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09/27/2017 | Racial Justice

Hoosier Action Confronts White Supremacy in Indiana

On August 17, over 200 Hoosiers packed Bloomington Indiana’’s First United Church for Hoosier Action’s “Confronting White Supremacy in Indiana” organizing meeting in response to the racist violence at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville. After an opening prayer, Hoosier Action member Stephanie Solomon invited the attendees to take a moment of silence and then 10 minutes of discussion with their neighbors, contemplating their feelings and fears in the wake of the Charlottesville violence.

Hoosier Action Director Kate Hess Pace then offered a working understanding of white supremacy and introduced Hooiser Action’s model of “invitational organizing” as a strategy to counter the growing influence of the Traditionalist Workers Party (TWP), a white nationalist organization headquartered in Paoli, Indiana -- and transforming the political-economic factors that give rise to groups like the TWP. Recognizing that this model would not resonate with all of those in attendance, Hess Pace acknowledged the work of other Indiana organizations such as Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), Indivisibles, and the Democratic Socialists of America, urging the assembled crowd to get involved in whichever organization spoke most fully to them.

Hoosier Action Director of Outreach Jesse Myerson guided the attendees through a deeper look into the TWP’s leader, Matthew Heimbach, a central figure at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, and the substance of his appeal to Hoosiers. Myerson also expanded on Hoosier Action’s understanding of the “invitational organizing” model and “radical abundance” political appeal that form the core of Hoosier Action’s plan to out-organize the TWP with multi-racial coalitions, aligned around common interests, that can immunize Hoosiers from Heimbach’s “racist politics of scarcity” and shift the balance of political forces in the state.

The attendees then broke out into five geographically-focused groups, developing organizing plans and beginning to assemble power maps for Paoli, Martinsville, Greenwood, Bedford, and Indiana University. Each group elected a chair and committed to a timeframe for a next meeting before returning to the church’s sanctuary for a wrap-up led by Hoosier Action member Colleen Johnston, who told her personal story and asked attendees to become dues-paying members of Hoosier Action and commit to the work of building political power and out-organizing the white supremacist forces in the region.