April Update

Greetings Iowa City Showing Up for Racial Justice,

At our most recent public gathering on April 9th in ICPL, room A, our time together included:

  • Bystander intervention training, and practice for difficult conversations
  • A conversation regarding how DiDi Delgado’s strongly-worded critique of SURJ is very informative orientation on accountability, along with this powerfully instructive response from Erryn Brook, and a response from the San Francisco SURJ Chapter, regarding the heat that #BlackLivesMatter Philly has been receiving for wanting to have their meeting spaces only for people of color.
  • We decided on a T-shirt design for greater visibility. This will help us be more identifiable when we appear at events, and as a conversation-starter.
  • A discussion of how best to support UI Student and Dog-trainer Chelsey Montgomery after her incident with PetCo, and its aftermath.
  • Several announcements of upcoming events:
    • Dream Center 5-year Anniversary Fundraiser: Apr 15 10 am at The Dream Center
    • Art of Peace in South Sudan: 5-8 pm at Robert A Lee Rec Center
    • The IC Council will discuss two memos regarding ICPD Strategy on Disproportionate Minority Contact, and Addressing Racial Disparities on Tuesday April 18th at 5pm. (Info here and here.)
    • Midwest Telegraph benefit dinner April 29, 6:30-8:30 pm at Beadology
    • White Privilege Conference Apr 27-30 in KC
    • May 1st Large Scale Protests M4BL and BtM. The Eastern IA Center for Worker Justice may be organizing an event.

Upcoming meetings include our next leadership/planning meeting on April 23rd from 4-6 pm.

And our next public meeting will be on May 7th at ICPL room A from 4-6 pm.

We’d love to see you there!

Iowa City SURJ strives to be a welcoming community, and aims to make our space open to your authentic self, however you identify. A note for people of color: One of the primary tasks of SURJ is to engage and activate people who do not have a lived experience as a target of racism. If you join us (and please do, if you want to), we’d like you to know that we’re committed to creating a space where you will not be asked to speak for or represent anyone but yourself and your experiences, at your own choosing. The efforts of our SURJ chapter are informed by people of color, with a variety of perspectives and beliefs, who have addressed white privilege, white fragility, “allyship,” and the impact of and strategies for dismantling individual and structural racism.

If assistance with transportation or child-care would be helpful for your attendance, please let us know by sending an email to [email protected].

Stronger together,

IC SURJ Leadership

The Showing-Up Rundown

Legislative Issues / Political Action:

The IA Justice Systems Appropriations Subcommittee has proposed their SFY18 budget, which unfortunately includes a proposed 26% cut in funding for victim services. They’re proposing $5 million in funding versus previous years’ $6.7 million. Women of color, and transgender women of color will be disproportionately affected by this. Info at https://www.facebook.com/IowaCADV/.

And there is currently a good-faith medical marijuana bill likely to pass the Iowa Senate, but facing strong resistance in the house: http://www.bleedingheartland.com/2017/04/12/broad-medical-cannabis-bill-moving-fast-in-iowa-senate/. Legal MMJ in Iowa would change the tenor of the drug war here, which New Jim Crow author Michelle Alexander singles out as one of the major thrusts of racial oppression in the US. Iowa has the highest rate of disproportionate arrests of people of color for marijuana possession, and Johnson County has one of the three highest rates in the state of Iowa!

What you can do:

  • Postcards and Letters to editor (Links to submit letters for the Des Moines Register, Cedar Rapids Gazette, Iowa City Press Citizen, Iowa Daily, and Little Village can be found here at our “Ways to Show Up” page.)
  • Make phone calls to your Iowa representatives: https://www.legis.iowa.gov/legislators/find.
  • We can organize field trips to legislators’ offices for in-person actions/asks/demands. Who from ICSURJ can travel to Des Moines when the need arises?


  • Center for Worker Justice are looking for volunteers to teach classes (art, music, etc) on Wednesdays during the Summer (June 14-Aug 2) and to donate supplies, such as art materials.
  • CWJ are continuing to push for a livable wage. To support them, please politely reach out directly to businesses, ask them if they support the county minimum wage ($10.10/hour). If yes,ask them if they will continue to pay NEW HIRES $10.10! If yes, contact CWJ so they can add that business to their list of businesses who will continue to pay the $10.10 wage. Businesses who are on the “good list” are encouraged to display the blue signs in their windows. Currently, there are 79 businesses who are keeping their wages at $10.10 for current employees and new hires. See list here: http://www.cwjiowa.org/moving-forward-local-businesses-who-have-comitted-to-10-10/.

Upcoming Trainings/Presentations/Discussion

  • Over the coming year, our newly-formed education facilitator team will be offering regular opportunities to uncover, deconstruct and dismantle white privilege, to process readings from MLK, to discuss a variety of opinion pieces and books, including Just Mercy, The New Jim Crow, Learning to Be White, and Between the World and Me. Check the IC SURJ calendar or future newsletters for updates.
  • Here is a brief synopsis of the book Learning to be White.

Organizing/Planning for Leadership

  • We encourage members to invite friends and colleagues to join our ICSURJ chapter, and we invite people who came to the earliest meetings to recommit to plugging in.
  • Our leadership team is looking for more people to join us, to offer input on direction as well as time and energy to aid ICSURJ to create more opportunities for learning and teaching each other, to grow more responsive to community needs, and more faithfully fulfill the callings of our mission.

Personal Development:

  • To become a stronger ally/accomplice/compeer with people of color, knowing your reasons and ways of showing up can be critical to your relationships and efforts. It’s important WHETHER you/we show up, but also:
  • HOW we show up - Attitudes, presentation, levels of being informed or sensitive, awareness of our privileges (when we’re operating within them, and how to counter that natural tendency), and humility
  • WHY we show up - Motivations are a critical factor for showing up well, and for remaining bold and resilient.
  • WHERE - Sometimes the presence of allies is critically needed, sometimes it’s just good to have the support, and there are also times where our presence is not desired, or we are asked to be present but not lead.
  • WHEN - We all have busy lives. We can’t all show up to every event we’re asked to, because of work, family, self-care, or another conflicting event. If each of us commits to showing up at a level that challenges us to our capacity, but also is sustainable, we can have a significant presence whenever we’re needed.
  • What are your primary motivations for showing up to do this work? How do your motivations influence the way you relate to others, and to the work?
  • How do you sustain yourself?

Are you a registered member of the SURJ national organization? Go here to register and support:

Safety Pin Box is a monthly subscription box for white people striving to be allies in the fight for Black Liberation. Box memberships are a way to not only financially support Black femme freedom fighters, but also complete measurable tasks in the fight against white supremacy. https://www.safetypinbox.com

And have you heard of Midwest Telegraph? (The purpose of Midwest Telegraph is to create a collaborative space for mid-westerners to move our best ideas to action.)

Movement for Black Lives are having webinars on building political power:

Many racial-justice related events coming up in the next month! Be sure to check the calendar at https://icsurj.org/events/.