Poor and Working Class Whites In Solidarity with Black Lives Matter Minneapolis

The poor and working class working group of SURJ declares our solidarity with the Black Lives Matter activists in Minneapolis. We know that racist vigilantes and the police force have a long, collaborative history with one another. The painful irony of Black Lives Matter demonstrators who are demanding answers to Jamar Clark’s death being attacked by white supremacists does not escape us. We wish for quick recovery to those injured and continue to push for the release of the video footage of Jamar Clark’s shooting.

For far too long, poor and working class white people and people of color have been pitted against each other to further the interests of the wealthy. We, as white poor, welfare, and working class people acknowledge a legacy of aligning ourselves with ruling whites and whiteness in the misguided hope for better opportunities and economic security. The lie of white superiority, and the bait of greater security and meager rewards in exchange for our complicity and silence has brought the wealthy much success and us greater isolation. 

The success of this manipulation, has led to hundreds of years of racist hate, violence, the betrayal of people of color, and the dehumanization of ourselves. We have the opportunity and responsibility to fight back against this legacy and to clearly position ourselves against a system that pits communities against each other, undermines our capacity to organise for our joint liberation, and destroys our wholeness in the process.

The Right is actively working to leverage white privilege and position poor and working class communities against one another -- scapegoating immigrants, demonizing Brown and Black people as criminals and a threat to white people’s jobs. Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant and anti-Black rhetoric is a symptom of a much larger racist system at work, yet we know that when he says the Black Lives Matter demonstrators who challenged him deserved to be roughed up, those words have impact. We are seeing his violent, racist narrative echoed by biased media, pushing the political debate further to the right, and seeking to convince working class and poor whites that Black and Brown communities are our enemies and the fundamental cause of our struggles. The Right is targeting our families and our communities, preying on fear, vulnerability and scarcity to mobilize us against our Black and Brown neighbours.  With all of our power, drawing on the strength of white working class and poor people before us who fought for racial justice, we reject this.

We commit to organizing other poor and working class whites in the movement for racial justice. We believe that the fight for racial justice can and must include struggles for economic justice. We know that white poor and working class communities are specifically vulnerable to the Right’s propaganda, and that when atrocious acts such as what happened in Minneapolis occur, it is a terrifying reminder of how far we are from justice. We join the long legacy of powerful organizers who have called for white people to dismantle white supremacy, reject the race bribe, and align themselves with racial justice.

Jes Kelley, Aaron Ambrose, Sebastian Margaret, Ben Laughlin, Sam Hamlin of the SURJ Poor, Welfare, and Working Class Working Group.

Poor, welfare, and working class white people--please join us by signing this statement of solidarity and commitment to organizing our communities for racial justice. Click here to sign.