Showing Up For Racial Justice (National) was founded in 2009 in response to the racist backlash against the election of Barack Obama. People of color called on white folks to organize other white folks, recognizing that white people have a responsibility to dismantle white supremacy in all its forms. Over the last 10 years, it has grown to a network of 125 chapters across the US and Canada, mobilized over 200,000 people into action, and has built infrastructure to keep our people in action for years to come.
SURJ North County, formed in 2019, expanded from an initial 60 members to over 400 members after the murder of George Floyd. We continue to grow and are glad you’re here.
Your talents and heart for this work are needed.
SURJ North County San Diego works to move white people to act as part of a multi-racial majority for justice with passion and accountability through:
1) Education: helping people develop a better understanding of white supremacy and how to interrupt systems of oppression in our daily lives.
2) Policy change: helping develop policies and legislation in support of racial justice.
3) Amplification of oppressed voices: showing up for actions, sharing their words and thoughts, and trusting their lived experiences.
SURJ is a national network of groups and individuals working to undermine white supremacy and to work toward racial justice. Through community organizing, mobilizing, and education, SURJ 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 provides a space to build relationships, skills and political analysis to act for change.
Racism and white supremacy keep the many divided for the benefit of the few. We must have an inclusive, open-hearted approach to organizing — calling people into this work rather than creating barriers to participation — while maintaining a clear political line. The following outlines our Values:
CALLING PEOPLE IN – NOT OUT
- SURJ is trying to create a culture and community that people actually want to be a part of.
- The left (especially middle-class and wealthy people in social movements) has a long history of shaming and blaming people who don’t have the “perfect” words or don’t exactly agree with our analysis. That kind of behavior doesn’t help us build a mass movement for change. We need people who want to join us!
- Calling people in is how we want to be with one another as white people. That means:
- Recognizing we all mess up, and speaking from this shared experience
- Being specific and direct
- Talking to people in times and places that support conversation and learning
- Calling people in isn’t:
- How we want to be with people in power — we organize to create tension and target people in power. Calling them in isn’t how we think change happens.
- Something we expect from people of color
- A way to keep people in the mainstream comfortable. When people who are at the “margins” of a group (such as LGBTQ folks, people with disabilities, poor and working-class people) have feedback or choose to speak, they don’t need to be “polite” or avoid tension.
ACCOUNTABILITY THROUGH COLLECTIVE ACTION
- We believe change happens when we build with millions of other people to change culture, policies and practices. We need a mass movement to make change.
- Many people, especially middle- and owning-class people, have been trained to think that if we as individuals transform or learn new things, then change will happen.
- A focus on individual action will exclude the poor, working-class, rural, disabled, and multigenerational leaders we need.
- Accountability means we are in a relationship with and take direction from people of color.
- We build accountability relationships with people of color who are doing racial justice work in the movement and who are accountable to a group of people.
- Accountability doesn’t mean waiting by the phone for a person of color to tell us exactly what to do. It means developing plans to organize in the white community and seeking feedback.
- Sometimes people of color are too busy organizing in their own communities to provide us feedback. We should act in those cases and not wait for permission.
TAKE RISKS, MAKE MISTAKES, LEARN, AND KEEP GOING
- As white people, we are going to make mistakes when doing racial justice work. It’s inevitable. We don’t know anyone who has been in the work and hasn’t made a mistake. Not a single person.
- People of color take risks every day by living and moving through the world. We commit to challenging ourselves to be outside our comfort zones when doing this work.
- While we take on real risk, we know that the risk is always greater for people of color.
- When we make mistakes, we want to take the time to reflect on them thoughtfully and keep moving in the work. We cannot let making mistakes prevent us from continuing our work. There’s just too much at stake.
- We need to support our friends and members of our group when they make mistakes to learn and stay in motion.
ORGANIZE OUT OF MUTUAL INTEREST
- Racial justice isn’t something we help people of color with.
- The system of white supremacy harms all of us — including white people, though in very different ways than people of color.
- If we are going to stay in the work for the long haul, we need to get clear with ourselves about what we have to gain through this fight.
- White supremacy has hurt white people by cutting us off from powerful traditions and cultures that we come from. Instead, we learn to celebrate money and power.
- Every person has their own story about why they started to do this work. Maybe they saw violence as a queer person that connected them to violence people of color experience at the hands of police. They may have grown up poor and seen how racism and money are connected. These stories help us find our mutual interest.
THERE IS ENOUGH FOR ALL
- There are enough resources in the world for everyone’s basic needs to be met (decent housing, food, safety, etc).
