DSM SURJ News & Action, 7/21/2020

This week:

Accepting applications for new Leadership Core members, important urgent action, join SURJ Des Moines via zoom August 2nd, fund immigrant families and Des Moines #BLM work. Plus, learning and action resources.


Apply to Join Leadership Core of DSM SURJ

Des Moines Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) seeks 2-4 new leadership core members to serve on our team. This is your opportunity to help us strategize and execute on our goal to build deeper connections among white people committed to anti-racism, justice and equity. We are committed to doing this work in support of and connected to people of color-led organizations, movements and initiatives.  Fill out this google form to apply! Deadline to apply is August 1, 2020.    

Urgent Action this Week: Write Governor Reynolds. Again, really!

Contact Governor Kim Reynolds about restoring voting rights to people convicted of felonies. Under pressure from activists like Black Lives Matter Governor Reynolds has said she will sign an executive order to restore voting rights before the November election but she has indicated the types of exceptions, if any, would be included.  There is also concern that she will delay signing in order to make it difficult for those impacted to participate in the 2020 election. It is important that we keep up the pressure on the Governor – urge her to sign an executive order with no exceptions and do it now. All SURJ members should contact the Governor’s Office in whatever way they choose:  call (515-281-5211), online contact, letter, postcard (Office of the Governor, Iowa State Capitol, 1007 East Grand Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50319).

Here’s a template:


Dear Governor Reynolds,

Thank you for your efforts to get an amendment to the Iowa Constitution passed that would restore the voting rights of persons convicted of felonies in Iowa.  This is long overdue.  People who have made mistakes and paid the consequences should be able to become full members of their communities and voting is one part of that.

Since the Senate Judiciary Committee has chosen to kill your efforts to amend the constitution the earliest another amendment could pass is 2024.  I commend your commitment to use your executive privilege to do the right thing in the short term as the work continues to amend the constitution.  I urge you to sign an order now with no restrictions.

[Insert a personal story – how this disenfranchisement impacts you or someone you know.  For example:  I want to live in a true democracy where all citizens have a voice by being able to vote.  This makes for resilient and safe communities that recognize the worth of everyone, not just the powerful or privileged.]



Upcoming DSM SURJ Meetings

As DSM SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice) continues to adapt to conditions of COVID-19, we will keep you updated in the newsletter and Facebook on how to register for these topics. 

August 2 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm.: Equity in Education.Register here. Racial disparities continue to exist in educational outcomes in our nation, our state, and in our local districts. Join our accountability partners in a discussion on the causes for those disparities, how they manifest in students and family experiences, and what SURJ can do to help. Students and families of color will join a conversation starting with these questions: What are your top concerns when considering equity in education? What would an anti-racist classroom, school, and district look like? How can SURJ help you get there?

DSM SURJ working groups – get involved!

Working groups focus on specific areas of racial justice work. Email us if you are interested in joining one of these three groups:

1. Changing local school district practices: Education equity working group I. Many educators cite “parent pushback” as a reason they are nervous to work for anti-racism in schools. This is often code for powerful white parents whose opposition educators fear may cost them their jobs. We as white parents want to flip the script and push for anti-racism in schools. We want educators to know that we fully expect and demand an anti-racist education—for children of all racialized identities. In addition to creating space to support each other in raising white children to be anti-racist, our goal is to leverage our white privilege to push for explicitly anti-racist policies, curriculum, funding, hiring practices, representation, and other structural changes in Des Moines area public schools. We do this in alignment with and allegiance to communities of color who we know have been lobbying for these changes for generations. 

2. Changing state level policy: Education equity working group 2. SURJ accountability partners have asked for our support in approval of recommendations that they’ve made to the State Board of Education. CORE and Al Éxito, both accountability partners, are preparing a presentation to the Board of Educational Examiners to reach objectives related to teacher training curriculum that supports pre-service and current teachers around equity, cultural responsive methods, and narrowing the achievement gap. Join this SURJ working group to support them in these efforts.

3. Immigration justice working group:  Our accountability partner, American Friends Service Committee has asked us to help coordinate a visitor volunteer program for people detained by ICE at the Polk County Jail. We are working in collaboration with Iowans for Immigrant Freedom, based out of Iowa City, as they are already visiting folks being detained by ICE in Hardin and Linn County jails. The organization, Freedom for Immigrants, is the overarching organization that has provided tools and resources around this work.  As needs arise, this group will also support other asks from our accountability partners as capacity allows. 

Emergency support to Latinx families during the COVID crisis

Over $131,466.86 has been provided to help 167 families in central Iowa to help with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, while more than 100 families remain on the waitlist seeking assistance. 

The Central Iowa Immigrant Emergency Support Fund (CIIESF) is an initiative of American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) Iowa, Al Éxito, and Proteus Inc. The fund was set up to meet the needs of Iowans who do not qualify for government assistance during this global pandemic. The fund assists community members facing significant challenges due to loss of income, illness or other COVID-19 related impacts and has covered families most basic needs including rent, mortgages, utilities, transportation, medicine for their families during COVID-19. 

