Notes from White People Take Action for Charleston Call

Notes SURJ White People Take Action for Charleston Call, 6.19.2015


For audio recording from last nights call, click here.


Action Steps Highlighted on Call:


1.Take Action: There is a national call for action, Sunday night at 6pm in solidarity with Charleston. To find out about actions in your area.  Share your action on the SURJ website here.


2. Donate: The Mother Emmanuel AME Church, where 9 members were murdered needs funds to cover the funeral costs and other expenses.  Please give here. 


3.Outreach: Over and over, people of color have said that the work of white people is to reach out and bring in other white people.  SURJ chapters across the country are engaging white people in their communities through door-knocking. On the call last night over 65% of participants committed to do outreach in their town.  Check out our script, how to order Black Lives Matter yard signs and answers to frequently asked questions here.


Call Content:

Dara Silverman, SURJ- SURJ is working in partnership with movement for Black Lives, BLM, SONG, SURJ Charleston on taking action.


A lot of sadness, mourning, and grief, part of our role in organizing more white people is to acknowlge and hold that and to move into action to engage other white people. Challenge of white supremacy separates us from each other and communities that we are end and keeps us from work that we must do to end white supremacy.


Actions across the country Sunday, June 21 at 6pm in support of families murdered at AME church, black folks mourning across the country. Ferguson Response Tumbler actions in your city/area at 6pm Sunday night.


AME Church something that happened to church and to black community, planned attack on black church, murder and genocide central strategies of white supremacy.


Hearing from Spencer Sunshine, with Political Research Associates, talk with us about history of white nationalist movement, murder comes out of:


Spencer Sunshine: Don't know a lot about shooter yet, info comes out after shooters make public statement and go to house. Dylann Roof was involved in ideologically nationalist circles, organized racist white. White nationalist have 50,000 members and 700,000 in movement. Right wing of republican party, people who run institutions that uphold institutional racism. Ideological continuity but political differences.


Roof wore jacket with South African apartied flags, would have to be pretty deep in movement to know references. Shooting part of three trends: 1. mass shootings sense Columbine, 2. Mass shootings by white nationalists on religious institutions--2012 Michael Wade Page, skinhead, sheik temple oak creek WI, 2013 NC two Jewish communities in Kansas, now this, black Christians attacked, 3. part of long history of attacking black churches, not just 1960s has continued through 1990s and happens every few years.


Dara Silverman- If people are looking for more background on white nationalist movement, check out website for Political Research Associates. Good reports, tracking right.


Will now hear from Kate, Elias, and Jillian from Southeners on New Ground (SONG).  They organize LGBTQ communities and people across the south.


Kate Shapiro, SONG-22 year old multiracial LGBTQ organization in South. Crews of LGBTQ people organizing for liberation across the region. Excellent crew in Charleston that has been growing and testing skills and lines different level of organizing in Charleston. What it means to live free from fear, how do we push back on anti-black racism in our communities.

Seeing this as a particular attack as a response to increase in black liberation organizing in this moment. As multiracial organization, we have a vested interest and responsibility to actually coordinate a line to our white family to dismantle these system, alongside should to should poc, black immigrant communities.


Elias Lyles, SONG:  Talking about conditions here in Charleston that we are seeing: A lot of denial amongst white community not just of existence of anti-black racism, but of severity. Taken an event extreme as this to demonstrate that this is real, and runs deep. And that it is not only historical but growing, and current. Many white people choose to react to tragedy by choosing denial about problem and severity in problem. A lot of resentment of gains of black community in terms of organizing, seeing local white run media consistency invalidating black leadership here, discrediting most of what black leaders say. Lots of backlash. Civil disobedience a couple of weeks ago, blatant backlash in terms of vigilantes showing up at participants house with nooses, vitriol we saw in comments section on action.


Ultimately what we are seeing is a large number of folks in white community here deny resistance of systemic racism, or see it as theoretical not related to everyday waters. Deep seated fear of black people.


Work we've been doing to counter: counter media narratives that there's nothing going on here and that no one is responding. When Walter Scott was killed, there were protests next day, narrative that everything just died down, change not going to happen. Countering narrative, trying to do education and getting more folks on same page about what is actually happening and where this comes from, moving folks from thinking and talking to doing something. Civil disobedience shut down Ravennel Bridge, large commuter bridge and tourism symbol. Currently organizing march for black lives, happening tomorrow. Not doing as lone wolf white folks, working with poc organizes in Charleston.


