The newly launched Columbus chapter of Showing Up for Racial Justice wants to do whatever it can to promote that concept.
SURJ attempts to move white people to act as part of a multi-racial majority for justice with passion and accountability, according to its national website at showingupforracialjustice.org.
The local chapter is awaiting official recognition by the national organization. About 20 people attended the local group’s first meeting, although more than that are on the mailing list.
California native and Columbus resident Amoret Heise said she began the local group because of various influences. One was the local African American Pastors Alliance’s three-day race relations event in Columbus in August 2015. Another impetus was the white officer police shootings of black men this summer nationwide.
“I’ve become aware of some things related to racial justice only in the last few years,” Heise said.
For example, her reading turned up the fact that the Social Security Act of 1935 originally excluded farm and domestic workers, many of whom were black.
“We want to be careful,” Heise said. “We are not saying there never are disadvantaged white people.”
The national group’s mission is a broad one.
“We work to connect people across the country while supporting and collaborating with local and national racial justice organizing efforts,” the website reads. “SURJ provides a space to build relationships, skills and political analysis to act for change. We envision a society where we struggle together with love, for justice, human dignity and a sustainable world.”
Heise mentioned that her personal sense of compassion and justice can be traced partly to her grandmother, who often traveled in Latin America and helped struggling people learn to read.
While there is no direct connection between the local Showing Up for Racial Justice and Black Lives Matter chapters, the two worked together in an open discussion of the film “The Color of Fear,” a dialogue about the state of race relations in America, shown Oct. 7 at the Columbus Learning Center.
Heise said the groups may collaborate again.
The next meeting of the Columbus chapter of Showing Up for Racial Justice will be at 7 p.m. Nov. 16 at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbus, 7850 W. Goeller Boulevard.