A recipient of CIIESF aid said, “I have just received a check for $1,000 I am not crying tears of sadness but tears of joy for this donation. I don’t have the words to show my appreciation for Proteus Inc for your kindness and humanity during these VERY difficult times. Thank you, Monserrat for your help at every moment. I am so happy that I truly don’t know whether to pay the rent, buy food, pay my debts, buy necessities, look for a lawyer for the accident or pay the hospital, but what I do know is I will give someone $100 to help someone else. God is great and merciful, and he never forgets about us.”

An initial grant from the Greater Des Moines Community Foundation under the Disaster Recovery Fund, along with donations from Mid-Iowa Health Foundation, Polk County, La Q Buena Radio and others, allowed CIIESF to open on April 27. Over 100 families are currently on the CIIESF waitlist requesting an additional $118,246.20 to fulfill their needs. “The economic impact of the pandemic does not discriminate on the basis of nationality, but the disparities are even greater during times of crisis,” said Monserrat Iniguez, Program Specialist for CIIESF, Proteus. “Something to remember is that while tax-paying citizens received a stimulus check, many tax-paying immigrants did not. This fund has helped ameliorate some of the financial hardship’s immigrants’ families face during the pandemic. From rent to medications, the mere existence of this fund has shown that there is a willingness within the community to ensure that all residents of this state are taken care of, and many families express their gratitude and bestow blessings to all who have donated.” 

If supporters are able to contribute, they can donate to the CIIESF here

Read with SURJ this summer: Book club

In July, We’re reading Kendi’s collaboration with Jason Reynolds to remix Stamped from the Beginninginto a young adult “not a history book”  Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You. Then we’ll finish out the summer with James Baldwin’s personal, provocative, and sadly still relevantThe Fire Next Time. Learn about all titles at the Book Club website.

Currently, space in the book club is filled. We invite you to read these books on your own or with family or friends. We will send out an updated announcement when space opens up.

GoFundMe #BlackLivesMatter Organizer in Des Moines

Donate here:   SURJ DSM supports the GoFundMe campaign of local #BlackLivesMatter organizer Matthew Bruce. He writes:

“My name is Matthew Bruce, I am from the Eastside of Des Moines, and I have been organizing in the #BlackLivesMatter movement for 6 years. Watching my brothers, sisters, friends and community members struggle to fight through police violence, scattered riots, and ideological divisions was just too painful for me to bear. This inspired me to come home from Chicago, where I was protesting, to help lead organization efforts in Des Moines and offer whatever value I could as far as my experience in and understanding of this movement.” 

$1500/month goes to Matthew, the remainder will go to Minneapolis organizers seeking to end police brutality after the murder of George Floyd.

Learn about & Support Black Land Reparations

Black Land and Power is building a world of abundance through leveraging reparations towards Black-stewarded land spaces that work at the intersections of healing, education, food justice, agroecology, arts and culture, shelter, collective stewardship, and more. This summer, BLP has identified 10 beautiful land spaces that reparations will fund.

White folks are supporting this movement through “relational and transformative work of seeding reparations.” Calling themselves “Reparations Accomplices,” the inaugural cohort launched The  Reparations Summer project on Juneteenth (6/19). 

“The basis of all wealth is the combination of land and labor, and to be self determining we must liberate both.” BLLI Reparations Manifesto

Here are some shared resources:

Reparations Summer Website: http://reparationssummer.com/

Commitment Survey:

  • We’re asking people to fill out this form to tell us about their commitment. This helps us track resources, and also make sure we connect you to political ed, conversations with land sites, the upcoming webinars we’ll be hosting to dive deeper, and other exciting things! 
  • We are so excited that many of you want to move resources this week! We’d love to talk to you before you do, and we’ll be in touch this week. Here is the info you’ll need:


DAF: Please send to BlackOut Collective / Ruckus Society (EIN: 81-0504390) with “BLP Juneteenth Reparations Campaign” in the memo line.
Checks: Send to The Ruckus Society, PO Box 28741Oakland, CA 94604 with “BLP Juneteenth Reparations Campaign” in the memo line.
Wire: Reach out to us!
Stocks:  Reach out to us!


  • “You gotta understand that piles of money have become the abstraction of the humanity that is actually pushed down and destroyed by creating that pile of money…Putting that money back into the commons is as close as you can come to beginning part of the process of repair” – Ed Whitfield
  • “We are not asking people to answer for their ancestors’ crimes, we are asking them to stop upholding the structures their ancestors created and to stop hoarding the wealth our ancestors created.” – Akua Deirdre Smith
  • “The basis of all wealth is the combination of land and labor, and to be self determining we must liberate both.” BLLI Reparations Manifesto
  • “However, reparations is about repairing our relations. While it must include amends for past harm, it must also transform our relationships to each other and the living world so that such harm can never happen again.”  BLLI Reparations Manifesto

Reparations Resource List:

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