SURJ Workshop Orientation

We’ve assembled helpful information about our shared values, guidelines for discussion in our workshops, and ways you can get involved. Read on below.

SURJ Shared Values

Calling People In, Not Calling People Out:
Our focus is working with white people who are already in motion. In activist circles there can be a culture of shame and blame; we want to bring as many white people as possible into taking action for racial justice.

Taking Risks, Learning, and Keep Going:
Everyday, people of color (POC) take risks in living their lives with full dignity. We challenge ourselves and other white people to take risks as well. We know that in the process, we will make mistakes. Our goal is to learn from those mistakes and keep showing up.

Tap Into Mutual Interest:
Mutual interest means we move away from the idea of helping others or just thinking about what’s good for us, and to understanding that our own liberation as white people—our humanity—is inextricably linked to racial justice. It means our own freedom is bound up in the freedom of POC.

Accountability Through Action:
SURJ is called upon to take action. We remain accountable to POC both personally and collectively in the following ways:

  • Showing up as “allies” when we are requested to do so. Making solidarity statements.
  • Fundraising for POC led organizations.
  • Checking in with POC led organizations.
  • Being open to criticism.
  • Listening to POC with humility and without being defensive; asking, “How can we help POC do what they want to do?”
  • Using white “leverage” to do our work, open doors.
  • Breaking white silence. Showing up as a white contingent to say “This matters to us, too.” Being VISIBLE in opposition to racism.

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How we speak at SURJ SD

Step Up!…Then Step Back.
We need all voices, so speak up when you have something vital to say. If you have had many chances to speak, however, allow others to speak. Be ok with pauses in the conversation. Some people process in different ways.

Keep It Crisp
Try to keep your comments clear and to the point. Once you gotten your message across, step back.

Use “I” Statements
Speak only from your own experiences and avoid speaking for others or in generalizations.

Assume Positive Intent…and Nothing Else
Listen to others’ experience assuming that they are speaking with their best intentions. Do not assume that you know anything else about that person or their background.

Lean Into Discomfort
Meetings and topics can be difficult, and sometimes your views about the world or about yourself may be be challenged. Be willing to listen and to experience some discomfort in these discussions.

Correct…but Correct Gently
If you hear something that is incorrect or hurtful, you should politely speak up about it. Letting comments slip by without note or responding with harsh judgment will only make the space less safe and productive.

Respect Confidentiality
Assume that stories and comments shared are confidential. If you wish to share someone’s comments, please ask them first.

Uphold Commitments
The key to a successful team is honoring your commitments to the group. If you cannot do so, let the team know as soon as possible and seek to find a replacement.

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What you can do today:

Sign the petition demanding accountability for Philando Castile and Alton Sterling’s murdersThe Color of Change—an excellent organization that specialized in net-roots activism that elevates the voices of Black people and their allies—has initiated a petition demanding accountability for Philando Castile and Alton Sterling’s murders.

Sign the petition calling for the U.S. Department of Justice to track, document and publish data on police killings nationally:

Write to your local police department and ask them to mandate anti-bias training with all of their personnel. A sample from this week’s MinnPost is linked below:

Support the Black Youth Project’s Agenda to Build Black Futures—a set of economic goals and structural changes, and a call to action, to improve the lives of Black people. You can help publicize this agenda developed by young Black people and donate to support their work.

Keep talking with your children about race issues and racial justice. Some resources are Embrace Race: Raising Kids in a World Where Race Matters and Raising Race Conscious Children: Resources for Talking.

Give crucially needed donations to support bail funds and Black-led organizations.

Find your place in SURJ San Diego

Chapter Lead
Aaryn Belfer

Actions Team Head

Communications Team Head

Membership Team Head
Blair Overstreet

Solidarity Team Head
Merry Maisel

POC-Lead Org. Liaison
Sam Belfer

Steering Committee Member
Kim Bohy

Steering Committee Member
Nate Bohy

Education Committee Head