The following points of unity were informed by our deep study of the landscape of Seattle and the national moment and are the key concepts that guide our work. They are intended as catalyzers of conversation, agitation and liberation.
Collective liberation means none of us are free until all of us are free. We are fighting for a world where all people have self-determination; where justice means transformation and healing, not policing and punishment; where land, labor, and housing are no longer commodities; and where the conditions exist for all people to recover from trauma and live with dignity, resilience, and deep, loving connection. This requires a transition away from an extractive, exploitative, military-based economy and toward an economy rooted in producing only what is needed, honoring the earth, and sharing wealth, resources, and power so that all people can survive and thrive.
We believe that such a world can only be created if we fight for transformative social change locally, nationally, and globally. This change will come about through mass-based, multi-racial, and intersectional social movements led by oppressed peoples. We see ourselves as a small yet integral part in this broader struggle for social transformation.
We believe that transformative social change requires the building of powerful movements that inspire millions of people to take action, to build bridges across sectors, and to center the self-determination of directly impacted communities. These movements must confront the contradictions of white supremacy, capitalism, colonialism and heteropatriarchy. This requires many different organizations and formations, each of which have unique roles to play. Groups that organize white folks to show up for racial justice, like CARW, are one of many ways to contribute to this vibrant movement ecology.
As white people, we are consistently invited to uphold a power structure that is the root cause of the converging crises of climate change, empire, and economy. These crises most violently target communities of color, yet are to the detriment of us all. In order to maintain this power structure, we are taught to numb ourselves to the effects of racism, to see ourselves as superior, and to make psychological and spiritual bargains in exchange for privileges and power that prioritize our own comfort, safety, and well-being over the health and safety of communities of color. For racial oppression to continue, it requires our complicity, which also means we can choose another way.
Communities that are most impacted by white supremacy and capitalism have always been at the forefront of liberation movements. Because our humanity and the fate of the world depends on the success of people of color-led liberation movements, we organize white folks to show up for racial justice. We do so as a specific response to calls by movement elders and long-time activists to “organize our people.” We organize with a commitment to show up as our full selves and create accountable, transformative relationships with each other and with organizations rooted in communities of color.
Our values align with and build upon the values of Showing Up for Racial Justice, which include the following:
This country was founded by wealthy white people on stolen land, the forced removal and killing of indigenous people and the enslavement of Black people as a means to consolidate wealth and power. Globally and locally, white supremacy continues to shape the economy through privatization, policing, and pollution. An economy where our basic needs (from education to public transit) are vulnerable to the market; state violence is used to contain and kill communities deemed disposable by the economy; empire continues to expand globally via trade agreements and military occupation to ensure unfettered access to cheap labor and depletion of natural resources; and industry fuels climate catastrophe, wreaking havoc with no clear plan to reverse the rising tides.
White supremacy continues to be used as a primary tool by the ruling class to divide and exploit the working class, landless people, and poor people. Through the wages of whiteness, white workers align themselves with the white ruling class, not communities of color. As racism is the glue that continues to bind capitalism together, we situate our work for racial justice as inherently a struggle against capitalism, where poor and working-class communities of color are on the front-line.
Anti-racist solidarity across poor and working-class communities is key if we seek to defeat racial capitalism. And as we build a cross-class movement, it is necessary for middle and owning-class folks to honor the anti-racist leadership of poor and working-class folks. Despite the looming presence of Cold War anti-communism as well as the ongoing racist repression of the Black Freedom movement, we embrace an explicit opposition to both capitalism and white supremacy.
Our racial justice work is interwoven with fights for economic justice, gender justice, disability justice, climate justice, as well as struggles against Christian hegemony, imperialism, and so many other forces of domination. We have a responsibility to challenge oppressive dynamics in the movement and we have an opportunity to build solidarity across our many communities. As initially outlined by working-class queer Black womxn (like the Combahee River Collective), we are reminded of the the necessity of centering the struggles and solutions of communities that are targeted by multiple, intersecting systems of oppression.
As white people, we come to this work with many intersecting identities — while all white people reap (relative) material benefits due to our whiteness, our experience of whiteness is also shaped by gender, class, geography, and so much more. We resist the violently patronizing framework that says only certain communities are deserving and worthy of solidarity/humanity, while dismissing other communities as undeserving and disposable — these lines are cut by oppressive forces, from anti-Black racism to ableism and transphobia. We cannot accept practices in our movements or visions for the future that leave any of us behind.
