About

Mission

Through community organizing, mobilizing and education, SURJ moves white people to act as part of a multi-racial majority for justice with passion and accountability. We know that to transform this country we must be part of building a powerful multi-racial majority to challenge racism in all its forms. We are taking responsibility as white people to act collectively and publicly to challenge the manipulation of racist fear by the ruling class and corporate elite.

Accountability

Accountability is a core value of SURJ. After launching in late 2015, TSURJ started the process by engaging in a listening campaign of one-on-one discussions with People of Color, multi-racial group meetings, and study of various accountability models in multiracial movements for racial justice and collective liberation. We worked to build and strengthen relationships, sharpen our political analysis, and work in solidarity with those most impacted by white supremacy.

Read more about TSURJ’s commitment to accountability here.

Leadership with People from Poor and Working Class Backgrounds

A key component of TSURJ’s campaign-based work is a strategic focus on organizing and base building in poor and working class white communities. Time and again, those in power have played upon a strategic combination of economic fears and racism to keep poor and working class white folks divided from People of Color. This has hurt all of us. Learn more about TSURJ’s class analysis and values here.

Recognizing that a powerful, multi-racial movement to end white supremacy cannot be achieved without the buy-in, participation, and leadership of many more poor and working class whites, TSURJ is developing a listening project aimed at better understanding the issues, concerns, and needs of these communities so that we can better organize and base-build within them.

A small cohort of TSURJ leaders, all coming from poor and working class backgrounds, has been working over the latter part of 2016 to build the relationships, capacity, skills and strategy necessary to launch this listening project. As white people with poor and working class lived experience, we know first-hand how racism operates and is perpetuated within our communities, the ways that our communities have suffered as a result, and how much we stand to gain in dismantling it.

Using economic justice and the minimum wage as an entry point to our conversations, we will engage in door-knocking, canvassing, and small-group story circles as a way to collect stories and information and to build relationships that we hope will provide a strong foundation for future campaigns for economic and racial justice. We will be focusing outreach on predominantly white groups, but any or all of the activities may be multiracial, especially those in which we’re partnering with multiracial initiatives already on the move.

If you are interested in hearing more about this project, sharing ideas, or getting involved, please contact us at tsurjpwccohort@gmail.com.

Current Work

The Program Team focuses on offering opportunities to learn more, go deeper, and grow skills in awareness, understanding, and resistance of racism and white supremacy through programs and events, such as workshops, “living room conversation” series, book studies, and film screenings.

In 2016 the Action Team launched the Fight the Right Campaign and mobilized white people to support local actions, including demonstrations, canvassing, and city council meetings in support of people of color-led initiatives.

Read TSURJ’s 2016 Annual Report here.

In 2017, Triangle SURJ aims to build on the successes of 2016, build internal capacity, and continue to show up where we are needed.

Join us!

 


National SURJ

** Taken from SURJ national website **

Mission

SURJ is a national network of groups and individuals organizing White people for racial justice. Through community organizing, mobilizing, and education, SURJ moves White people to act as part of a multi-racial majority for justice with passion and accountability. We work to connect people across the country while supporting and collaborating with local and national racial justice organizing efforts. SURJ provides a space to build relationships, skills and political analysis to act for change.

Vision

We envision a society where we struggle together with love, for justice, human dignity and a sustainable world.

Shared Values

1. Calling people in, not calling out

We need you defecting from White supremacy and changing the narrative of White supremacy by breaking White silence.

— Alicia Garza,
co-founder Black Lives Matter & Special Projects Director at the National Domestic Worker Alliance

Our focus is on working with White people who are already in motion. While in many activist circles, there can be a culture of shame and blame, we want to bring as many White people into taking action for racial justice as possible.

2. Taking risks, learning and keep going

The battle is and always has been a battle for the hearts and minds of White people in this country. The fight against racism is our issue. It’s not something that we’re called on to help People of Color with. We need to become involved with it as if our lives depended on it because really, in truth, they do. 

— Anne Braden

We know that we will have to take risks. Everyday, People of Color take risks in living their lives with full dignity and right now we are in a moment where young Black people are taking risks everyday. We challenge ourselves and other White people to take risks as well, to stand up against a racist system, actions and structures everyday. We know that in that process, we will make mistakes. Our goal is to learn from those mistakes and keep showing up again and again for what is right and for racial justice.