As white people in an old southern town that has been such a big layer in history of U.S., encouraging folks to take bold risks, take mask off ugly reality that we are facing.


Main thing that we are planning in march for black lives. Challenges: level of ideological hatred in white community.


Jillian Brandi, SONG: Statewide regional and national level: regional folks have done research of white right wing talk show, man who killed folks not acting on his own, these ideologies come from somewhere. What can we do as a nation to go against right wing narrative and white supremacy?


One way to call into radio talk show and really shift what they are talking about on a daily basis. For more info on calling campaign, see SONG website released a call to action around calling in to right wing talk shows, talking points, shift narrative.


Also trying to put Governor Haley on blast. At event today, cried and said massacre was not about race, we really need to shift that narrative. Need this to shift--which side is she on? Blast on twitter. Related in organizing twitter and social media powerful resource on shifting narrative.

Southerners on New Ground website.


Paul Garbarini, SURJ Charleston:  Live in high rise, and out window can see AME Church, constantly in skyline. Black community here is reeling. White people feeling sympathy and empthy. Fear is that when national media goes away, everyone will be satisfied. Confederate flag on statehouse grounds. Lot of support for removing flag.

Beginning of conversation to change street from Calhoun street, after John C. Calhoun, whose statue sits a block away from AME.


SURJ in Charleston is fresh. Exactly two meetings. One last night--abbreviated  to what actions we can take this weekend. Yesterday there were at least there gatherings, prayer healing services. There is another prayer vigil that just needed that was sponsored by the city of Charleston. Tomorrow SURJ Charleston will be with SONG in march for Black Lives.


Engaging other white people has been encouraging. Just in outreach work to get people to march tomorrow, very encouraged. Nothing specifically planned for Sunday at 6pm. Will spread word here.


Dara Silverman--SURJ was founded in 2009, in large part when Obama came into office, there was a rise in the Christian right, increase in attacks on people of color across the country. Needed: more white people speaking up and showing up. We need there to be white people taking this on and organizing other white people. Founding: framework of accountability. Meta to speak with us about messaging.


Meta Mendel-Reyes, SURJ: Three key points that you can use when you are talking to other white people.

-- White supremacy exists- This was a planned attack on a black church, murder and genocide are central strategies of white supremacy and the racist system we live in.


--  Dylann Roof is not just one extremist, he was created and shaped by the same racist society that teaches all white people to hate and fear Black people. Dylan was taught his beliefs. The language he was using was the language of the white power movement and right wing talk radio. He wanted to start a race war.


-- Emphasize the importance of lifting up lives and humanity of black people, black women and girls. It is not our Our job to police black people and the black response to this hateful action. There is a lot of fear and anger and trauma that is coming out right now and we need to let that happen.


-- Now is the time to take action, to take collective responsibility for organizing white communities and calling white people in. Undoing institutional racism is our job. We need to figure out how to take this racist system down. What do we want our legacy to be?


-- For the social media, please use the follow hashtags:

#AMEMassacre #StandwithCharleston #EndWhiteSupremacy


Dara Silverman: SURJ Actions:

1. Call for widespread actions on Sunday night at 6pm. Across the country. Go to Ferguson Response Tumblr to check in and see where there is an action near you.


Actions happening right now: San Diego, Seattle, Chicago, New York. Prayer vigils and highways and at churches synagogues and mosques. Call has been put out to do these actions at 6:00pm on Sunday.


As white people, our role at actions are to call people in, to bring other white people into these actions. If someone shows up with All Lives Matter signs, great role for white people: engage other white people find out why they are there.


2. Write letters to editor, push message out publically that white people have been terrorizing people since founding of country.


3. Door knocking campaign. White people have been getting together in groups and door knocking with other white people to engage white communities in conversation about race, to ask folks to put BLM year signs up in their houses.


Breakout Groups by Region

Questions: Name, Location, What action/s are you moved to take?


Action Surveys:

1. Press 1 if you will donate to the Mother Hope Fund.

2. Press 1 if you will attend or help organize a rally in your area.

3. Press 3 if you will go door knocking in your community with Black Lives Matter signs.


SURJ Call on Organizing from a Place of Mutual Interest is Tuesday, June 23rd, 5pm PT/8pm ET. Actions this Sunday at 6pm all over country. Check out SURJ Facebook for more info. See you in the streets.