(CBS)- Across the country, people are asking what they can do to help in the fight against racism and racial injustice. In the days after George Floyd’s death, multiracial crowds poured into streets around the nation in protest of social injustice. Erin Heaney understands the outrage. “There’s no such thing as not racist. We need you to be anti-racist,” she says.
She’s the director of Showing up for Racial Justice, also known as SURJ, a multiracial activist organization committed to the fight against racism. SURJ focuses on “calling in” White people to support racial justice and works in alliance with Black and people of color-led organizations. “I think it’s really important that all of the work for racial justice is grounded in the vision of Black leaders in this country. And we know that white silence is one of the greatest barriers to winning that transformative vision that folks have set,” Heaney says.
With 125 chapters across the country and world, SURJ is predominantly led by White people who are having hard conversations with other White people about race and injustice. “Racism isn’t a Black issue, it’s a White issue. We need to be organizing amongst ourselves to do the internal work,” says Adam Smith, an organizer for the Los Angeles SURJ chapter called White People 4 Black Lives.
In addition to political activism, the group helps host monthly dialogues and an annual Unmasking Whiteness Institute. “For White folks, it’s important for us to think of this fight as a as a fight in solidarity, right? Solidarity not charity,” Smith says.
Both Heaney and Smith say they’re working to channel people’s feelings of “I just want to do something” into useful action, and they’re hopeful this moment will continue to fuel a movement for lasting change.
SURJ has been in existence for 10 years. If you want to learn more about the organization’s work you can go to their website.