It’s On Us

Dear Austinites,

Two weeks ago Donald Trump was declared president elect of the U.S. after winning the votes of 60,375,961 Americans. Throughout his campaign, he continuously championed racist, misogynistic, xenophobic and pro-hate views and he is on course to enact many of these views into law and policy.

While we at Undoing White Supremacy Austin (former the “Undoing Racism Austin White Caucus”) are still in shock and are numb with grief, we can’t say that we are all that surprised. We understand that White Supremacy is baked into the very foundation of this country and that it has been a core element of every fight for justice the country has undergone throughout its history.

What is equally clear is that it is on “white” community members to step up both defensively and proactively. People of color, Muslims, immigrants (documented, undocumented and refugees), LGBTQ folks, the disabled and vulnerable are all justifiably terrified about what the Trump administration has in store for them and their families as well as how fellow citizens will continue to be empowered to commit more hate crimes and abuse. As “white” people we must stand in defense of everyone who will bear the brunt of the Trump administration and say, “If you’re coming for them, you must come for me first.”

We must organize among our “white” families and in “white” communities to dismantle White Supremacy while working in collaboration with people of color-led groups in the city towards social justice and racial equity in our community’s policies and institutions.

We are not 100% clear about all our strategies yet and that’s okay. We at UWSA are very grateful that we have had two years of working together. During this period, we have been deepening our relationships, building skills and leadership, and trying out different strategies and tactics. So we aren’t starting from scratch. Going forward, we will continue to learn as we build. It may be scary and confusing at times, but we have a wealth of knowledge to learn from those in this nation and in other countries who have resisted. It will be hard — at times meandering, at other times frustrating — but it will also be joyful and fun. Together we will shed the baggage we carry as a legacy of White Supremacy and build relations of love and solidarity with folks we work with side by side.

If you are interested in doing this work with us, please join us. Feel free to share this message with anyone you know who would be interested in helping out. There are two upcoming opportunities to get acquainted with UWSA, its core agreements and principles, and its work in progress:

6:30 pm, Wednesday, November 30
Wildflower UU Church (Faith Presbyterian)
Classroom
1314 E Oltorf St, Austin, TX 78704
1 pm, Saturday, December 10
Wildflower UU Church (Faith Presbyterian)
Community meeting room
1314 E Oltorf St, Austin, TX 78704

If you have already attended an orientation, or attended one or more of our “community dialogues” earlier in the year and would like to work on the organizing team of UWSA, you can attend our monthly business meeting, which is held on the third Monday of each month, in the community meeting room of the Wildflower UU Church (Faith Presbyterian), 1314 E Oltorf St, Austin, TX 78704.

Peace and Justice,

Organizers
Undoing White Supremacy Austin

White People to Demonstrate for Black Lives, Call for Police Accountability

Following Recent Brutal Murders of Black People By Police,

White People Locally and Across the Country Call for Changes to Policing

AUSTIN, TX — On Thursday, July 21st at 7:15 AM, the people across Austin will march to End Police Violence as part of a national day of action calling for @FreedomNow from state sanctioned violence against Black and Brown People.  The Austin chapter of Showing Up for Racial Justice along with representatives of many local groups will march from the Victory Grill 1104 E 11th Street to disrupt business as usual for those who allow this violence to continue.

Following the murder of David Joseph in Austin on February 8, 2016, and the recent murders of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Philando Castile in the St. Paul area, Delrawn Small in New York City and other Black people in the last two weeks, White people across the country have been moved to take action in resistance to police violence. 

We’re calling for the transformation of policing in our society, to re-center its purpose and implementation, so that Black people are no longer tortured, brutalized and murdered by police,” said LOCAL LEADER, an organizer of SURJ-Austin.  

The community is calling on Mayor Steve Adler, City Manager Marc Ott and Police Chief Art Acevedo to commit to clear, concrete steps to reduce state violence against Black people in Austin, and a broader transformation of policing in the US, so that it no longer serves as an agent of anti-Black oppression. 

“For centuries, police killings of unarmed Black people have been condoned by our society and our elected officials. This must end.”  

We’re taking action in solidarity with Movement for Black Lives organizers who are occupying, demonstrating, marching and chanting for a new future – a future in which they can be free. Free from state-sanctioned violence and oppression. Free to be themselves. We echo their call for #FreedomNow,” said SURJ-Austin

Details for Thursday’s action are as follows:
Who: Showing Up for Racial Justice – Austin
What: Local participation in national day of action calling for an end to anti-Black police violence, in support of Movement for Black Lives #FreedomNow demonstrations
When: Thursday, July 21st, 7:15AM
Where: Starting at the Victory Grill, 1104 E. 11th Street, Austin TX 78702
Why: It is vital for White people to visibly and loudly demonstrate that we condemn the police violence that has become a daily reality for people of color. These actions are meant to not only hold the Austin Police Department and national policing organizations accountable for that violence, but also to call on police officers to condemn and work to end the murders of Black people.
Visuals:  There will be dynamic and engaging visual props, as well as drums, pots and pans and other noisemakers to accompany the call to wake up. 