3. Tap into mutual interest 

The battle is and always has been a battle for the hearts and minds of White people in this country. The fight against racism is our issue. It’s not something that we’re called on to help People of Color with. We need to become involved with it as if our lives depended on it because really, in truth, they do.

— Anne Braden

We use the term mutual interest to help us move from the idea of helping others, or just thinking about what is good for us, to understanding that our own liberation as white people, our own humanity, is inextricably linked to racial justice. Mutual interest means we cannot overcome the challenges we face unless we work for racial justice.  It means our own freedom is bound up in the freedom of people of color.  For Anne & Carl Braden, it was mutual interest that caused them to de-segregate an all-white neighborhood in Louisville Kentucky in 1954.  It was a belief in what was right and the idea of showing up again and again for justice.

4. Accountability through collective action

It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.

— Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

There can be an impulse for White people to try to get it right- to have the right analysis, language, friends, etc. What SURJ was called upon to do at our founding in 2009 was to take action- to show up when there are racist attacks, when the police attack and murder People of Color in the street, their homes, our communities, in challenging structural racism, immigrant oppression and indigenous struggles. We maintain ongoing relationships, individually and organizationally with leaders and organizations led by People of Color. We also know it is our work to organize other White people and we are committed to moving more White people for collective action. We can’t re-build the world we want alone- we must build powerful, loving movements of millions taking action for racial justice.

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5. Enough for Everyone

One more thing. You may not get the validation you hunger for. Stepping outside of the smoke and mirrors of racial privilege is hard, but so is living within the electrified fences of racial oppression – and no one gets cookies for that. The thing is that when you help put out a fire the people whose home was in flames may be too upset to thank and praise you – especially when you look a lot like the folks who set the fire. That’s OK. This is about something so much bigger than that.

There are things in life we don’t get to do right. But we do get to do them. 

— Ricardo Levins Morales

One of the things that dominant white culture teaches us is to feel isolation and scarcity in everything we do.  SURJ believes that there is enough for all of us,  but it is unequally distributed and structurally contained to keep resources scarce. We can fight the idea and the structures that limit and control global capital by creating a different world together. We believe that part of our role as white people is to raise resources to support people of color-led efforts AND to engage more white people in racial justice.  Together we can make the world we want and need.

6. Growing is Good

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world.

There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

— Marianne Williamson

Sometimes we get afraid that if we bring in new people who do not talk our talk or “do it right” it will mess up what we are building.  However, if we do not bring in new people, our work cannot grow.  And if our work does not grow, we cannot bring the numbers of white people needed to undermine white supremacy and join People of Color led efforts for fundamental change. Longtime white southern civil rights activist Anne Braden once said that we have to stop believing that we are the only special ones who can be part of the work for racial justice.  We must grow our groups and our movement, understanding that welcoming people in, even at the risk of it being messy, is deeply part of what we are being called to do.

7. Center Class

Our culture, media, and even sometimes movement leaders blame poor and working-class white people for racism, often without recognizing that middle- and owning-class white people disproportionately support policies and practices that uphold white supremacy. We reject the harmful stereotypes and the analysis that poor and working-class white people are responsible for racism. The people who benefit most from racism and white supremacy are the very wealthy — not poor or working-class white people.

Poor and working-class people of color and white people have been at the front lines of anti-racist struggle for generations. SURJ is committed to supporting the leadership of and organizing in poor and working-class communities. We need people of all class backgrounds in this work.

Why We Organize

We live in a time of great hope and possibility, yet the potential for a just world for all of us is not possible when racism and oppression keep us divided. This can make us forget how closely connected we truly are. Racism is still present throughout all of our contemporary institutions and structures. Racism is devastating to People of Color and is closely intertwined with all systems of oppression. It robs all of us- White people and People of Color- of our humanity. We honor and learn from the long history of People of Color and White people who have been unrelenting in their struggles for racial justice, and ending all systems of oppression. We are showing up to take our responsibility as White people to act collectively and publicly to challenge the manipulation of racist fear by the ruling class and corporate elite. We know that to transform this country we must be part of building a powerful multi-racial majority to challenge racism in all its forms.