Over the last few weeks, the Leadership Team has been 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. This is the final post in that series. Without further ado, meet Kathy:
After reading The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, I was looking for people with whom I could discuss and process the information and powerful insights that Alexander presents about racism in 21st century America. Alexander’s premise that to this day we live in a “racial caste system” in America was new and overwhelming to me (despite probably being a completely obvious fact of daily life to people of color!).
When I learned that La Crosse had a SURJ chapter, I joined and found that this was the place I had been looking for to have those conversations and begin to learn more — from fellow SURJ members, from our amazing accountability partners and other people of color and POC-led groups in the La Crosse area, and from the many teachers and activists from around the state and country who visit our community to speak about these crucial issues.
The question remains, what do I do with this information, and the still overwhelming feeling that racism is so deeply embedded in, even foundational to, our society and our individual identities and thought processes? Part of the answer for me begins with just participating in the group, not remaining isolated, working with others to gain inspiration, to be held accountable, to collaborate and create a synergy that produces better thinking and better outcomes than any one person could. I am hopeful that through the ongoing conversations and developing relationships, both within SURJ and throughout the community as a whole, more answers will emerge.
I encourage anyone who feels drawn to addressing these issues to join our SURJ chapter, attend a meeting or event, and see what may emerge for you!
Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow – this book gave me a whole new perspective on systemic racism and led me to think more about my place and complicity in the system.
James Baldwin’s Nobody Knows My Name and The Fire Next Time – I love Baldwin’s writing, it is a clear, compelling testimony and indictment of racial oppression in America. Tellingly, and painfully, these works written in the early 1960s feel as though they could have been written yesterday.
2 Dope Queens – a podcast tackling issues of race, gender identity and sexuality through comedy and storytelling provides laughter, education and inspiration! https://www.wnycstudios.org/shows/dopequeens