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Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) is a national network of groups and individuals organizing White people for racial justice. Through community organizing, mobilizing, and education, SURJ moves White people to act as part of a multi-racial majority for justice with passion and accountability. We work to connect people across the country while supporting and collaborating with local and national racial justice organizing efforts. SURJ provides a space to build relationships, skills and political analysis to act for change.

April 8, 2015 Letter to the Austin Chronicle

Is it the method or the message? Michael King’s “Point Austin Firestarter; If you want to attack institutional racism, you might pick an actual target” critiques the tactic of posting “Exclusively for White People” stickers on East Austin businesses,  while failing to engage with the real problems of Austin’s systemic racism. By denouncing the stickers and their creator (with cute but minimizing titles like Lawyer Looney Youtube and Pantsless Pundit), King distracts us from the significant issues they raised. Gentrifying businesses in East Austin, as well as the Austin Chronicle, are legitimate objects of scrutiny  as we work to deconstruct racism in Austin.

In its pursuit to be the heart of hip, white Austin culture, the Austin Chronicle can be counted on for slick, trendy journalism aimed at a mostly White audience. When will the Chronicle go deeper than criticizing a tactic, and write about the concrete consequences of racism in Austin and how racism can be undone?

How about an article on Mamas of Color Rising’s work to change conditions that make an educated, employed African-American pregnant woman in Austin twice as likely as a teen-aged, single, white pregnant woman to lose her baby? Or one on Angela Ward’s efforts to challenge discretionary discipline practices in AISD that shovel children of color into the school-to-prison pipeline, while mandatory discipline statistics show that white children are more likely to misbehave? We would like to see an article in these pages on the cultural underpinnings of the declining Austin African-American population while SXSW and Austin City Limits attract new white residents in droves. Publish stories that take your readers beyond the latest coffee shop and music scenes into the lives of Austin’s historic Black and Latino communities.

The White Caucus of Undoing Racism Austin

Statement in Solidarity with Jumpolín

An Open Letter to the City of Austin 

Submitted by the White Caucus of Undoing Racism Austin in Solidarity with People of Color in Austin, Texas

March 20, 2015 

We are the White caucus of Undoing Racism Austin, a group of Austin residents committed to leveraging our time, energy and resources to address the ongoing impact of racism in our community.  Our purpose is to hold city representatives accountable for ensuring the safety and well-being of all communities in Austin.  Part of the continued legacy of race relations in Austin is one of White people displacing Black and Brown communities in the name of economic development.  Long time Austinites are familiar with the 1928 Master Plan that mandated a racially divided city with East Austin being the only place People of Color were allowed to live.  This city planning decision created a segregated city – an unjust city – that disproportionately impacts communities of Color today.  

One of the most recent cases, the illegal demolition of Jumpolín on February 12, 2015, a family owned piñata store formerly located at 4101 E. Cesar Chavez, serves as a microcosm of the gentrification that sustains the racism of our city. 1  It is no exaggeration to say that the harassment and humiliation experienced by Monica and Sergio Lejarazu is indicative of the entitlement that the new White owners felt they had to remove the tenants by intimidation, threat and in the end, force.  As White members of Undoing Racism Austin, we are committed to following the lead of People of Color.  We stand in solidarity with the Black and Latino communities most impacted by violent patterns of gentrification in Austin. We uphold the demands made by the joint statement released by PODER, Raza Roundtable, Resistencia, NAACP and Equilibrio. 2

Predominantly White and wealthy people are moving into the city at unprecedented rates and communities of Color are being forced out.  Recent research has found that Austin, one of the top ten fastest growing cities in the United States, is the only one with a declining Black population. 3  Dr. Tane Ward speaks to how relatively small economic decisions add up to a pattern of oppression in our city: “Gentrification is an example of how capitalism and race work in tandem. When a developer flips a house, the new occupant needs no intention of displacing people to add to a larger pattern of displacement… People of Color are displaced, while white people move in, and as more and more white people move in, the public services increase.  No one has to hate anyone, or have any bad feelings. However, the outcome is racist because it recreates structural inequality along racial lines.” 5  As we grapple with the rapid growth of Austin it is crucial that we address the impact of ongoing racist gentrification.  Incentives to businesses and developers must be subordinate to the needs of our current residents, specifically low-income families of Color who are being ousted from their homes, businesses and communities.   

It is imperative for all of our public officials to engage directly in these issues by funding and participating in Undoing Racism trainings organized by Undoing Racism Austin and the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond.  These trainings are a transformative and necessary step to ensure city planning decisions are not done at the expense of some and for the profit of others.  We urge the City of Austin to prioritize the demands of residents who have been most left out of the conversation.  We must recognize the ongoing pattern of how segregation and gentrification disproportionately harm communities of Color.  It is possible to collaborate for a safer, more successful city in ways that do not displace low-income Black and Brown residents.  

As we highlight the impact of gentrification in our city, we honor the resistance and leadership perseverance of Black and Brown communities that struggle to survive in the face of displacement.  We call for active investment in the livelihoods of poor and People of Color communities by listening to the demands that have been made for decades – developing and implementing affordable housing policies, increasing access to quality education and healthcare, improving reliable public transportation and respecting the self-determination of existing communities of Color to thrive in Austin.

Signed,

Undoing Racism Austin White Caucus