Because there are many approaches to this work, and because the membership of SURJ Nashville brings with it many varied gifts, we believe that a differentiated approach to action is the best way to mobilize our skill sets and activate the networks we represent. This includes three overarching buckets of work: 1) education, 2) cultural organizing, and 3) direct action. These buckets are defined below.
1. Education – create a shared language, build skills, and consciousness raising. This bucket speaks to the following strategic priorities: 1) SURJ Nashville has a clear power analysis of white supremacy/patriarchy in action in Nashville and 2) SURJ Nashville leaders and Steering Committee members and general members have stronger interpersonal ties between/amongst them. Education is an opportunity to keep listening and learning while building relationships. The education bucket of SURJ Nashville’s work includes events, consciousness-raising activities, and social gatherings.
2. Cultural Organizing – identify and interrupt oppressive symbols and narratives, and create and uplift alternatives. This bucket speaks to an approach to organizing that resonates deeply in a town like Nashville that is full of so many artists and musicians; it also stems from the work of the Arts and Culture Working Group that has been plugging away on projects that seek to shift power through the strategic use of arts and culture. Cultural Organizing is where art and culture meet activism work. This bucket also includes the work of the SURJ Faith Working Group, which trains people of faith to disrupt white supremacy in religious spaces and organize their faith communities to support POC-led campaigns.
3. Direct Action & Outreach – build a broader base of activated white people, and connect people to long-term organizing work in Nashville, either pre-existing or emerging. This bucket speaks to the following strategic priority: SURJ Nashville has clear accountability to POC-led groups in Nashville. This work will be two-pronged: 1) outreach to white communities, especially working-class white communities in order to build cross-class membership and move toward working-class leadership and 2) building capacity of white people to engage in POC-led, multiracial movements for justice.
The differentiated approach accounts for the many skills and ideas we, as an organization, bring to the table. It also gives opportunities for distributed leadership; we imagine that different people will plug in where they feel comfortable, eager, and empowered. We ask you to bring your good thinking, strong desire for change, and spirit of sacrifice to the work of SURJ Nashville.