Move Money Through the Redistributing White Wealth Campaign

We’ve launched our Redistributing White Wealth campaign! It’s an effort to get white folks in Tompkins County who benefit from systemic racism to start moving money on a regular basis to counteract the racial wealth gap. You can read more about the motivation and the plan in an earlier announcement.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where does the money go?

The goal is to redistribute money to amazing BIPOC-led anti-racist activist organizations in Tompkins County. Every month, we will split the money evenly among these organizations:

  • Ithaca Multicultural Resource Center: MRC engages in cultural and systemic transformation by building with our communities to eliminate barriers to racial justice, cultural dignity, equity and inclusion, and indigenous rights.
  • Southside Community Center: Southside is a community resource center that affirms, empowers, and fosters the development of self-pride among the African–American citizens of greater Ithaca.
  • Black Lives Matter Ithaca: The local chapter of Black Lives Matter. BLM Ithaca is currently raising funds to respond to mutual aid needs in the Black community.
  • Alliance of Families for Justice: AFJ supports, empowers, and mobilizes families and individuals impacted by the criminal justice system so they can marshal their collective power to create a just world.
  • Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫʼ (Cayuga) Nation: The traditional leadership of the sovereign Native nation who are the original stewards of territory that includes Tompkins County.

Logistically, SURJ will write a check to these organizations every month.

Is this a tax-deductible donation?

No. We are not a 501(c)(3) non-profit. Even though the website we’re using calls this a “donation,” we encourage you to see it as redirecting additional income you receive because of structural racism—not as charity.

How do I change or cancel my monthly commitment?

You can create an account with Donorbox to manage the money you move. Go to their website and choose “Donor Login” from the “Login” menu.

Can I send money to just one of these organizations? How about a one-time payment?

Money moved through this campaign is a monthly commitment and goes equally to all of the partner organizations. You can separately send money directly to these organizations if you want by seeking them out individually.

Redistributing White Wealth Campaign Launch Event

Join us on Monday, May 23 at 6pm for a virtual launch event for SURJ’s new Redistributing White Wealth campaign. The event requires advance registration via this form.

Redistributing White Wealth is a campaign to encourage people who benefit from the injustice of the racial wealth gap in Tompkins County to move money to BIPOC-led activist organizations. We want to normalize the idea that white folks in our county should redistribute a portion of their income as a response to systemic racism. You can read more about the motivation and the structure in our post introducing the campaign.

At the event, we’ll get to hear from local leaders at the organizations who will receive the redistributed wealth. We’ll encourage folks to sign up to start moving money during the event. Register today!

End Immigrant Detention in New York State

Thursday, April 28 @ 7pm
Please register now! (Zoom)

It’s time for communities in Upstate NY to mobilize support for the Dignity Not Detention Act!

At this gathering we will hear directly from immigrant rights organizers in New York City and Tompkins County. You will learn the most up-to-date information about the campaign to get the Dignity Not Detention Act passed in the NYS legislature and connect with activists from across the state. We will develop strategies together to expand support for the act. You will also hear about other strategies in NYS that treat immigrants with dignity.  

Presenters:

To register, click here

On any given night, hundreds of New Yorkers are detained by ICE in jails and prisons across the state. They are subjected to inhumane conditions and separated from their families and communities. Several counties in New York profit from immigration detention and ICE is actively seeking to expand detention in New York.

The New York Dignity Not Detention Act (S7373 Salazar /A7099A Reyes) gets New York out of the business of immigration detention. 

Co-sponsored by: Transforming Justice and Organizing Abolition Work Group, Tompkins County SURJ; TC Immigrant Rights Coalition; TC Workers’ Center; SURJ NYC; Abolish ICE NY-NJ; Coordinating Circle, Dryden Groton Plus – Human Dignity Coalition.
Image: https://www.nysylc.org/
For info: beth55harris@gmail.com or kathystute@gmail.com

Parole Justice & Survivor Justice Advocacy Day

We are just a few days away from our upcoming Parole Justice & Survivor Justice advocacy day. At the beginning of National Crime Victims Week, The People’s Campaign for Parole Justice, New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Common Justice, and some of the state’s other leading victim/survivor groups are coming together for an all-day advocacy day in Albany. This event is in support of the Elder Parole, Fair & Timely Parole, and Fair Access to Victim Compensation bills. Together, these three bills promote pathways to redemption for incarcerated people and their families, access to key resources for victims and survivors, and a framework for what real healing and safety can look like.

The day will include a rally, press conference, and meetings with lawmakers at the NY State Capitol in Albany. Food, transportation, and materials will be provided.

Can you join us on April 25th from 9am-5pm? RSVP here. Share this post with your colleagues, friends, and neighbors.

Provide Your Feedback on SURJ’s New Redistributing White Wealth Campaign

We are excited to be exploring a new campaign to redistribute white wealth in Tompkins County, and we would love your feedback! Click here to go straight to the survey, and read on for more background. [Update: The campaign has now launched! You can start moving money today.]

