Questions From the Field: Why Should White Folks Organize White Folks for Racial Justice

1) History is full of moments when white people have been asked by leaders of color to take up this particular piece of work with other white people.  

Almost fifty years ago civil rights and black liberation movement leaders called on white people to go organize other white people.

Again, in the wake of the 2008 election of Obama when people of color and white racial justice activists called on white people to step up and we created SURJ.

In 2010, white people supported domestic workers who partnered with domestic employers to support the passage of the New York State Domestic Worker Bill of Rights.

Most recently, Ferguson’s Black youth called on white people to interrupt the narrative of white supremacy.

2)  POC are also asking for this so that they can claim the space to do the work they are called to, in organizing their own communities and not having this “burdened” by needing to organize the well-intentioned white people too.

3)  By being willing to be leaders in organizing other white people for racial justice, we set an example to other white people that we are taking on our responsibility.  

4)  The work is messy and there are things white people will say and do that is painful and burdensome to POC (and to us).  However, it is our responsibility to take that on, create spaces where this can happen, and create a supportive culture in which we help people grow, and recognize our mutual interest in ending racial injustice and white supremacy.

5)  White people need to set a visible, anti racist “pole” for other white people to gravitate to.

It is necessary to break the narrative of white supremacy in which a majority of white people continue, in our silence or in our active support of racism, to uphold white supremacy.

Developed by Carla Wallace and edited by members of the SURJ Leadership Team.

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