SURJ Expands Its Team!

Last year, Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) made a commitment to centering and supporting the leadership and organizing of poor and working-class communities. Since then, we've taken steps to begin making good on that commitment. In the coming year, you will see us dedicating resources, time, and tools to support the crucial organizing work of poor and working-class folks across the SURJ network.
 
Today we are proud to announce another milestone in that journey - we've hired a full-time organizer to support, expand and deepen poor and working-class leadership at SURJ.
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Art for the Resistance

There's much that we don't know about what the resistance ahead will look like with Trump in office and a Cabinet full of racist, misogynist, transphobic, xenophobic millionaires and billionaires. What we do know is that art and artists have always paved a path forward for resistance, and we're thrilled to share some of the pieces created by Micah Bazant and Kate Deciccio in this moment.

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SURJ Hiring to Support Rural Organizing

SURJ Rural Organizer Job Posting 

Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) works to undermine white support for white supremacy as part of a multi-racial, cross-class movement for racial justice. SURJ has made a commitment to centering and supporting rural leadership and rural organizing. SURJ is seeking an organizer who can support this commitment by developing grassroots leadership, supporting strategic campaigns and helping to lead the process of infusing this commitment throughout the organization.

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SURJ's Theory of Change

In recent years, the leadership of and action by the Movement for Black Lives, Latinx 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.

We've spent the last several months struggling to get clearer on our role in the movement, our theory of change, and the strategies we're using now and hope to explore as we move forward.

We don't have all the answers, and we know we're not the only ones trying to figure them out. We know that we are going to make mistakes along the way, and we're confident our thinking will shift and grow over time by being in the work. We share our thinking below on our theory of change with a lot of humility and openness to feedback.
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Continue Resistance to the Dakota Pipeline

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. 

 

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SURJ Training Calls: Fall 2016

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. 

 


Break Silence About Kaepernick

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. 

Image version of the guide 

Text version of the guide

 


Let's Organize, Not Scapegoat

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


Notes from 7/12 SURJ End White Silence Call

SURJ National #EndWhiteSilence: A Call To Action Against Police Murder Call Notes
7/12/16

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

2) Give to support bail funds in cities where there have been actions and lead organizations in the Movement for Black Lives 

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.

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Planning Your Action

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.

Download the Kit

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