ICYMI For White Folks: Week of Action to #DefendBlackLives in Madison (Part I)

Dear fellow white folks of Madison, 

Annie from the SJC here, just checking in with an “In Case You Missed It” on the week of action in defense of Black life in Madison. We’re witnessing an incredible moment in the struggle for racial justice and liberation: the week of action was full of righteous, justified anger, beautiful artistic expression, immense sorrow and pain, and unabashed celebration for Black life. But this isn’t just a moment; what happened after George Floyd lost his life at the hands of the Minneapolis police is part of a movement centuries in the making, a movement that isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. I put together this ICYMI because white people like ourselves cannot simply be witnesses, we cannot just be allies in this struggle, we must work to be co-conspirators instead. 

But listening and learning are certainly prerequisites to co-conspiratorship and there has been a lot of misinformation and confusion surrounding the protests — not to mention hostility, dismissiveness, apologism, defensiveness and violent, racist language. Maybe people you know were in that latter category and could use some tools with which to navigate difficult conversations with your family and friends. Hopefully some of the following resources can help with that. This turned into a much longer blog post than I expected so this is just the first part of a longer discussion. 

What happened? What’s going on?

If you only learned about what happened during the week of action from “mainstream” news outlets, there could be a lot you’re missing about what went down. Check out these articles, videos and podcasts.



Multiple rows of police in riot gear stand blocking the top of State Street between Teddywedgers and Ian’s pizza. Taken Saturday May 30th before sundown. Photo

Multiple rows of police in riot gear stand blocking the top of State Street between Teddywedgers and Ian’s pizza. Taken Saturday May 30th before sundown. Photo

Dozens of protesters kneel in front of riot cops, 2-3 individuals photographing the protest stand near a fire on the ground on State Street. Photo by Austin Josephs.

Dozens of protesters kneel in front of riot cops, 2-3 individuals photographing the protest stand near a fire on the ground on State Street. Photo by Austin Josephs.

A person stands in front of and facing away from a line of riot cops, who are obscured by clouds of tear gas or smoke bombs, the individual is holding their hands above their head making peace signs. Photo by Austin Josephs.

A person stands in front of and facing away from a line of riot cops, who are obscured by clouds of tear gas or smoke bombs, the individual is holding their hands above their head making peace signs. Photo by Austin Josephs.

Follow local black-led organizations on social media and donate if you can. 

Neighborhood Organizing Institute is a city-wide leadership development program created for Madison-based community organizers, advocates and grassroots leaders. NOI provides participants in the program with the opportunity to analyze social issues in their neighborhoods and think critically about community driven solutions. Its mission is to build the capacity of local community organizers, advocate for more investment in grassroots leadership within marginalized communities, and to promote collaboration and coalition building within Madison’s organizing community. Donate to NOI via Cash App at $cocoabeanskincare.

Freedom, Inc. if you don’t already know, is a Black and Southeast Asian organization that works with low- to no-income communities of color. In their words, “Our mission is to achieve social justice through coupling direct services with leadership development and community organizing that will bring about social, political, cultural, and economic change resulting in the end of violence against women, gender-non-conforming and transgender folks, and children within communities of color. Also MAKE SURE you follow Freedom Youth Squad, their student and youth-driven branch, working on getting cops out of schools and supporting youth of color . Donate to Freedom Inc here. 

Urban Triage, founded by Brandi Grayson, is on a mission to empower Black families and co-conspirators while mobilizing community resources and distributing them to those most in need, and at the same time, engaging systems in implementing systematic, sustainable, equitable, and clinically sound approaches to health behavior and prevention. Read about the Dane County Collaboration of Black Service Providers (DCCBSP), which they helped launch to respond to the needs of those most affected by COVID-19. Donate to Urban Triage here. 

Free the 350 Bail Fund is a community run bail fund consisting of many local progressive organizations and individuals working together to support people’s needs and build community so that incarceration can be dismantled. Read their recent statement regarding COVID-19 and the Dane County Jail. There are so many ways to donate!

Donate to support people who were arrested during the Madison protests/uprising here 

Our very own Dane County TimeBank’s Restorative Justice project justice hotline to help resolve non-emergency disputes without involving the police. They also have “Community Labs for Intentional Practice” (“CLIP labs”) for brainstorming actions and solutions. Read this blog post by Restorative Justice Director, Dr. Damita Brown, Finding Our True North for Racial Justice: Redefining Power — it’s an incredible look into how predominantly white organizations, like many in Madison, can redefine power by taking a racial justice lens. Learn more about their racial justice work here.

Crowd of protesters in an intersection in Madison holding Black Lives Matter banner. Photo by Austin Josephs.

Crowd of protesters in an intersection in Madison holding Black Lives Matter banner. Photo by Austin Josephs.

But I want to do something! I want to get involved. 

Good. Because movements need more than money and follows on social media. But sometimes, regardless of intention or expertise, just jumping in and trying to take action can be more harmful than helpful, or at the very least, it can create more stress, hassle and work for Black leadership. Have you reflected on your own behaviors and implicit bias? Have you devoted energy and time to learning about these issues and what’s going on in our community already? We all have room to grow, and there’s work white folks can (and should) do internally and within their social circles to support movements for racial justice. 

