Next General Meeting: October 21st

Our next General Meeting will be on October 21st, 2020, via Zoom, from 6:30pm – 8:30pm. Our agenda will be confirmed by Monday, October 12th. We will email the Zoom meeting and password to our mailing list on the morning of the 12th.

If you are NOT part of an affinity group yet, you are welcome to join this meeting. Please know if you wish to continue working with SURJ Worcester, we expect ALL SURJ Worcester members to be part of a small affinity group for peer learning, reflection, and self education. There is an option for members of color to opt into a BIPOC only affinity group if you’d like.

If you are a returning member to SURJ General Meeting, and are NOT part of an affinity learning group yet, please fill out this form to sign up for one (and a workgroup if you want to): https://bit.ly/agwgsignup

If you would like to sign up for our mailing list to receive newsletters and calls to action in your email inbox, please fill out this form: www.bit.ly/surjwnews

If you have an announcement, upcoming event, or a call to action you would like us to share out at this meeting and/or on our calendar, please fill out this form: https://bit.ly/surjwevents

A Statement Regarding the Worcester Board of Health’s “Recommendations to the WPD to Eliminate Racism and to Mitigate the Potential for Police Brutality”

14 August 2020

Showing Up for Racial Justice-Worcester, MA

The Worcester chapter of Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ Worcester) supports the Worcester Board of Health in recommending that the Worcester Police Department adopt the twelve policy reforms put forth during the June 25th meeting of the Worcester Board of Health. Board member David Fort presented the Board with a list of twelve recommendations aimed at reducing racism and police brutality within the WPD, and the Board voted to send the WPD these recommendations with the intention of discussing the matter in greater depth in the near future. The WPD failed to appear at the Board’s following meeting on July 13th, to which they were directly invited. Adoption of these recommendations offers the WPD an opportunity to take meaningful, tangible steps towards greater accountability to the residents of Worcester. Refusal to take concrete steps toward improving the department would send a clear message to residents of Worcester and beyond about WPD’s accountability as an institution.

Systemic racism and its symptom of police brutality are unquestionably matters of public health. The COVID-19 pandemic has been but one recent showcase of race-based health inequities in this county, and in Worcester County, as in many other counties across the US, Black residents have the highest rate of infection of any racial group (NY Times, 7/5/2020). Compounding this crisis, as noted by Mr. Fort, police violence is a leading cause of death for young men of color, especially Black men (National Academy of Sciences). As Mr. Fort notes, even when interactions with police do not escalate to their most tragic conclusion, aggressive policing has wide-ranging impacts on the mental health of heavily-policed individuals and communities (American Journal of Public Health). We are continually being presented with more evidence that policing within structural racism is an issue of the utmost importance to the field of public health.

Given the indisputable prevalence of these inequities and the attention rightfully being paid to them, this moment provides us an opportunity to take action. It is imperative that, in working towards a more just, equitable future for Worcester, the Worcester Board of Health be part of the discussions and decision-making process. SURJ Worcester encourages the Worcester Police Department adopting these twelve recommendations as part of an ongoing, broad-based effort towards intersectional racial justice in Worcester. We support Board member Fort’s efforts to advance discussions and policies promoting racial justice and holding WPD to the standard that residents of Worcester deserve.

Next General Meeting: August 19th

Our next General Meeting will be on August 19th, 2020, via Zoom, from 6:30pm – 8:30pm. Agenda will be confirmed by Friday, August 14th. We will email the Zoom meeting and password to our mailing list on the morning of August 19th.

If you are NOT part of an affinity group yet, you are welcome to join this meeting. Please know if you wish to continue working with SURJ Worcester, we expect ALL SURJ Worcester members to be part of a small affinity group for peer learning, reflection, and self education. There is an option for members of color to opt into a BIPOC only affinity group if you’d like.

If you are a returning member to SURJ General Meeting, and are NOT part of an affinity learning group yet, please fill out this form to sign up for one (and a workgroup if you want to): https://bit.ly/agwgsignup

If you would like to sign up for our mailing list to receive newsletters and calls to action in your email inbox, please fill out this form: www.bit.ly/surjwnews

If you have an announcement, upcoming event, or a call to action you would like us to share out at this meeting and/or on our calendar, please fill out this form: https://bit.ly/surjwevents

Accessibility:
This meeting is hosted on Zoom. There are options to call in by phone as well as use computer audio. Appearances by kids, pets, etc. are welcome. Hosts will be muting folks as needed to help eliminate background noise / feedback.

La reunión se llevará a cabo en inglés. Si necesitará acceso de reunión en otra lengua, por favor mandé un mensaje a 774-312-6217 o SURJ.Worcester@gmail.com (This meeting is conducted in English. If you need language access, please email SURJ.Worcester@gmail.com)

This meeting will be captioned in English in real time by Access Captioning Technologies. We will enable chat and handraising functions, so those who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, neurodivergent, and/or would find captions helpful can participate both ways in the conversation in real time via text or spoken English.

If you have other accessibility needs or have questions, please email SURJ.Worcester@gmail.com!

Resources to Look At & Discuss in 2020

Social media are awash with reading guides, videos, podcasts and trainings for white people seeking to educate themselves about racial justice, anti-racism, the Movement for Black Lives, abolition, settler-colonialism, white supremacy, white privilege, intersectionality, and generally concepts around race, ethnicity, and racism that we all will benefit from studying more carefully. Before going on: one small but important thing you can do if you’re not already is start following more BIPOC people on social media (note: following and listening! Not arguing with or asking to help you be a better you). With that in mind, we thought it might be helpful for SURJ Worcester members to start sharing just a few suggestions here of places to start — there are many more to continue with — and hopefully find a group of people to share and discuss with through SURJ.

We will be back soon with more! In the meantime, Racial Equity Tools provides this resource (with links to many useful SURJ pieces).

Towards Accountability

We (SURJ Coordinators Team) are trying to develop a mechanism so that folks of color can more safely offer us feedback, whether it’s positive or critical or curious. We know we have not done this effectively in the past. This Accountability & Feedback form is our first NEW try at something like this. We ask some questions, and there is open space to write. The form does not collect your email or any demographic or contact information you do not offer us. This form is up on our website, so it is accessible anytime. We will share it here periodically, as well as send it out in our newsletter. 

If you are white and you have feedback for us, please email us at SURJ.Worcester@gmail.com instead! Thank you!