Why redistribute white wealth?

One of SURJ’s core values as a national organization is “there is enough for all”. While we know that there are enough resources to go around and take care of everyone’s basic needs, wealth is distributed unfairly and is deeply impacted by white supremacy, including the historical realities of slavery, land theft, housing discrimination, food apartheid, environmental racism and more. Although certainly not all white people have access to excess wealth, due to systemic racism, the typical white family has eight times the wealth of the typical Black family and five times the wealth of the typical Latinx family. The median white worker in 2021 made 26% more income than the median Black worker. In other words, white people hold a vastly disproportionate amount of wealth in this country and have a large role to play in working towards economic justice for all.

Here in Tompkins County, there are many BIPOC-led organizations working to address systemic racism and its impacts. Because of the racial wealth and income gaps, their work is often impacted by limited resources, including time and money. Even grant funding can cause challenges by restricting uses of the money, requiring staff time to complete applications and reporting, and at times failing to acknowledge racism within review and decision-making processes. 

The goal of SURJ’s Redistributing White Wealth Campaign is to move some of the money that white folks in Tompkins County have access to into BIPOC-led anti-racist organizing work on an ongoing basis, with no strings attached. 

We understand that this proposed campaign is only one small step towards the redistribution of white wealth; however, we believe it’s an important step. Initiatives like this one are being launched in many other communities. It is our hope and vision that this campaign and others like it will eventually lead to broader actions at the local, state and national levels (such as taxing the rich, the land back movement, and the passage of national reparations legislation like H.R. 40). 

Will you join us in redistributing wealth in Tompkins County?

It’s easy! All you will have to do is set up a recurring contribution of any amount to our Redistributing White Wealth fund (link coming when the campaign launches). You don’t have to be wealthy to contribute. Social science research shows that those with lower incomes actually give a greater percentage of their money than those with higher incomes. Maybe you can contribute $8/month, in recognition of the fact that white families have, on average, 8 times the wealth of Black families. Or maybe you are a higher income earner, and are able to contribute $26/month, or even 26% of your monthly income, in recognition of the 26% more income that white workers earn on average compared to Black workers. Maybe you can contribute $100, or even $1000, per month. Choose an amount that feels meaningful to you. You can always adjust your contribution if your circumstances change. When you think about how much you can contribute, consider that this is not a charity project, but a redistribution of wealth in response to systemic racism. 

TC SURJ has partnered with BIPOC-led anti-racist organizations in Tompkins County since our founding – this accountability is core to all the work we do. This new project is intended to increase available resources for our partners, not to replace all the other ways that we strive to support racial justice work in our community. We have been in conversation with some of our partners as we begin to plan for this initiative, and will continue checking in with these and other partners to adapt the project as needed. 

Partner organizations who SURJ has been in communication with about this project include:

  • Ithaca Multicultural Resource Center
  • Southside Community Center
  • Black Lives Matter Ithaca
  • Alliance of Families for Justice
  • Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫʼ (Cayuga) Nation

While the campaign is still taking shape, we have created a survey to gauge the community’s interest and feedback in the proposal. Filling out the survey isn’t a firm commitment, but we hope to follow up when the campaign launches to get you signed up to move money. Thank you for helping the campaign move ahead by filling out the survey! It may take 2–10 minutes.

[Update: The campaign is now live. Please consider redistributing money via this form.]

People’s Campaign for Parole Justice: Advocacy Day

The People’s Campaign for Parole Justice fights for fair and meaningful release opportunities for incarcerated people in NY prisons with the primary goals of decarceration and family reunification. Through the passage of the Elder Parole and Fair & Timely Parole bills, we will collectively ensure that every person in NY State prison has a real chance to come home. They will help to prevent the crisis of aging, sickness, and death in prisons, reunite families and communities, and help to uproot NY’s racist criminal legal system.

On Jan. 11, the People’s Campaign for Parole Justice, a statewide grassroots coalition, will hold their first major Advocacy Day of the year and we’re asking EVERYBODY to come. The advocacy day will be virtual and take place via Zoom. RSVP today!

Tompkins County Virtual Town Hall

Tompkins County Virtual Town Hall
Racial Justice and Healing:
Voting Rights, HALT Solitary Confinement and Parole Justice
7-8:30pm, Wednesday, May 19
Zoom registration link: http://bit.ly/519Justice
For info: Liza Cobb, elcobb54@gmail.com, 571-275-2107

To a virtual town hall, the Alliance of Families for Justice (AFJ) and Tompkins County
Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) have invited racial justice activists, people most
affected by our state’s punishment system, and advocates for social justice to speak
about policies that contribute to flourishing communities that respect the dignity and
humanity of all.

