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2 ways we’re showing up for racial justice

2 ways we’re showing up for racial justice

By Taylor Weech, SURJ committee chair

               Our Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) committee is gearing up for a big summer and we want you to join us in building community support for campaigns impacting racial justice in our community. SURJ is a national, chapter-based organization that focuses on undermining white support for white supremacy, and our local chapter lives right here at PJALS. We have focused on dually working to tear down and unlearn white supremacy within our institutions, organizations, schools, and selves while also finding concrete ways to support and show up for the impactful organizing led locally by people of color.

               We have built structure for the internal work by launching a book group this winter and we just finished reading and discussing “So You Want to Talk About Race” by Seattle writer Ijeoma Oluo. I think I speak for the committee in saying that we highly recommend it and there are now multiple copies floating around the PJALS community for the borrowing. On Thursday, June 13th we will begin our next read, “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo. We do 3 chapters at a time and new folks are always welcome!

               Turning outward, we have planned a summer of canvassing to reach out beyond our usual base to spread the word and build support for key campaigns heating up in Spokane. We will be at community events and, more crucially, going door to door in neighborhoods to engage new people in the fight against a new jail and in sharing tangible ways to support our immigrant and refugee neighbors as they are targeted by federal enforcement and local discrimination. We know that many people in our community care about these and other issues of racial justice, and we hope to have deep conversations and ultimately, get more folks to show up with their support in ways that make real change.

               We want you to come have these conversations with us so we can have even more impact! Never been door to door? We want to push all of our skills by supporting each other with training and education. We are scheduling our (mostly Saturday) canvasses from June-September now, so to get more information and make sure you’re in the loop, contact Shar at slichty@pjals.org.

               We hope to see you at SURJ this season!

Book group–2nd Thursdays at 5:30 PM, Regular business meeting–4th Thursdays at 5:30 PM, both at Community Building Mezzanine Conference Room (35 W. Main, Spokane, WA)

3 comments

I have read two of Di Angelo’s books, one of which was “White Fragility.” I hope that you are not adopting her hypotheses about this, as they are not supported by any statistical evidence. She generalizes about white people as if they were all raised and acculturated similarly. This is a false premise. White people are no more all alike than black or brown people are. One can oppose racism without adopting her beliefs that white people have all benefited from racism and all white people support it. She is proclaiming “one size fits all” and trying to cram pegs into holes whether they fit or not. Her dogma is causing problems within many progressive communities, including the Unitarian Universalist Church, the United Church of Christ, Evergreen State College, and even the Democratic Party. If you read Di Angelo, I suggest that you also read critiques of her theories by writers such as John McWhorter of Columbia University, who is a black linguistics professor, and Coleman Hughes, currently a student at Columbia who frequently publishes online essays and recently testified before Congress regarding reparations. Neither of these men is on the political right and their views should be seriously considered.

White people benefit from racism not because we scheme and plot to do so but because an oppressive system naturally advantages us in countless small and many large ways without our having to do much of anything to get those “benefits.” We all benefit passively to an extent so we all have a duty to try to dismantle this and all the interlocking systems of oppression that exist in our society.

I fail to see how denial of anyone’s rights has benefited me in any way. It does not help me when people of color are discriminated against when seeking rental housing. I derive no benefit from prejudicial treatment of black criminal suspects.

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