Showing Up for Love, Justice & Dignity

Below is a statement from SURJ’s (Showing Up for Racial Justice) leadership in light of the 136 murders of Black people by police this year and the shooting in Dallas last night.

SURJ condemns loss of life, no matter who is dead. As an organization committed to organizing white people to dismantle a criminal justice system brutalizing communities of color across the nation, SURJ condemns violence against the police and mourns the injuries and deaths of police officers killed in Dallas.

A system that brutalizes people of color communities and destroys the lives even of those who are enforcing it, is not a sustainable system, a moral system, nor a system that can serve the kind of world in which ALL people are valued and cherished.

Across this country, Black communities live in terror that someone among them, a father, a sister, a child, could be next in the rising death toll of their lives.… Read more

Showing up and Honoring the #BlackLivesMatter Movement

The #BlackLivesMatter movement is expanding and deepening across the nation, and spreading around the globe.  This sign, hashtag and rallying cry are filling streets, newsfeeds, imaginations and institutions.  And white-identified folks eager to engage, enraged by injustice, and inspired by the movement are showing up in large numbers and in different ways. As white allies act, and reflect on action, it is key to understand what is being asked for by Black leadership, what is useful, powerful, and what is detrimental. Many brilliant Black organizers have commented on the ways white folks have co-opted or redirected movement energy from #BlackLivesMatter, or distracted from the movement by generating overwhelming media coverage on the “violence” of property destruction.

Today, as millions across the country prepare for a weekend of marches and mobilizations nationwide, we wanted to cross-post this piece by Alicia Garza in The Feminist Wire, to learn from and listen to one of the founders of this movement.… Read more

Words on the Wall from WPC Workshops

It was a joy and honor to share two White Noise Collective workshops at the 13th Annual White Privilege Conference in Albuquerque. This year’s overall theme was “Intersectionality”.  Both times we had a full room of wonderfully engaged participants, intergenerational perspectives, fascinating insights and Theater of the Oppressed explorations.  As people entered the room, we asked them to write a word or phrase in response to nine questions that were up on the walls on large sheets of paper, to get us collectively thinking about some of the dynamics, tensions, stereotypes and possibilities of this intersection.  A number of participants asked if we would share the responses, and so here they are in their fullness, compiled and combined from both sessions.

Thank you to everyone for your openness, presence, enthusiasm, constructive criticism, and inspiration!

What is the role of white women holding up the system of white supremacy?

Passivity/submission * silence is acceptance * non-confrontational * submissive * partnering * management * keep quiet * amnesia/numbing of pain after witnessing racist violence done by white men * majority of K-12 teachers * keeping the peace * seeking power * silence <-> complicity * focusing activist efforts on feminism (white women) * history of protecting whiteness in the name of protecting white women * being afraid to challenge white males * fear of perception of “bitch” – “unhappy” – “cold”, etc.… Read more

A Response to Occupy Oakland (or: My first time getting tear gassed by police)

I am a white woman and moved to North Oakland a little over a year ago. The implications of that fact alone could fill a book. Despite my fear of perpetuating gentrification, I am a proud Oakland resident and I have stood in solidarity with many of the anti-racist, anti-classist movements of late. I am against gang injunctions; against the police brutality that has become the sad norm for many low-income and residents of color in Oakland; and against increasing police budgets through library and school closures.

I have not been sleeping at the Occupy Oakland encampment and was not part of the group that was brutally attacked Tuesday in the early hours with no warning. I had just gone down to Occupy Oakland for my first meeting last weekend (it was a discussion by Indigenous Elders about Non-Violence, which is at the core of the Occupy movement and something I strongly believe in) and was beginning to get more involved with the occupation.… Read more

“Appreciation or Appropriation?”

Every year at the How Weird St. Faire in San Francisco, several Howard St. blocks transform into a magical sweetly freaky village of dj stages/floats, art in alleys, local designers, mythological realms, fabulous costumes.  Streets taken over for public creative expression, dancing on the concrete in the sunlight is a beautiful thing. One of my favorite things. This year, amidst the dazzle of many outfits, I was repeatedly struck by how many people were wearing large feathered headdresses (along with hot pants, platforms, ironic t-shirts, etc.).  White people dressing up in Plains Indian style war bonnets – what is going on with this costume choice? What to say? I was recently discussing this phenomenon (its many manifestations and the sensitive discomfort of calling it out) with a friend who is a long time solidarity activist with Native land-based struggles, and she and a colleague have just created a fantastic pamphlet on exactly this!… Read more