By Liz Moore, Director
Members like you are making big work happen! The landscape of our Peace and Justice Action League community is big and varied! I feel so lucky that my position in leadership means I can see so much of it and to celebrate it all! What I see is bold, thoughtful, independent, locally-driven, grassroots people-power in action – and it is beautiful!
I want you to know that none of what you read about in this newsletter would be possible if not for members like you. This fall we are marking 44 years since the doors opened. Every year, the most consistent, reliable source of support, funding, time, and power is the community: that means YOU. Members who donate and members who volunteer make all the difference! Whether it’s $15 for new bullhorn batteries for a demonstration, $250 to fund a workshop to build our organizer muscles, or $5000 to fuel our Young Activist Leaders Program – your donations make this organization’s wheels turn.
Sustaining members who give $5 a month or $100 a month make it possible for us to plan long-term campaigns with the staying power to “do it again after they said no,” which is how we are building grassroots power over time.
I want to tell you about three pieces of work by members like you that give me energy and fill my cup.
The Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) committee of PJALS is doing two important projects. On the second Thursdays of every month, SURJ committee members are discussing White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Race, by Robin DiAngelo. The goal is to increase the racial justice knowledge, skills, and development of white people who want to be appropriate and useful allies in how they enact their values of racial justice, knowing that white people are conditioned to internalize superiority by our dominant white culture in so many forms.
In addition, the members of the Showing Up for Racial Justice committee have a second goal: to connect with and move more white people into action for racial justice as part of a multi-racial majority. So, members have done outreach by tabling at the South Perry Street Fair and Unity in the Community. Even more exciting to me, members have gone door-to-door in two canvasses to talk with everyday people about institutional racism here in Spokane County – how’s that for bold organizing?
At tables and at doors, members have educated folks about why we must oppose a new jail and how they can support the Spokane Immigrant Rights Coalition’s legal defense fund (which you can contribute to at www.pjals.org/immigrantjustice). Because of these members being so bold as to talk to strangers, they have brought back a nice stack of signed postcards opposing a new jail, which we’ll deliver to County Commissioners in a community event soon!
I am so grateful for every single member of our Showing Up for Racial Justice committee and for the leadership of Taylor Weech and Shar Lichty! You can join the committee on any second Thursday for the book discussion and on fourth Thursdays to be part of the next phase of outreach!
Next, I want to tell you about the Peace and Justice Action Committee. In my 25+ years of organizing, strengthening our movement’s anti-militarism and pro-peace work is one of the biggest challenges I’ve experienced. The peace movement is, frankly, weak and scattered, with sincere good work being done by a few, but without overall unity and coordination and largely lacking an organizing approach focused on engaging more people to build power. In addition, we have not developed consistent ways to name and take action on the connections between militarism and racism. This leaves us vulnerable to the ways that racism is used to manipulate white people into supporting wars against people of color, dehumanizing people of color all over the world to make them bomb-able and occupy-able. This is the same strategy through which black people and Native people have been dehumanized right here.
So, members of the Peace and Justice Action Committee are doing two important efforts. First, they have connected more than 100 Advocacy Teams through joining the network of the Friends Committee on National Legislation. This is an important strategy because it creates connection and coordination. There are now 6 Advocacy Teams in Washington: 5 in Western Washington and our Peace and Justice Action Committee here in Spokane County. We will share the same focus on federal policy change and we’ll make our voices heard to Senator Murray and Senator Cantwell with coordinated timing and messaging. This will mean we are less isolated; our voices and values will be echoed and amplified all over the state!
The Peace and Justice Action Committee is also continuing work to center the voices and expertise of people who are directly impacted by racism and militarism. Our movement has a great deal of growing and learning to do in this area. Shar will be reaching out to local accountability partners and experts to listen and to ask for recommendations to guide the committee’s developing work on this. You can join the Peace and Justice Action Committee on the 1st and 3rd Thursdays every month to help this work take form and to make your voice heard in advocacy.
Finally, I want to shine a light of appreciation on the wonderful people of the Steering Committee, our board of directors. These eight people (listed on page 2) give their time and thoughtful, courageous leadership; they are the brains, guts, spines and hands of the Peace and Justice Action League. I am so extremely fortunate to work with them!
PJALS’ Steering Committee has committed to using an intersectional racial equity lens in every area of work, from systems-change organizing to leadership development to community relationships. PJALS leads with race because racism is used to divide and manipulate our country and communities. “Intersectional racial equity” means that justice requires a racial equity analysis as well as consciousness of overlapping and interlocking systems of oppression and privilege.
PJALS’ priorities impact working class families, people of color, women, youth, and community members whose elected leaders don’t represent their values of justice and peace. Our ongoing commitment is to nurture a leadership body that reflects those most impacted by the array of issues we work on. Steering Committee (board) members bring life experience as rural, working class, formerly homeless, formerly incarcerated, trans, queer, women, senior, young, immigrant, Muslim, Jewish, African American, South Asian, and white activists. Three of our eight Steering Committee members are people of color. Three are graduates of our Young Activist Leaders Program. Our leadership body is inter-generational, cross-class, and increasingly multi-racial. I am so grateful for their leadership!
The Steering Committee is responsible for strategic leadership shaped by our intersectional racial equity lens and guided by results of member priority surveys. In our most recent survey in 2017, respondents reflected the racial and economic diversity of Spokane County and were disproportionately women, LGBTQ, and working-class people. Watch for our upcoming member priority survey this month and make sure our wonderful Steering Committee members hear from you!
People like you, giving financial support and volunteer time in ways that work for them, are together making the Peace and Justice Action League a vibrant, busy, creative, committed community advancing our values! You can continue to fuel our work together through participating in committees, donating, and filling out the member survey coming soon!
Thank you for everything you do!