End of year letter from Carla Wallace of Showing Up for Racial Justice about What Whitey can do!
This has been a year of heartbreak and resistance as the Movement for Black Lives shone light on struggles for racial justice. SURJ has responded to their call to break white silence in ways we never thought possible. So many of you have been with us as we’ve grown, in just 12 months, from 12 local groups to over 140 local and regional configurations across the country and supported hundreds of new leaders to show up in their communities. We hope you are proud of all we’ve accomplished together as we dig in for the long haul. As 2015 comes to a close, please join me in making a year-end tax-deductible donation and become a SURJ member today. Every dollar raised in the last few days of the year is being matched by a generous SURJ donor.
As I travel around the country to work with white people, grappling both collectively and individually with issues of privilege and oppression, I find one question coming up over and over: What can I do? Meeting people where they are, and deepening our connection with our mutual interest in racial justice, helps create the conditions in which more and more white people can be part of a powerful, people of color-led struggle for transformative change.
There are many white people aching to DO something, something that feels tangible. Thanks to SURJ, we can connect and mobilize these folks hungering to be a part of a movement, and do so in ways that are both effective and accountable.
And when a little extra inspiration is needed, I read the words of Black racial justice leaders speaking to the question, “What can white people do?”. From an article by Sally Kohn in the Washington Post. They speak for themselves…
“It must go beyond saying #BlackLivesMatter. I want white people to do the work of pushing Democratic darlings to take more seriously the impact of structural racism…Beyond saying #BlackLivesMatter. I want to hear more about what each of them will do to ensure a world where #BlackLivesMatter-and that means weighing in for an end to deportations and citizenship for all, fighting to end mass incarceration, ensuring that domestic workers have full rights in and outside of the workplace and on and on”
“Organize yourselves. White liberals and progressives have a responsibility to organize their communities for social justice using an explicitly anti-black racism frame. There is no need to hide behind black or people of color organizations. Commit yourself to organizing poor and working class white folks. We are capable of organizing our communities. Our children need everyday white folks to work harder to ensure that black women don’t have to worry about dying after failing to signal properly, walking while transgender or trying to protect their children.”
“Allies are best as accomplices. Be complicit in dismantling racist structures by taking risks, putting your bodies on the line in the streets, sharing access to resources (and releasing agency over them), living in some discomfort with difficult conversations in collaboration, knowing when to listen and organizing other white folks.
These are the voices we’re listening to, this is the call we are heeding and the work we are doing. If you’re as inspired as I am, make a donation and become a member today. SURJ is depending on all of us to chip in what we can, and answer this historic call together.
And please remember, when you donate to SURJ, we ask that you match your donation to a Black-led racial justice organization. If you need a suggestion, check out our list of Black-led racial justice organizations here. Let’s make sure a well-resourced SURJ means more resources for these key organizations and the movements they represent.
Carla F Wallace
Community Organizer, Louisville, Kentucky
PS. Want a good looking pdf of these quotes and more to share with your school, community group, chapter, on social media or with family and friends? Donate today using this link and receive the pdf in your thank you email.
1. Quotes compiled by Sally Kohn for her article “This is what white people can do to support #BlackLivesMatter”, 8/6/15. https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/08/06/this-is-what-white-people-can-do-to-support-blacklivesmatter/
Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ)