I attended my first SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice) meeting the other night. It was in a church that was completely packed by upwards of 400 people; almost all white folks, since SURJ’s mission is to engage white people in social justice activism. Although I had previously experienced some disturbing behavior from SURJ folks in the past, I had been told that local chapters are run independently, so I thought this would be the time to check them out.
I must say, I was pleasantly surprised by the experience! One of the first slides on their PowerPoint presentation was about giving money to POC (People of Color) – led organizations. They got that right. This is a great way to disrupt deeply-held racism that the U.S. was founded on.
The speakers went on to share their own personal best practices in challenging the racist system we live in. Much of it focused on starting conversations with those in our circles of influence (friends, family, co-workers, etc.) about how they might challenge privilege in their own lives. Including asking everyone we know to support POC-led organizations. What about asking for such a donation for the upcoming holidays as a gift? What about giving such gifts? And if you’re not sure where to donate, check out: www.theprivilegeinstitute.com, which is a POC-led organization.
The fact that the church was literally overflowing last night tells me that we are on the verge of something huge here. If we think about history repeating itself, which it inevitably does, we have a choice: we can either consider that we are in pre-WWII Germany where hatred and bigotry were not only normalized but encouraged under a white nationalist regime. Or we could be in the U.S. 1960’s where when faced with discrimination and oppression, U.S.ers from all races, ethnicities, faiths, sexual orientations, genders, abilities, and ages, rose up to disrupt the status quo.
So I ask you: How do you want this to end? In which direction do you want this country to go? It is our country, after all. It is our time to challenge hatred and bigotry in ALL its forms. It is a privilege to be disengaged right now. I implore you not to abuse that privilege. This is NOT a drill! It will take ALL of us to stand up to disrupt the establishment. NOW is our time!