By Christina Robinson and Elizabeth Humphries
In just one week three communities across this country faced terror and the loss of loved ones at the hands of white men armed with guns. Our hearts are heavy with sadness for those who are grieving and those who have been touched in other ways — like those who will never be able to attend the Gilroy Garlic Festival without remembering the terror that happened there. And because it can feel like any town, city, church, or festival could be next, we share the fear and trepidation of people throughout our country.
The shooter in El Paso left a manifesto stating that his violence was motivated by racism and xenophobia. Although our media reminds us that the motives of the other two shootings remain murky, there is an unmistakable pattern across the hundreds — hundreds — of mass shootings that have taken place in recent years. Violence motivated by white supremacy, antisemitism and xenophobia is on the rise, stoked by current political rhetoric and drawing on a deep and continuous history of such violence that stretches back centuries.
The escalation of violent attacks underscores the need to work actively to dismantle the toxic white supremacy that led to the beliefs behind them. This is the goal of Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), in which white people organize for our collective liberation under the leadership of our People of Color-led partner organizations. We reject the false narrative of scarcity that is used to justify hatred against immigrants: This country has enough for everyone, and none of us is free until all of us are free.
In the wake of these tragedies that have rattled our nation in quick succession, we encourage everyone to take care of themselves and to be in community, where we believe healing has a chance to be its strongest. For people looking for a group to work with, we in SURJ welcome you to the movement.
A quilted panel showing a heart pierced by a red ribbon representing a graph of the increased average annual gun violence, with a red bird carrying the word “nevermore”. Designed by anonymous designer in Social Justice Sewing Academy Community Quilt workshop, quilted by the East Bay Heritage Quilt Guild under the direction of Martha Wolfe. (Photo by M. Luckey)