About SURJ-TC

SURJ-Twin Cities is a Minnesota chapter of Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ). SURJ is a national network of groups and individuals organizing white people for racial justice. White people have been told for years by Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) activists that we need to educate and organize our own people. So that’s what we try to do at SURJ-TC.

Our structure

The SURJ-TC is an organization made up of a core team and members. Our core team is responsible for choosing campaigns, interacting with accountability partners, and making strategic decisions for the organization. Our members take on projects that support our campaigns and advance our mission, vision, and values.

Our mission

SURJ-TC organizes white people to build the political will needed to end white supremacy. We do this through political education, direct action, self reflection, and community-building, and by following the example and leadership of BIPOC partners.

Our structure

The SURJ-TC is an organization made up of a core team and members. Our core team is responsible for choosing campaigns, interacting with accountability partners, and making strategic decisions for the organization. Our members take on projects that support our campaigns and advance our mission, vision, and values.

We are a leaderful organization—which means everyone involved with SURJ-TC can take on leadership in some way. We are committed to leadership development and shared decision-making throughout the organization.

SURJ-TC organizes white people to build the political will needed to end white supremacy.

How does white supremacy hurt white people? 

White supremacy breeds violence, fear, and disconnection. It teaches white people to cling to control of other people, and, for those who have access, to hoard money, property, and resources. It teaches us to conquer, exploit, and extract, but little about connection, balance, or how to leave alone what is not ours.

What needs to change?

We cannot go on this way. White supremacy will only end when white people:

  1. Realize, collectively, that we have more to gain from a future of justice, human dignity, and balance with the earth than we have to lose in giving up our domination of Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) communities.
  2. Take bold, collective action, guided by BIPOC communities, to dismantle white supremacy and build new ways of living together on this earth.
  3. Get more white people engaged

What does SURJ-TC do? 

SURJ-TC aims to move white people from A to B to C, around the circle. We work to help white people find ways to take meaningful action toward ending white supremacy, and to give white people tools to be effective and accountable in multi-racial movements. We don’t have all the answers. We don’t know what the exact recipe is to get us there, but we believe—thanks to many other movement groups and strategies of the past and present—that the ingredients must include:

  • Political education and skills training, to help white people organize other white people around anti-racist work
  • Support and encouragement of one another to take bold, creative direct action guided by BIPOC communities, and to take risks when needed
  • Guiding white people in ongoing self-reflection and healing of the inner wounds of white supremacy, so we can be an effective part of multi-racial movements 
  • Creating spaces where white people can connect and build community with other anti-racist white people, to build support and resilience when shame and fear inevitably surface 

When will we succeed? 

We are here to help white people stretch our imaginations about what we think the world is, and what it can be. We want to discover the tools white people need to find our own own path and commitments in this work. We will know we are succeeding when we see fundamental changes in the actions and values of white people and the culture of whiteness:

  • We will see white people who take ever-bolder action in the streets, in governmental bodies, in schools, and in our workplaces, to dismantle white supremacy.
  • We will see white people who work with humility and without ego, because we know the binary of “good” and “bad,” “racist” and “not racist” is a lie of white supremacy that lets white people center our own comfort and internalized superiority
  • We will see white people who actively and willingly give up power, redistribute resources, and share wealth, because we understand that there is enough for everyone in this world. 
  • We will see white people who are resilient when we are called out or make mistakes, instead of getting stuck in shame or guilt.
  • We will see white people who understand that white supremacy is a poison to all of us, and that we come to this work not out of pity or guilt, but because we must be in integrity with our communities and our own humanity. 

We want to live in a society defined by connection, community, and justice, where people and the earth are treated with dignity and inherent value. The paths we take to reach this future must also reflect our values. Another world is possible, if we build it. We want to make ourselves worthy of the world we imagine. 

Values & Frequently asked questions

OUR GUIDING VALUES

  • Racial justice is central to the liberation of all people
  • We are accountable to Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) folks in our communities, and to one another. We understand that accountability and feedback are acts of connection, faith, and community.
  • We are committed to calling white people in, to staying in relationship, and to giving and receiving feedback
  • We come to this work with integrity, power, and even calling, rather than anxiety, shame, guilt, or fear
  • We come to this work from a place of imagination and determination, rather than scarcity or self-defeat
  • It is a sacred duty of white people to redistribute wealth and resources to BIPOC individuals, groups, and communities
  • The path of anti-racism is lifelong, and we as white people will always be on the journey, never at the end

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

  • Why does SURJ-TC organize white people? Isn’t that exclusionary, maybe even racist?
    • SURJ’s role as part of a multi-racial movement is to undermine white support for white supremacy and to help build a racially just society. Read more here.
  • Are newcomers welcome?
    • Newcomers are always welcome! We are always looking to bring new people into the organization and general meetings are a great first step for getting involved with SURJ-TC.
  • Why can’t I find an office or phone listing for you?
    • SURJ-TC is an all-volunteer organization. We have no paid staff and no office. We all have other paid work, and we do organizing work in our spare time because we are passionate about it.
  • Are you a 501(c)3 organization?
    • We aren’t. And currently, we do not have plans to become one.

Accountability

Why accountability?

Strong accountability structures are essential to any healthy and successful movement—especially when it comes to white folks organizing around racial justice. In 2017, after receiving feedback about a lack of clarity around SURJ-TC’s informal accountability structures, we made our accountability partnerships with local BIPOC-led organizations more formal. 

SURJ-TC’s accountability partners help us organize with integrity, and approach conflict with care and nuance, rather than reactivity. Our partnerships help us be responsible and productive white accomplices in racial justice organizing. They guide our focus, strategy, and tactics for organizing our members. Our partners also remind us to anchor ourselves in relationship and in the work, rather than retreating in moments of uncertainty, call-outs, or conflict. 

Our partners

Currently, we have three main accountability partners: Black Visions, Voices for Racial Justice, and the Association for Black Economic Power. Our relationship is a little different with each of these BIPOC-led groups; in general though: 

  • When we take an initiative on our own, we consult them as we develop our plans, and incorporate their advice and requests.
  • When they ask us for assistance with something (fund-raising, help with an action, turning out white people for a hearing, etc.), we make an earnest effort to provide that for them.
  • We stay up to date with their strategies for change and political stances, and publicly back them up.
  • We avoid endorsing things which we think are not aligned with their strategies and political stances.

We are grateful to have the leadership and wisdom of our community partners. Our accountability structure will likely continue to evolve based on community feedback and changes in local organizing. We value, follow, and lift up racial justice organizing beyond just our formal partnerships, and we seek to build additional, mutual relationships with BIPOC-led groups. We hope that our accountability processes will help keep SURJ-TC on course and relevant in the Twin Cities organizing landscape.