The meeting this month was an interactive session, making use of Jamboards to discuss concepts from Week 9 of the "Abolish Everything" curriculum. The readings for that week focus on disability justice, covering topics like the relationship of the medical industrial complex to anti-Blackness, colonialism, and ableism. The jamboards also allowed us share our preconceptions about disability and prior understanding of these topics in an open atmosphere that encouraged learning new things.
This group will be on break until the fall, as will the SURJ Baltimore monthly meetings and the Friends and Family group, as we update our leadership structure and plan for next legislative session. Look to the newsletter for updates about when these meetings will resume.
The political education group this month based their conversation around Abolition Feminism for week 7 of the "Abolish Everything" curriculum. The focus of the discussion was on the need for feminism movements to reject the current criminal justice system, which doesn't protect women from harm and leads to many women being criminalized or harmed by parts of the Prison Industrial Complex (PIC). There was also some great discussion around the role of community in creating accountability and possible alternative responses to violence that don't involve the PIC. We'll continue the discussion next month with the topic of Queer and Trans Abolition, which will include topics like the past and present criminalization of queer and trans people and the role of the gender binary in the PIC. To join us, sign up here!
On April 4th, the Baltimore and Howard County group discussed the Police Accountability Board (PAB) Coalition forming in Baltimore County. This is a coalition "working to transform public safety and end racist and violent policing". Learn more about them on twitter or check out their helpful toolkit with info on police accountability in Baltimore County.
The county meeting also included some great discussion about efforts members are individually involved in, including the Vote 4 More campaign to add more districts to Baltimore County.
We wrapped up by noting that CASA's annual spring campaign is ongoing and encourage everyone who is able to consider donating to this SURJ accountability partner. Donations will support CASA's citizenship program and legal services to help hundreds of immigrants a year navigate the U.S.' complex immigration system, find opportunities to adjust their status, and, when eligible, become U.S. Citizens.
To hear about opportunities like this to get involved in racial justice in Baltimore and Howard county, sign up here for the next county meeting on Monday May 2nd at 7pm.
The Baltimore and Howard County SURJ group had a productive meeting on March 7th. We got a helpful update from the Progressive Round Table, arrived at an initial consensus on how we'll decide whether to sign on to letters, and heard about a District 12 meeting with Senator Lam. We wrapped up by completing an action alert hosted by JUFJ to support Out for Justice by emailing our reps to request funding for the Women's Prerelease Center authorized by the Gender-Responsive Prerelease Act that OFJ worked to get passed last year.
The political education group continued their study of the "Abolish Everything" curriculum with a discussion on Criminalizing Blackness. This delved into the ways that white supremacist instutions, such as the prison-industrial complex (PIC), are race-making institutions rather than byproducts of existing racialized differences—built with the purpose of exploiting labor, punishing challenges to the racial order, and blaming negative social outcomes of inequality and oppression on the manufactured 'criminal' class. Next month, the group will be exploring the topic of Abolition Feminism, which will focus on the need for feminism movements to reject the PIC in their fight against the patriarchy. Sign up here!
Several members of SURJ attended a Time to Care rally in Annapolis on Feb 21st to support Out for Justice, one of our accountability partners who have made great efforts to promote this legislation that would provide up to 12 weeks of paid leave for medical or family-related circumstances. The rally, which was organized by the Time to Care coalition, had some incredible speakers who shared powerful stories about why paid sick leave and caregiving time was important to them. These speakers included a father who has a son with special needs and a mother who adopted a daughter and couldn't take time off from her job. The rally felt large and festive, with great lighting, signs, and music. Plus everyone came home with some custom face masks - sure to be a collectors item!