Over the next few weeks, the Leadership Team will be sharing brief introductions to our work with SURJ, along with a resource (or several!) that we have found helpful along the way, or would recommend to folks new to racial justice work. Without further ado, meet Monica:
New to La Crosse in 2014, I was uncertain if this community was the right fit for me. I had discovered SURJ national while researching online and heard good things about them from activist friends in other parts of the country. I was disappointed there was not a local chapter in La Crosse and felt unsure how I would be able to start a group when I didn’t know anyone here. I felt disempowered, anxious, and ill-equipped to do much on my own.
I started getting involved in La Crosse grassroots organizing in the 2016 primaries, which led me to meeting many incredible people, some of whom became my best friends. Through those relationships, I was connected to other local people working for racial justice, and when I heard about a meeting to discuss starting a SURJ chapter, I was excited to attend. After that meeting, I started hosting meetings, and I felt increasingly convinced that this values-based manner of organizing for change was the kind of work I was meant to do.
Our chapter has grown, shrunk, shifted, and grown again, with relationships deepening and trust in our community building. I continue to learn more and more about white supremacy and its relationship to patriarchy, imperialism, and capitalism, and I am grateful to be part of this emergent collective of conscious beings working together for liberation.
Most resonant influences:
- Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment by Patricia Hill Collins (dense academic book: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/353598.Black_Feminist_Thought)
- Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds by adrienne maree brown (more accessible book: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29633913-emergent-strategy)
- Decolonising the Mind: the Politics of Language in African Literature by Ngugi wa Thiongo (academic but short book/long essay: https://archive.org/details/DecolonisingTheMind)
- Killing the Black Body with Dorothy Roberts (podcast about her book: https://www.blubrry.com/thedig/30414873/killing-the-black-body-with-dorothy-roberts/)
- Revisiting Racecraft with Barbara and Karen Fields (podcast about their book: https://www.blubrry.com/thedig/29579310/revisiting-racecraft-with-barbara-and-karen-fields/)
- A History of Human Caging with Kelly Lytle Hernandez (podcast: https://www.blubrry.com/jacobin/28950077/the-dig-a-history-of-human-caging-with-kelly-lytle-hernndez/)
- Marxist Feminism: The Struggle Against Capitalist Patriarchal Hegemony (podcast: https://revolutionaryleftradio.libsyn.com/marxist-feminism)
- Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics by bell hooks (book: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/168484.Feminism_is_for_Everybody)
- The work of Winona LaDuke (video, Winona starts speaking at 3:30: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NEsI4czZBSw)
- Works from Lila June (music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nr2VLI8jKww and writing: https://whiteawake.org/2017/01/05/the-vast-and-beautiful-world-of-indigenous-europe/)
- White Awake: Waking ourselves for the benefit of all (mega resource: https://whiteawake.org/self-education/themes-and-resources/)
- Reconnecting with the land and traditional ecological knowledge (environmental experiences)
- All the friends and teachers who have been willing to be patient with me along the way as I continue to fumble and learn (personal experiences)
- My informal and formal education in high school, undergraduate, graduate school, and studying a summer in Buenos Aires, Argentina (academic experiences)
- My career as a Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner working intimately with people from all walks of life in their times of suffering and resilience in the face of violence and oppression (professional experiences)