People of color and women have been the target of harassment and covert bigotry since the announcement of Trump’s victory. We have to stare these incidents in the face, absorb them, and react. Everyone needs to know that this is not acceptable behavior.
Trump said that he wanted to hear from those of us who did not support him. Well, start listening by understanding the protests and recognizing that your supporters are out here making the world miserable for people you targeted throughout your campaign. Publicly state that this is despicable behavior and that it should not continue.
I will be one of the millions of voices who will be in resistance against your proposed policies. You asked it of us. This is one of my first requests. This is not greatness in America. Tell your supporters to shut this down.
We the people of these United States of America have entrenched into the executive branch of our federal government a man who overtly represents the interests of the white supremacist, capitalist, imperialist patriarchy. We have rooted our legislative and judiciary branches in the values of the party that this man represents. We have elected a man who has proven himself, through his actions and language, that he is unfit to serve the majority of our nation. He has slandered immigrants, called to ban any and all people who observe Islam from entering the country, told us he can do anything he wants to women because he’s a star, has been charged and fined for housing discrimination against black residents in his properties, been accused of sexual assault and rape by many women, evaded paying his taxes through loopholes, advocated jailing his political opponent, led the birther movement, and was endorsed by overt white supremacist organizations like the Ku Klux Klan and the National Socialist Movement. We have elected a Klansman in Chief to sit in the Oval Office and while he’s not the first overt white supremacist to sit at that desk he is taking over the office from the first ever black president and that means something.
We are never going to have all of our problems addressed by a president. Issues are solved by the people and implemented by those we elect to represent us. But we’ve elected, I believe, a man who is not responsive to all of the people and the tone of the direction of our nation is set by the person who sits in the oval office. We are now in a state of active political resistance to the potential actions and policies that have been promised by this president-elect. We now need to organize in order to prevent him and his political majority from being able to roll back progress that has been made in this country.
We need to find community with people who care about the same things we do and with those who think differently. We need to understand what it is we envision for the future and what those who think differently from us envision. We need to find out how we can merge those visions into something that allows all of us to have what we need from this country. We need to merge this into collective liberation. We need people to understand how they’re connected to the #NoDAPL movement even if they aren’t from Standing Rock. We need to see how we’re connected to the sexism the president-elect spews. We need to see how we will all be impacted by his theoretical wall and closing the borders. We need to see how stop and frisk is harmful to all our communities. We need to recognize that the militarization of our police force is harmful to all our communities. We need to know that the humanity of trans folks is not up for debate. We need to have the conversations about how the very real history (and present) of our country still impacts the lives of people of color and women and LGBTQ folx and immigrants and indigenous people and poor people and the intersections therein. That oppressive history is alive in our institutions and culture and it needs to be addressed in a real, organized manner. We need to organize. We have to think beyond elections. More of us have to recognize that by expanding rights and protections and liberty to the most marginalized people we can make the US better for everyone.
Civic engagement has never just been about voting. More has always been required and more will always be required. Today is about finding a way to make sense of what is a shocking result for many people. Tomorrow is for finding ways to get engaged to uproot white supremacist, capitalist, imperialist, patriarchy because it’s easier for us to see. And if it’s easier for us to see, we can find ways to dismantle it and build something new that represents us all. Tomorrow is for us to reconnect with our communities. Tomorrow we find pockets of our communities that hold us accountable to justice for everyone. Tomorrow we recommit to values that emphasize collective liberation and we hold our government (the executive, legislative, and judicial branches) accountable to those values. Tomorrow our work continues.
60 years ago today Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Her actions help kick off the Montgomery bus boycott, a nonviolent campaign to challenge segregation. Her actions defied the culture of white supremacy 60 years ago and you can do something much less challenging to stand against white supremacy today by joining Showing Up for Racial Justice as a sustaining member.
Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) is an organization of white folks who are dedicated to conspiring with people of color to act against white supremacist culture in the US. We do this through a variety of means including are teach-ins, direct action protests, and civil disobedience. There are chapters located throughout the US.
Today SURJ is launching a membership initiative. Please join me in becoming a sustaining member of SURJ by donating a minimum of $5 per month. We also ask that SURJ members make a matching monthly donation to a people of color led organization of your choice.
As a member of SURJ you get to enjoy:
- A well-resourced, kick-ass SURJ doing what we do – organizing tens of thousands of white people for real, meaningful racial justice victories.
- The chance to be part of building a powerful multi-racial majority to challenge racism in all its forms.
- The opportunity to show up, shoulder to shoulder with millions of other white people taking collective action for racial justice.