- The problem isn’t that we don’t have enough stuff — it’s that it’s distributed unfairly.
- The people at the top — the 1% — have most of the wealth. They use racism as a tool to keep us fighting amongst ourselves, instead of united and fighting against them for the things we need to live full lives.
- We are trained to believe that there is a shortage of resources, so we need to hoard them, avoid sharing, and compete with others. In order to build a movement for justice, we need to share and support one another.
- People will do this work in different ways, and that’s okay because we need everyone joining this work.
GROWING IS GOOD
- We need millions of white people to join the movement for racial justice.
- This means we need our groups to constantly grow.
- Sometimes it feels easier to close our groups off and only spend time with people who are like us. In order to build a movement, we need to push ourselves to open up and work with anyone ready to take action.
- It is important to make sure new people have a chance to become leaders. That means making a lot of opportunities for new people to do new things. Action is how we create commitment to our work!
- Our culture, media, and even sometimes movement leaders blame poor and working-class white people for racism, often without recognizing that middle- and owning-class white people disproportionately support policies and practices that uphold white supremacy.
- We reject the harmful stereotypes and the analysis that poor and working-class white people are responsible for racism. The people who benefit most from racism and white supremacy are the very wealthy — not poor or working-class white people.
- Poor and working-class people of color and white people have been at the front lines of anti-racist struggle for generations.
- SURJ is committed to supporting the leadership of and organizing in poor and working-class communities.
- We need people of all class backgrounds in this work.
OUR COMMITMENT TO OUR MEMBERS
Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) is a national network, and our local chapter formed in 2019. SURJ North County San Diego is just one autonomous, all volunteer chapter, in a national network of over 100 affiliated groups, with some closer relationships to other nearby SURJ chapters. We are a work in progress and align with the SURJ value of taking risks, making mistakes, and keep going. All with an eye towards working in community for a greater good.
As with any fledgling organization we recognize the need for accountability to our chapter members. We use the term “chapter member” as reference to anyone who has signed up for updates or attended multiple events with us, and “chapter organizers/team leaders” are involved in one or more groups. Accountability to our chapter members and allies will continue to be at the forefront of our structure and evident in our practices by adhering to our vision, mission, and agreements.
Conflict Resolution –
Restorative Practice recognizes that disagreements and harms are a natural part of life and, as people who value relationships, it is essential to address those harms with care and support. Our commitment to creating a culture of care asks that we practice accountability, look at the unmet needs often underlying our disputes, repair harm whenever possible, and create the conditions for stronger relationships. Moving forward we simply ask that the SURJ agreements be adhered to, specifically:
Calling People In, by creating a culture and community of mutual respect that people want to be a part of.
That means: Recognizing we all mess up and speaking from this shared experience. Being specific and direct. Talking to people in times and places that support conversation and learning.
We ask that all communications and comments be submitted via the contact form on our website to ensure they are directly addressed by the Governance Team. We have formed an alliance with AWARE-LA/WP4BL and their conflict engagement steering committee for issues that cannot be resolved within our organization.
A Path to Leadership –
We understand that organizations grow “at the speed of trust” and grow from initial individual and interpersonal relationships. The central decision-making body of SURJ consists of a governance team, all organizers who have demonstrated a heartfelt desire to contribute and support our vision, mission, and values, have been invited to join based on the relationships and trust they have built.
Diversity and outreach –
We recognize that it will take a mass mobilization to topple white supremacy, and that means including, centering and organizing with and among all of our communities: working poor and working class, urban and rural, queer and trans, formerly incarcerated, substance use community, disabled community and all marginalized voices within and outside of the white community.
The SURJ network is committed to developing long-term transformative alliances: organization-to-organization, and person to person relationships. At SURJ-NCSD we are committed to exploring our outreach to create an environment that feels all-inclusive and an organization where all feel welcomed and supported.
The past year has seen our focus to be primarily on issues surrounding the Black and Latinx community, we understand that there are many others who have suffered at the hands of a white supremacist, patriarchal, capitalist structure. Although we are still in our infancy as an organization, it is our desire to provide strong support and focus for Indigenous, Rural, Queer, and the Houseless rights and equity.
Centering Class –
We reject the harmful stereotypes, and the analysis that poor and working-class white people are responsible for racism.
The people who benefit most from racism and white supremacy are the very wealthy — not poor or working-class white people. Poor and working-class people of color and white people have been at the front lines of anti-racist struggles for generations.
SURJ-NCSD is committed to supporting the leadership of and organizing in poor and working-class communities. We need people of all class backgrounds in this work.