About Us & Our Work
In 2017, SURJ SF started Dialogues, facilitating interactive events exploring race, white supremacy, identity, privilege, and community. Dialogues exists for the purpose of strengthening our anti-racist practice and action for racial justice.
One of the things that makes this space a community is that we are not experts, but companions in a movement that is bigger than ourselves. We all bring our own backgrounds and experiences to this conversation. We want to create a space where that experience — the successes, the failures, the lessons learned, the anxieties — can all be shared to make each of us more impactful in our own work.
What does an event look like? How do Dialogues work?
We do not see Dialogues itself as “the work” but rather a support and growing space as we take action for racial justice and work toward personal and collective liberation. In order to challenge racism and dismantle white supremacy, we need to unlearn racism and discover the ways we internalize and enact our privilege. This can be a long, difficult, and sometimes painful process.
It’s helpful to have a community with others engaged in this process that can support and challenge us as we grow together and stay in the work for the long haul. A typical event agenda looks like this:
Welcome to participants
Reading the brave space agreements: Brave Space Agreements from AWARELA
Intro to day’s topic
Announcement of beneficiary (proceeds from Dialogues benefit BIPOC organizations)
2-3 break out groups where participants can become acquainted with each other, and then later discuss the day’s topic. These break out groups, of usually 3-6 participants, may engage in various activities related to the topic.
Final large group check-out
“Ask it basket:" we allow participants to ask questions in order to get support for their anti-racist work. We ask participants to put questions into a (digital) basket and open the discussion to the larger group. Questions can been posed both anonymously or not, depending on the topic.
Co-viewing or co-listening to talks about white supremacy, racism, or anti racism work, with discussion in break out groups
Journaling in order to organize thoughts to share with break-out group.
We use agreements to establish a foundation for our events and set communal expectations. We frequently use the following resources to do this:
Brave Space Agreements from AWARELA
Characteristics of white supremacy, From Dismantling Racism: A Workbook for Social Change Groups, by Kenneth Jones and Tema Okun
Some recent Dialogues topics have included (click arrow to expand):
What is Justice?
Making Empathy Actionable
White Supremacy Culture & You / The Characteristics of White Supremacy Culture
Recommitting to Racial Justice
Inviting Our Communities Into Racial Justice Work