SURJ Action is a 501(c)4 organization affiliated with Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ). Learn more about SURJ. SURJ Action has been formed to further our racial justice goals by responding strategically in this political moment as a 501(c)(4) organization.
SURJ Action is a national network of groups and individuals organizing white people for racial justice. Through community organizing, mobilizing, and education, SURJ Action 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 Action provides a space to build relationships, skills and political analysis to act for change. SURJ Action has been formed to further our racial justice goals by responding strategically in this political moment as a 501(c)(4) organization.
We envision a society where we struggle together with love, for justice, human dignity and a sustainable world.
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.
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 and Special Projects Director at the National Domestic Worker Alliance
1. CALLING PEOPLE IN, NOT CALLING PEOPLE OUT
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.
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
2. TAKE RISKS, MAKE MISTAKES, LEARN AND KEEP GOING
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.
Design by Alison Fornes
3. TAP INTO MUTUAL INTEREST
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.
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.
4. ACCOUNTABILITY THROUGH COLLECTIVE ACTION
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 its 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.
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
5. ENOUGH FOR EVERYONE
One of the things that dominant white culture teaches us is to feel isolation and scarcity in everything we do. SURJ Action 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.
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
6. GROWING IS GOOD
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.