Political education is the collective process of study, research, analysis, and storytelling that helps us understand our situation and what we’re up against and what we can do about it. The purpose of political education is to build a shared language about our situation, a shared framework for understanding our situation, and a shared understanding of our history so we can better understand how we got here and what we can learn from those who went before us. We engage in political education to sharpen our skills in taking action for movement building for solidarity and social justice.
We need political education because we are swimming in a sea of misdirection and misinformation provided to us on a regular basis by the broader culture. We are, for example, consistently taught that racism is a thing of the past, that we live in a post-racial world, and that any racism that does exist is simply a reflection of a few misguided individuals. We are taught not to see the ways in which institutional and cultural racism impact all of us every day, including the policies, practices, and cultural beliefs that systematically target People of Color while benefitting white people and groups (at great cost to individual and collective humanity). If we want a more just world for all of us, and we do, then we need to develop the habits and skills that make it possible for us to see what’s really going on and to vision a different way.
SURJ has a goal of mobilizing 7 million white people to show up for racial justice. We do political education with each other in service of this goal, to support better understanding of why we’re in the mess we’re in, as well as how we’re going to move steadily and surely forward with a focus on racial justice and its intersection with all forms of liberation and justice.
We are also responding to Black peoples’ longstanding call for white people, in large numbers, to talk, study and take action with each other so we can confront white supremacy in our workplaces, schools, with our families and throughout our lives.
Learning in community makes our movements strong. We train up, so we can show up!