Tompkins County Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) is a chapter of National SURJ, a network of groups and individuals organizing white people for racial justice and against white supremacy. Through community organizing, mobilizing, and education, SURJ moves white people to act as part of a multiracial majority for justice, with accountability to people of color-led organizations locally and nationally.
Why Organize White People for Racial Justice?
We believe white people have a responsibility to work with each other to resist and undermine support for racism/white supremacy; to do the political education work needed to be more effective allies/accomplices in multi-racial struggles for justice; to decrease the burden on people of color to educate and organize white people; and to show up for racial justice actions and campaigns.
We are responding to the call from many leaders of color throughout history (for example during the civil rights era and after the election of Barack Obama) who have asked white people to step up and organize other white people for racial justice. We see this work as one part of a much larger multi-racial movement, in which the leadership of people of color is centered. SURJ believes in collective liberation and mutual interest, and that none of us can be free until all of us are free from white supremacy and its dehumanizing impact.
In alignment with the values of National SURJ, TC SURJ provides a space to build relationships, skills, and political understanding from which to act for change. We use a variety of strategies and tactics in pursuit of our mission, including education, direct action, support for people of color-led organizations, and support for local and national campaigns. We also support members in skillfully addressing racism as it shows up in their relationships, workplaces, and other settings.
Despite the revolutionary steps toward shifting understanding about race during the Black Lives Matter protests in the summer of 2020, there are still broad gaps in racial equity in the United States, and here in Tompkins County. We view current events as important context for our vital work of breaking white silence. We also recognize the centuries-long, unrelenting struggle for racial justice in this country by people of color and white people, whose legacy we honor and learn from.
We believe that racism is integrally connected to economic injustice, patriarchy, colonization (especially our status as settlers on stolen Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫ’ land) and other forms of oppression that harm and divide the many for the benefit of the few. We work in solidarity with local LGBTQ, immigrant rights, worker’s rights and other social movements that advance collective liberation.
How Our Chapter Works
We meet monthly as the TC SURJ chapter to do political education together, build our skill sets, learn about and support each other’s racial justice efforts, and commit to action steps. Chapter meetings are held on the 3rd Monday of each month on Zoom or in person from 6:00-7:30 pm, though they are on Pause for the remainder of 2021.
We currently have working groups which keep our work for racial justice moving forward. These groups meet from once per week to once per month. There are lots of ways to get involved and we encourage you to read about the possibilities via the link above. As our chapter grows & the work continues over the long haul, we may be called to shift focus or move in new, different directions.
How to Connect With Us
To join our general mailing list, or to participate in one of the working/action groups, please email us at tcsurj at gmail.com or follow the instructions on our Show Up page. If you have questions about times and locations for upcoming events, check the calendar on this site or contact tcsurj at gmail.com.
Everyone is welcome. No matter your experience level with racial justice activism, we look forward to working together.
SURJ’s Theory of Change: https://www.showingupforracialjustice.org/theory-of-change.html
What We Mean by “Accountability”: http://www.racialequitytools.org/plan/change-process/accountability
Tompkins County Structural Racism: