On August 19th, our SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice) committee responded to a call from national groups including Movement for Black Lives, The Majority, and Black Lives Matter Charlottesville for a national day of action and response to the white supremacist terror in Charlottesville the prior weekend. There had already been a vigil and a rally the Monday and Tuesday prior here in Spokane so we plotted something different that could continue beyond a single day.
The call for actions specified that people should gather at a site symbolic of white supremacy in their communities. In brainstorming, we thought of enough to fill this map (and are still adding to it). We printed and distributed the maps with a link to the full online version and put up posters about white supremacy and the historic context of each site at roughly a dozen of the sites listed.
Though I made a crucial error in printing the maps–I defined white supremacy along the side and labeled the maps “Partial Map of Historical and Contemporary White Supremacy in Spokane” but failed to include a position statement!–our street team was able to have some good conversations at Unity in the Community nonetheless. We have since clarified the printed maps (below) to state that of course we are anti-white supremacy!
We finished the day by hosting a conversational gathering on the lawn of the Spokane County Courthouse, the site underlined as a priority by the people of color present at our planning meeting and supported later by our accountability partners. Since it was a Saturday, the offices were closed and the courthouse campus was relatively quiet, so we didn’t encounter any security or police presence, but I for one enjoyed the contrast of a picnic-like gathering on camp chairs and blankets in front of this symbol of state power and repression.
The purpose of the gathering was to connect people to one another, to existing projects furthering racial justice, and to identify gaps and needs in local organizing. We generated these lists of existing opportunities to plug in and needs and were able to share resources, support, and dialogue between new and seasoned activists alike.
SURJ meets on the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays of the month at 6:30 PM at the Community Building (some location rotation, check calendar to confirm!) and all are welcome. This fall, our focus is on fundraising to support undocumented neighbors being targeted by ICE through the development of a community legal fund, educating white people about their role in upholding (or dismantling) white supremacy, and responding to any threat to our comrades of color that may arise in these challenging times. Connect on Facebook here or email surjspokane at gmail for more information.