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 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.
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.
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.
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.