Get involved with TimeBank’s Transformative Action Network, by attending an orientation and anti-racist trainings. Another way to take active steps to confront racism in your social circles is to request or join a CLIP lab. Community Lab for Intentional Practice or CLIP labs are an alternative community space for developing abolitionist, co-conspirator and restorative justice practices that eliminate racial disparities in Dane County and empower the voices of those most impacted. Recognizing that unlearning the ways we participate in white supremacist culture are deeply ingrained, members are committed to consistent and long term work.

CLIP prioritizes expanding self-awareness and the ability to offer transformative practice at interpersonal and institutional levels of engagement and organizations are welcome to request lab sessions that respond to their specific needs. The Social Justice Center has our own internal CLIP lab to develop a deeper understanding of the ways in which we, as a predominantly white organization, have been complicit in white supremacist culture and how to move with intentionality towards becoming co-conspirators in dismantling it. We’ve found the CLIP lab to be profoundly meaningful and educational at our organization, and recommend all organizations contact the TimeBank to see if you can get one started too. 

Support and/or volunteer with LGBT Books to Prisoners or Wisconsin Books to Prisoners, located in the incubator of the Social Justice Center. Right now, due to COVID-19, in-person volunteer sessions are temporarily paused, but you can learn more about how to donate (including which kinds of books they need) on their websites.

Groundwork is a local community organization of white people working towards racial justice, they’re a part of the Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) network. If you’re not familiar, SURJ is a national organization for white people within the multi-racial movement for justice and equity that is all about undermining white support for white supremacy. SURJ provides space for white people to learn and leverage their white privilege while maintaining accountability to and supporting organizing led by POC and centering the leadership of POC in the fight for racial justice. Definitely check them out. 

Groundwork’s three main goals are engaging white people to work for racial justice, working in collaboration with organizations led by people of color, and deepening their members’ own education and leadership development. They offer lots of classes, workshops and other learning opportunities, in addition to showing up as allies in direct actions and working on local campaigns. Groundwork is a great resource for anyone who wants to learn more about the dynamics of race, privilege and power and the injustices (past and present) in our local context . This group collaborates with organizations led by POC and is a great place to start for white allies. 

Join the Community Response Team on Facebook. The Madison-based CRT is all about advocating for civilian oversight of the police to our elected officials in local government.  Essentially, their goals are to minimize police use of force in our community, develop a roadmap and template for community response to police use of force for Madison, to build capacity to support community-lead public safety alternatives, hold police accountable to the communities they serve, and to place control of the quality of police work conducted in our community in the hands of the community. The CRT is committed to working with all segments of society, informed by leadership from communities most impacted by police use of force, and to providing space for the community to grieve and engage in restoration, and support the people most directly impacted by instances of police use of force. 

Of course, the movement to defend Black lives in Madison is part of a bigger movement across the nation — and worldwide! 

Follow the Movement for Black Lives on facebook and sign the petition on their website — while you’re there, read up! You can find the comprehensive policy platform and action items, plus learn more about their work and how you can support it. 

Check out all the resources on the Defending Black Lives website and sign their petition, “Time to Defund Police & Invest in Black Communities.” 

Follow the Rising Majority on facebook and learn more on their website. These three pages will provide essential updates and information about national organizing for Black lives. 

In addition to supporting our local bail fund, you can learn more and support bail funds in other areas by visiting the National Bail Fund Network

The SJC has gotten tons of questions about where to get a Black lives matter sign – good news! You can get a yard sign here. All proceeds will go directly to the five local nonprofits featured on the sign: Freedom Inc., Urban Triage, Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness, The Progress Center for Black Women, and Featherstone Flamingos. Ordering closes on July 1st, email blmmadisonsigns@gmail.com with any questions.

Though shopping in itself isn’t going to end racial injustice, supporting Black-owned businesses is valuable in so many ways. Here are 24 Black-owned food businesses to support in and around Madison. We recommend our dear friends and neighbors, Buraka, and Mango Man who’s part of the SJC family – both of whom have donated their time and delicious food to the SJC in the past! Make sure you check out Hayne’s Kitchen and Fast n Fresh who brought their food trucks to last year’s Jubilee. Are you vegan? Don’t miss LushLife vegan bakery and JustVeggiez (also shop online with Black-owned vegan food brands). Prefer shopping online? Head over to We Buy Black, the “online global marketplace for Black-owned businesses.” Also check out Buy From a Black Woman.org and these black-owned Esty shops

These are just a few very basic ideas and suggestions to get you (and your friends and relatives and coworkers) to get started. This is really just a list of people who know a heck of a lot more than I do and have been working their butts off. Ending white supremacy and becoming anti-racist starts, in many ways, with listening and humility — and putting your money where your mouth is (both in terms of actual money, and with action). But there’s so much more and deeper work to be done. There are a lot of resources being shared on social media and important discussions going on. I’ll add a part two covering those in an overview for busy people/newbies soon.

Thanks for being in community with us, 

Annie Kraus

Director of Operations and Development 

Social Justice Center

P.S. Thanks to Alex Mitchard and Austin Josephs for letting me use some of their photos of the week of action after my phone broke and I lost all my pictures.

Related Posts