About

Triangle SURJ is a chapter of Showing Up for Racial Justice, a national network of chapters and individuals working to undermine white supremacy and to work toward racial justice. Through community organizing, mobilizing, and education, SURJ moves white people to act as part of a multiracial majority for justice with passion and accountability.  Visit national’s website to learn about SURJ’s approach and theory of change. 

Triangle SURJ launched in December 2015 and has since worked to foster relationships and encourage meaningful involvement in movement work across the Triangle. Through social media, e-blasts, and occasional events, we promote 1) upcoming events and actions led by trusted local organizations/groups, 2) calls to move money to support anti-racist organizing, and 3) resources for learning more about race, anti-racist work, and movement building.

TSURJ is not a membership organization – we are a hub for building relationships and supporting anti-racist organizing in the Triangle. We encourage you to become a member of the numerous member-based organizations across the Triangle!

Accountability

Accountability is a core value of SURJ. After launching in late 2015, TSURJ engaged in a listening campaign of one-on-one discussions with people of color, held multiracial group meetings, and studied various accountability models. Currently, TSURJ has several accountability partners who inform our work and political analysis.


SURJ 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

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.

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.