Triangle SURJ will continue to struggle with important critiques and questions raised by organizers and Leaders of Color and white anti-racism activists about the role and work of white people and their accountability in the movement for racial justice. We deeply appreciate the time racial justice workers have taken to document what they’ve learned about accountability through practice over the years, just as we appreciate reminders and challenges today from organizers like Didi Delgado who recently wrote a blog post that was spread widely and sparked further conversations in SURJ chapters across the country.
Triangle SURJ is committed to undermining white support for white supremacy as part of a multi-racial movement. We are one place for white people to grow consciousness, participate in political education, and learn skills to work in solidarity with People of Color (POC). We practice anti-racist work in a way that seeks to avoid causing harm to POC-led organizing, and also amplifies and supports it by funneling white supporters towards POC-led multiracial work. We do not see ourselves as white people’s endpoint of participation in the struggle for racial justice, but rather as a conduit to skill-up and channel white people towards greater participation in efforts of People of Color-led organizations.
Accountability as a term and as a practice has meant different things to different groups in various regions and contexts. Here is the emerging accountability framework for the Triangle NC chapter. It is meant to transparently illustrate our approach and understanding of how we act as a part of the POC-led, multi-racial movement. TSURJ understands accountability as a mutual dynamic among People of Color and white people. We have witnessed tremendous solidarity in the streets in many brilliant, powerful People of Color-led actions in the past year and a half. Part of TSURJ’s role in that work is described in this 2016 annual report.
We respect the leadership of individuals who are most directly impacted. We strive to avoid assuming that we know the answers to the problem, or even the right questions to be asking. We acknowledge that it is an ongoing challenge for white people, no matter how long we have been doing this work, to recognize how we replicate and practice white supremacy – binary thinking, paternalism and patriarchy, racism, perfectionism, etc. – since we’ve been both conditioned by and practicing it our whole lives. A value of SURJ is to take risks, make mistakes, learn, and keep going. Difficult conversations about accountability, structure, and how we do this work are vital and necessary. At the same time, we acknowledge the push and pull tension between analysis and action. We must be willing to hear criticism, learn from it, adjust, and keep going.
While all white people benefit from white supremacy, not all white people are inherently untrustworthy or wholly damaging. It is important to be accountable to the principles of equity, liberation, and human dignity as well as to each other. One goal of accountability is to exercise power together in ways that move toward an end of racialized differences in power or position and toward meaningful and authentic racial equity. We commit to trying hard, learning, changing, growing, and bold action for racial justice. The lives of many People of Color literally depend on this happening across the country. Liberation for all of us depends on it.
Triangle Showing Up for Racial Justice Coordinating Council
Lydia Ahlum Hanson