At the town hall, outstanding organizers will share recent victories for fundamental
human rights during the 2021 NYS legislative session and advocate for important bills
central to the People’s Campaign for Parole Justice. Phoebe Brown, the CNY AFJ
coordinator and a candidate for the Ithaca Common Council, will serve as moderator.
Following the presentations, there will be an opportunity for questions.
Speakers:

ReEntry Theatre actors: Personal experiences of incarceration
Soffiyah Elijah, ED, Alliance of Families for Justice: Voting rights for disenfranchised
people
Jerome Wright, Western NY Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement (CAIC):
HALT solitary confinement
Jose Saldaña, ED, Release Aging People in Prison (RAPP): People’s Campaign for
Parole Justice
TeAna Taylor, Policy and Communications Associate, RAPP: Take Action: Elder Parole
and Fair and Timely Parole bills
Anna Kelles, NYS Assembly member for District 125: Call to support “Justice Roadmap,”
including parole justice bills, in Upstate NY
Khalil Bey, Ithaca artist, community activist and mentor who was formerly incarcerated:
Inspiration through art
Bill Underwood, former entrepreneur in the music and entertainment business, now
serving community through Underwood Legacy Fund: After 33 years of incarceration,
creating second chance at life

Co-sponsors: Release Aging People in Prison (RAPP); People’s Campaign for Parole
Justice (PCPJ); Western NY Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement (CAIC);
ReEntry Theatre, project of Civic Ensemble; Tompkins County Antiracist Coalition; and
Decarcerate Tompkins.

Response to Mayor Myrick’s Reimagining Public Safety Proposal

The Tompkins County Antiracist Coalition, a collection of progressive organizations and individuals active since 2020, opposes Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick’s “Reimagining Public Safety” initiative as an attempt to dilute and rebrand the grassroots demand for police defunding and community reinvestment.

While aspects of Myrick’s proposal appear progressive, the plan sidesteps the call to defund police—a central demand of the antiracist movement that arose last year after the brutal killing of George Floyd. Myrick’s proposal, which actually expands law enforcement budgets, seeks to reorganize policing instead of shifting real resources and power to vulnerable communities that are most in need of genuine safety and security.

Media coverage of the proposal has touted its seemingly bold elements, including unarmed officers, dismantling the current IPD structure, increased access to mental health services, and the mandate that IPD officers would have to reapply to a redesigned Public Safety department. However, Mayor Myrick’s assertion—not present in the proposal—that current officers would be rehired under his plan suggests that the plan’s objective is to reshuffle rather than defund or dissolve the IPD.

The proposal’s general ambiguity is troubling. We see no commitment to permanently terminate IPD officers who have abused and brutalized black community members and other targeted citizens. When questioned about this omission during a webinar that followed his proposal’s release, Myrick skirted the question, saying only that, “Accountability is very important to me.”

The main problem with this proposal is that it calls for INCREASING rather than reducing law enforcement budgets. The demands that crystallized last summer in the wake of the police killings of Floyd, Breonna Taylor and many others were to defund and even abolish the police. Policing as an institution is fundamentally shaped by white supremacy and capitalism. A real vision of public safety means reinvesting in the needs of our community—to name a few,

housing, dignified employment, childcare, and mental health and addiction services that are fully detached from the punitive mechanisms of criminal justice and law enforcement. The Myrick proposal cunningly reinforces the core logic of policing while expanding law enforcement personnel. Dubbing such officers “public safety workers” is a cynical marketing scheme. Additionally, we reject a $50,000 rebranding of the SWAT truck. Organizers have been demanding for years that the SWAT truck be transformed into a community resource such as a mobile health clinic, but this proposal instead invests significant money into making it over while its terrorizing purpose remains the same.

The proposal fails to specify the ratio of armed to unarmed officers. Nor does it specify the nature of the relationship between armed and unarmed personnel, and precisely how the two groups would coordinate in the context of routine and urgent responses. It remains unclear how officers—armed or unarmed—would be deployed to EMS calls. This ambiguity leaves ample room for the continuation of entrenched prejudices that have so often proved deadly for people of color and other vulnerable populations.

Disarming police is an important step toward real public safety. However, the deep ambiguities of the proposal make it impossible to determine whether the new Public Safety department would actually constitute a decrease or increase in the aggregate presence of law enforcement weapons and mechanisms of violence.

It is important to note that unarmed people DO harm Black, Indigenous and People of Color community members all the time. Nor is training the answer to racist police violence. Under the Mayor’s ”reimagined” police, just as under the current system, law enforcement personnel inevitably serve as the entry point into the mass incarceration regime. Police interactions are the first step into a system of racial control that routinely monitors, harasses, detains, incarcerates, and otherwise oppresses BIPOC people. Instead of reimagining, genuine defunding of police is crucial: we need a large-scale reinvestment away from policing and toward a true vision of anti-racism and community safety.

While we do not support the mayor’s vague and misleading proposal, we also forcefully reject the claim that the plan amounts to “union busting.” Those who weaponize support for organized labor to undermine grassroots demands for defunding and depolicing are opponents of BOTH racial justice AND genuine struggles for worker power.