in formation, help keep the peace in the streets. Calm principled action.
5) If you are in an area where there isn’t a SURJ chapter will you commit to finding 3-5 friends and taking action in your area?
Apologies again that there were so many tech difficulties.Read more
SURJ Quick Guide to Planning Your Action
As we’ve heard from the Movement for Black Lives, #BlackLivesMatter chapters across the country, and our national accountability partners, the most important thing we can do right now is to show how outraged we are about anti-Black police brutality. Here’s a short list of steps you can take to plan an action at your local police station or Fraternal Order of Police office.Read more
Thousands of people have reached out over the past week to connect with SURJ and find ways to move into action against police violence and for racial justice. Below is a statement from SURJ’s leadership in light of the 136 murders of Black people by police this year and the shooting in Dallas last night.
SURJ condemns loss of life, no matter who is dead. As an organization committed to organizing white people to dismantle a criminal justice system brutalizing communities of color across the nation, SURJ condemns violence against the police and mourns the injuries and deaths of police officers killed in Dallas.Read more