If you missed it, here's a video of a recent panel discussion about the state of race relations with SURJ NCSD included.
One of our SURJ NC members, Christie Turner, shared this very helpful article which addresses how to talk to folks about offensive comments, microaggressions, and statements that reflect living in the white supremacy culture. This perspective is Buddhist, and the guidance is universally applicable.
Read the article.
About the Author
Dr. David Campt (@thedialogueguy) is the founder of the Dialogue Company and the White Ally Toolkit. He teaches online courses and in-person workshops that prepare white allies to more effectively dismantle the racism that emerges in conversations with other white people.
By Erin Heaney, SURJ National Director
Since the founding of this country, scapegoating people of color has been the strategy of choice for those in power to maintain an inhumane economic system and enrich themselves.
These times are no different. Trump and those in power with the most to lose are scapegoating people of color to deflect blame for their disastrous handling of the Covid-19 crisis. And too many white people still support Trump and his policies.
We know that winning persuadable white voters requires an electoral strategy that inoculates white people to the racist scapegoating - a strategy that talks about race and the economy. SURJ will be using this approach with white voters in Pennsylvania and Georgia this year - two critical battleground states. Will you make a gift to ensure we can intervene in majority-white communities to move more white voters to redirect the blame to Trump? (Your gift here will be split with Asian American & Pacific Islanders for Civic Empowerment.)
Strategic racism is at the core of Trump’s re-election campaign and policies that endanger poor and working class communities, people of color, and immigrants.
Like all racist strategies, blaming Asian people for structural problems in the United States is a centuries-old tactic. In the 19th Century, settlers traveled to the Western parts of the continent after the government incentivized uprooting their families by promising land and riches. When these promises didn’t materialize, Chinese immigrants, who were hired as cheap labor to work on the railroads, were blamed. Those in power were able to avoid responsibility and turn white settlers against Chinese laborers by relying on racist, xenophobic stereotypes. Racist propaganda portrayed Chinese people as dangerous foreigners: their cultural food was barbaric, they were plotting to take over the world, and they simply were un-American.
Trump and his allies are reviving this story and pushing racist narratives. It’s important that we show up in solidarity with those most impacted and do the work in our own communities to redirect blame to those at the top.
Click here to get SURJ’s Combating Anti-Asian Racism and Covid-19 Toolkit. It will support you in speaking up to interrupt anti-Asian racism and direct you to concrete actions to be in solidarity with communities targeted in this moment. In it you’ll learn more about AAPIs for Civic Empowerment’s work in educating and mobilizing low-propensity AAPI voters through multilingual and multicultural direct voter outreach.
By Robin Sales
Reflections on event: CULTIVATING NEW DIALOGUE ABOUT RACE AND RACIAL BIAS
March 7, 2020 at SDSU sponsored by the Community Based Block Program
Keynote: Ibram X. Kendi, PhD
Award winning author and founder of The Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University.
Books: Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, and How to Be an Antiracist
Wow! I was so honored to be able to attend this forum last Saturday. While I was somewhat fearful of being in a public space in the age of the coronavirus, I conquered my fears so that I could hear Dr. Kendi and an amazing panel of San Diego experts on race and ethnicity, including our own Blair Overstreet, SURJ San Diego founder.
But first, two spoken word artists, Shelley Bruce and Ronald Williams shared beautiful and heart wrenching poetry and rap. This got the crowd excited and really thinking about the trauma of being a POC in this country.
Dr. Kendi spoke brilliantly about how everyone thinks they are not racist! He defined racism as “the denial of one’s own racism” saying that “the heartbeat of racism is denial”. He went on to say that someone who is an antiracist admits their racism and that that is the road to antiracism. It takes constant self-reflection and self-criticism and confession to walk the path.
He pointed out that racism is based on a superior/inferior belief about another group. Something is wrong with them; and the superior group is trained not to disconnect the individual from the group. The white supremacist culture says, “Your culture is pathological” and therefore “You must assimilate into the white culture”. The goal is to make all people become white. You might have heard the saying, “Kill the Indian, save the man” which is a great example of how white culture treated our indigenous peoples. Even the progressives and the liberals in our history wanted assimilation, while the others wanted only segregation.
Dr. Kendi used the example of the SAT test preparation industry to illustrate how the “other test takers” are deficient, rather than the racist policy that gives every advantage to privileged students. His pronouncement is that there is “Nothing wrong with the people and everything wrong with the policy” which we at SURJ NC have been exploring through our various speakers this past year.
He also used the example of “unintelligent self-interest” to describe how the white supremacy culture instituted mass incarceration policies in California that disproportionately affect POC to the detriment of higher education which has the ability to lift everyone up.
Dr. Kendi ended with the statement, “There is nothing wrong with the people, and everything wrong with the policy”.
Following his presentation and a very lively Q & A, a panel of local educators and activists were asked questions by the moderators. They were: Khalid Alexander, Pillars of the Community, Marwa Abdalla, independent researcher on the Muslim identity in socio-political discourse, Nellie Tran, Associate Professor at SDSU Multicultural Community Counseling Program , Blair Overstreet, activist and founder of SURJ San Diego, and Dr. Kendi. Some of the areas covered were microaggressions and internalized racism, and implicit bias. There was a consensus that these terms are a way for white people to relieve themselves of responsibility for their behavior.
This was an afternoon well spent and it was great to see so many San Diegans wanting to understand more about how to be antiracist.
By Robin Genat
Although I had to miss the meeting last night, my husband and I watched (for the 2nd time) the award winning documentary, 13th, still streaming on Netflix.
Directed by Ava DuVernay, the film explores every issue presented by Dave Myers regarding the problems in our criminal justice system as well as the historical context of how we got here..
I would like to think that everyone has seen this film! If not, get to it!
By Betsy Gilpin
Just Mercy, co-written and directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, chronicles the efforts of idealistic young lawyer, Bryan Stevenson, to free a black man, Walter McMillan, wrongly convicted for the murder of a white girl in Alabama. Yes, viewing it is heavy sledding, but hope shines through. The acting is superb. The role of Stevenson is played by Michael B. Jordon and that of McMillan by Jamie Foxx. The supporting cast was excellent as well.
I had read the book, a memoir of the same title, and while the book described lawyer Stevenson’s efforts on behalf of a number of wrongly convicted people, the movie focuses in on the case of Walter McMillan. Stevenson’s strong character in the face of racial harassment and his dedication to his work reveal a well-developed sense of moral responsibility that propels him in his pursuit of justice. For that alone, this movie is a true inspiration.
Both the book and the movie present a clear picture of the injustice prevalent in the legal system in Alabama and throughout the south. While the story begins in 1989 and extends through the mid 1990s, it is unlikely that things have changed much. One startling fact presented is that one out of nine people on death row is found innocent either pre or post execution.
The Movie Database does not rate the movie highly. Perhaps the subject is just too disturbing for those doing the reviews. White fragility, anyone? Similarly, the Academy Awards nominations ignore it entirely, which is ironic since there was abundant criticism that no persons of color garnered nominations. In my view, it warranted several nominations, in particular for Jamie Foxx. You could read clearly in his face the fear and frustrations experienced during McMillan’s ordeal.
Please do go see this movie. It is key in educating ourselves about the injustices faced in our legal system, particularly by persons of color. Do bring a hanky, but you will be gripped by the events depicted in the film, and come away with a keen appreciation of the work being done by people such as Bryan Stevenson and his colleagues.