- Invitations to leadership development opportunities
- Twice yearly updates
- Support from SURJ staff to meaningfully participate in campaigns and projects
- Connections to our extensive network of chapters, affiliates and local leaders (100+ chapters and affiliates and growing!)
- Opportunities to build deep and lasting connections with other members, through in-person meetings and trainings, meet ups at conferences, and online.
If you’re a white person looking to take action in supporting racial justice then I encourage you to join me in being a member of SURJ. The path doesn’t always seem clear for white people to stand against white supremacy but we make the road by walking and you can start your journey by becoming a member and joining a chapter today.
Any questions or comments about membership in SURJ? Leave them below!
Inaction is action in affirmation of oppression and we need to continue that work or start it now. I’ve said it isn’t easy and I know that I don’t have all the answers. But as Paulo Freire and Myles Horton’s book said, “we make the road by walking.” Let’s get started.
chatThere is a lot going on in the US right now about race and racism that is rooted in white supremacist notions. This action is both the overt actions of the KKK, Oath Keepers, the III%ers and covert actions that systemically exist around us such racist microaggressions. If you’re an educator of some kind I hope you’ve heard of that cover white supremacist issues such as microaggressions, white privilege. I hope you’ve heard of the decisive actions of #ConcernedStudent1950 at the University of Missouri. I hope you’ve heard of the students at Yale (and also questioned the thought pieces that spark resistance to student activism). I hope you’ve heard of the students arguing that #BlackBruinsMatter at UCLA. And the actions that many other students are taking across the country.
It’s important that we know these stories and we support the students who are seeking change. It’s important that we reflect on what we’re co-conspiring with. We can choose to conspire with the status quo and say nothing. We can choose to ignore the threats that are posed against our students and say you can make a choice not to come to class if you don’t feel safe. We can choose to tell people that they’re being too sensitive. Or we can choose to acknowledge the patterns of systemic white supremacy and provide space for students to take care of themselves.
All of these movements are steeped in resistance to white supremacy. They’re tied to #BlackLivesMatter and fights for civil rights and justice that have occurred throughout our history. They reflect the courageous activists who came before them and their co-conspirators.
As educators in student affairs we have to realize that there is no neutrality. We cannot make a decision that does not declare allegiance to something. Inaction in the face of oppression is action in favor of oppression. Suggesting that we “wait it out” or hoping that climates get better are direct inaction that affirm the status quo.
Last night I sat in on a conference call with white activists who are all affiliated with Showing Up for Racial Justice (an organization that I would call myself a member of and the origin of the title of this post). We heard from an activist near the border in Arizona who is organizing against militia activity who have taken it upon themselves to guard the border. We heard from another activist in Arkansas who is organizing community discussions (and helped start The Other Arkansas) that offer alternate narratives about history of southerners such as the Southern Tennant Farmer Union. We heard from another activist who is working with the Rural Organizing Project in Oregon who has faced pressure and resistance from white supremacist groups including being followed and death threats.
I mention both the actions of students of color across the US as well as the work of white activists across the US because they are intrinsically interwoven. The work and leadership of the students of color are how we as educators (particularly white educators) demonstrate support for striking out against racist practices to change the nature of our institutions. The work of the white activists I mentioned are examples of white people directly addressing white supremacy in their communities. They are building the critical consciousness of their neighbors and create changes in their communities whether that’s addressing the racist violence of self-proclaimed border militias or leading teach-ins about Natasha McKenna.
As educators I believe that we’re responsible for creating a climate in which all of our students can be engaged in a learning environment because we create that learning environment. This means that we need to address issues if not all of our students feel that they can be involved in their learning community. This means that weneed to address white supremacy which isn’t easy. It’s uncomfortable and I don’t have all the answers but speaking out is one of the first steps. We should ally ourselves with organizations who are working against racism whether that’s a local SURJ affiliate or another racial justice organization. We need to ask ourselves difficult questions about our practices and find ways to incorporate social justice into our work as educators. We need to ask more from our professional associations. We need leadership and demonstrated action from ACPA, NASPA, ACUHO-I, ACUI, etc. on addressing these issues within our profession as it’s written into the values of most of our associations. We need to start having conversations in places that we already have conversations like #SAchat and Facebook groups. We need to organize these thoughts collectively and I would argue that we need to start sharing ways that we’re addressing white supremacy and oppression on our campuses through social media. I suggest using #SURJinSA to share these stories.
As I’ve said before slightly differently, inaction is action in affirmation of oppression. We need to continue that work of standing against oppression or start it now. I’ve said it isn’t easy and I know that I don’t have all the answers. But as Paulo Freire and Myles Horton’s book said, “we make the road by walking.” Let’s get started.