We situate our work in our context—geographically, culturally, and historically. As we are inspired by organizing from a variety of places, from rural Oregon to the deep South, we know that our conditions are unique and that a cookie-cutter approach to resistance will not suffice. As a Seattle-based organization in a time of rising fascism, gentrification, and pseudo-progressivism, we know CARW has a unique role to play in organizing white people in fighting both white nationalism and racial capitalism. Despite Seattle having a reputation as a beacon of progress, we continue to witness the massive displacement, criminalization, and exploitation of communities of color as well as poor and working-class white communities. In Seattle, movement forces have an opportunity to wage uncompromising resistance to the re-emergence of white nationalism, while at the same time winning visionary victories that move beyond a progressive veneer.
We acknowledge the tension between radical purism and short-term pragmatism within our social justice landscape. This tension leaves us with powerful lessons: this economic system of racial capitalism is not inevitable yet it is frighteningly pervasive, it is declining in popularity yet will not be abolished overnight, it ultimately cannot be made humane via policy/electoral advocacy yet such tactics cannot be readily dismissed. Through this framework, we understand the need to fight for non-reformist reforms and maneuver in people-powered electoral struggles, as well as the need to engage in a multitude of direct action and creative disruption. When informed by transformative strategy and vision, these tactics can serve to embolden our collective resilience, build grassroots power and leadership, win victories that directly benefit oppressed communities, erode the power of the ruling class (from the police to tech monopolies), reframe the dominant narrative, and open up possibilities for further struggle. Our strategy is not dictated by dogma nor is it formed in isolation; our strategy is shaped by ongoing dialogue with our members, mentors, movement friends, and partner organizations based in communities of color.
In the aftermath of protests against the World Trade Organization and the transformative dialogue that followed amongst left social movements, initiated by people of color, white folks in Seattle came together to form the Coalition of Anti-racist Whites (CARW) in 2001.
Grounded by a primary strategy of anti-racist organizing in white communities and accountable relationships with communities of color, CARW has moved through many different organizing structures: from committees to councils and from voting to consensus decision-making. Key changes at that time included: the formation of the Organizing Collective (CARW’s leadership body), from 2010 – 2015 the annual running of the White Anti-Racist Organizing Institute, and the establishment of formal ally (solidarity) relationships with grassroots, people of color led partner organizations.
As national movements for black lives, police accountability and abolition, and indigenous sovereignty gain power and visibility, CARW continues to see a rise in both the need for and the waking up of larger and larger numbers of white people. We are growing in our belief and commitment to the responsibility of white folks in taking action and putting our bodies on the line. To meet the growing demand CARW is holding larger member and public meetings, engaging in more dispersed leadership, deepening our accountability to people of color-led movements, and building our collectively held sense of dignity and leadership in the movement for racial justice and collective liberation.
Our current structure includes the Organizing Collective (our leadership and decision-making body), several leadership teams (Education, Campaign Action, Member Engagement, Communications & Media and Admin / Logistics), the Solidarity wing (that includes several solidarity groups), and the Campaign wing.
As CARW organizers develop in their leadership and organizing skills they have the option to move through increasing levels of responsibility and challenge from newcomer to leader, over time.
Partner Organizations are grassroots people of color-led organizations with which CARW has a committed and long-standing partnership. Solidarity Groups are CARW organizers who collaborate with and are accountable to Partner Organizations on key campaigns, projects, and fundraising efforts. Collaborations are defined together with partner organizations and currently include: mobilizing for direct action, campaign development, childcare, fundraising, data entry, volunteer coordination, and more.
CARW currently works with the Duwamish Tribe, Got Green, BAYAN PNW, and several migrant justice organizations, including Northwest Detention Center Resistance and El Comite. CARW is also a member of the Block the Bunker Coalition.CARW is an affiliate of Showing Up For Racial Justice (SURJ), a national organization of white anti-racist organizations.
You are invited to become a member of CARW! Making and honoring a commitment is an important move for keeping ourselves accountable and building and strengthening the movement for racial justice. We ask CARW members to commit to the following: attendance at quarterly membership meetings, taking action monthly, and making a meaningful gift in the form of membership dues to help support CARW and to our POC-led partner organizations.
Sign up for CARW’s mailing list for events, campaigns, and actions.
We acknowledge that we are on Duwamish / Coast Salish Tribal land. The peoples and cultures of these tribes are still here, surviving and thriving in spite of hundreds of years of colonization and attempted genocide. We honor their strength and resilience.