Our Work at Community Change Inc.
Since 1968, Community Change Inc. has served as a community for white people and their multiracial allies to come together to learn about systemic racism and to fight against it. To dismantle the oppressive ties of whiteness that threatens all of us. While our programming has always had a learning component, we recognize that the urgency of the current environment being driven by increasing anti-Black, anti-semitic, and anti-LGBT hate crimes in addition to the hundreds of legislative efforts to roll back civil rights protections across the country, including New England, requires that we create programming that moves white people from learning to action.
While our programming has always had a learning component, we recognize that the urgency of the current environment being driven by increasing anti-Black, anti-semitic, and anti-LGBT hate crimes in addition to the hundreds of legislative efforts to roll back civil rights protections across the country, including New England, requires that we create programming that moves white people from learning to action.
Recognizing that new technologies allow for anti-racist learning to occur in far more locations than our traditional programming has been able to reach, CCI has moved into the role of a legacy organization supporting the work of emerging white anti-racist activists and groups organizing within the greater Boston area. These groups are official programs and affiliates of CCI that are working hands-on with people to dismantle institutionalized racism. We now call our core programming “The Work” as this is the work that is needed to create the changes that CCI founder Horace Seldon envisioned in 1968. All programs work under the guidance of CCI leadership and are accountable to CCI values and mission as well as making sure that whenever possible they are celebrating and following the leadership of Black and Non-Black People of Color and working together when feasible. While some of the emerging programs are run solely by CCI staff, others are run with CCI oversight but function autonomously in their day-to-day operations. Our current programming as of 2023 includes:
Boston Knapsack Anti-Racism Group
This initiative of CCI was created by staffer Myrna Morales as a way to introduce CCI’s work to a younger generation of people who see racism as a white problem and/or are interested in learning about the systemic role of whiteness in our society. The Knapsack meetup group hosts weekly events with the majority of them held at CCI. For more information on Knapsack events and to sign up for events, please go to the meetup site. The Knapsack group is governed by a leadership team that meets regularly to plan events and discussions in consultation with CCI.
Showing up for Racial Justice-SURJ Boston Chapter
SURJ is a national network of groups and individuals organizing White people for racial justice. Through community organizing, mobilizing, and education, SURJ moves White people to act as part of a multi-racial majority for justice with passion and accountability. We work to connect people across the country while supporting and collaborating with local and national racial justice organizing efforts. SURJ provides a space to build relationships, skills and political analysis to act for change. SURJ has emerged as a national leader in mobilizing white people to action and, in the summer of 2015, CCI made the decision to become the Boston affiliate chapter of SURJ. This relationship allows CCI to have a direct pathway for white people to activate beyond the learning process to taking action in their communities as well as responding to the needs in Boston.
SURJ-Boston is housed within CCI and operates with an internal team “steering committee” comprised of 6 people who rotate positions, and the group operates under the direct guidance of CCI staff. The group currently meets monthly; for more information, please contact CCI directly and don’t forget to look at the calendar for meeting dates and times. For more information please contact us at: SURJ@communitychangeinc.org
White People Challenging Racism: Moving from Talk to Action
White People Challenging Racism: Moving from Talk to Action is designed with three interwoven strands of learning: Awareness, Practice and Action.
WPCR is a ten-hour workshop held over five weeks, with weekly two-hour meetings either online or in person. The workshop welcomes participants of all identities. It's important to note, however, that its focus is on racism as a system that White people created, maintain, and condone—and White people in particular need to take immediate action to end. Many past BIPOC participants have found the workshop valuable; some have found it triggering. Each participant will begin to build skills and confidence in confronting racism in their sphere of influence.
WHAT IS THE CURRICULUM? A small group of 8-12 participants is guided by 2-3 co-facilitators. Each workshop is adapted by its co-facilitators to suit the participants, but all draw from a core syllabus that includes topical homework readings and viewings, challenging discussions, exercises, role plays, and real-world assignments with extensive guidance and support. Writing assignments include a racial awareness journey and an action plan, which participants present to one another to increase impact and accountability. Participants are also matched with accountability partners during the course of the workshop. We provide check-in opportunities during optional coffee/tea hours in between workshop sessions. At the
facilitators' discretion, there may be opportunities to check-in one-on-one.
Visit the WPCR website for more information and to register for WPCR classes.
Anti-Racism Organizing in the Suburbs (AROS)
Anti-Racism Organizing in the Suburbs (AROS) is a project of Community Change Inc (CCI). This project is rooted in the critical mass of suburban people who want to take collective action to dismantle white supremacy. The project’s goal is to help white people in the suburbs take action to dismantle white supremacy and participate in the larger struggle for collective liberation.
The initial AROS project was a joint collaboration with Winchester Multicultural Network. The objective was to co-host a convening to create a “network” to coordinate actions, activities and develop an infrastructure that supports racial justice work in that region.
On April 28th, 2018 over a hundred people from predominantly white suburban communities North of Boston participated in the first convening of groups doing anti-racism organizing work in the suburbs (AROS) at Melrose First United Methodist Church on Saturday, April 28th. The goals of the gathering were to create greater capacity for movement building, improve alignment for joint campaigns, and strengthen shared resources for effecting systemic change in suburban communities. Organized by local residents committed to doing antiracist work and staff by Community Change, Inc. and the Winchester Multicultural Network (WMCN), the day’s events included a keynote by the well-known organizer and author George Lakey and workshops on a variety of topics highlighting systemic racism and inequity.
George Lakey challenged the crowd to think critically about how to leverage the current political polarization in our country as a positive force for change, reminding everyone that “to bend iron, the blacksmith must first make it volatile.” He emphasized the need for sustained campaigns that include both economic and racial justice to create long-lasting generational change. Local organizers included Claudia Fox Tree leading a workshop on eliminating harmful Native American stereotypes, Atara Rich-Shea, Director of Operations with the Mass Bail Fund, and organizer Martin Henson from Black Lives Matter Boston sharing how to support the current Deeper Than Water campaign demanding the immediate provision of clean, safe, free, healthy water to prisoners affected by contaminated water. Other topics covered included: affordable housing, white people’s role in challenging white supremacy, street outreach in white communities, and building successful local campaigns.
CCI Antiracism Leadership Awards
The Community Change Antiracism Leadership Awards Celebration is an event held annually in November. The event grows out of an expansion of the Drylongso Awards Celebration which CCI has hosted since 1989. The first CCI Leadership Awards Celebration was held on November 10, 2009.
Leadership Awards honor the work of individuals within three categories, each appropriately recognized with its own award:
"Ordinary people doing extraordinary work against racism"
Established in 1989, the Drylongso Awards honor ordinary people doing extraordinary anti-racism work in Greater Boston. The Drylongso Awards are inspired by the book Drylongso: A Self-Portrait of Black America. In that book, anthropologist John Langston Gwaltney details the daily struggles of Drylongso, or ordinary African Americans fighting racism.
- Nadine Cohen: Legal Services and Civil Rights Attorney, Longtime Activist for Racial Justice
- Haymarket People's Fund
- Thomas Kieffer: Executive Director, South Jamaica Plain Health Center
- Aaron Tanaka: Trainer, Co-op Developer, Founding Executive Director of the Boston Workers Alliance
- Michelle Waters-Ekanem: Director of Civil Rights & Diversity, MA Dept. of Environmental Protection
- Arnie King, Through Barbed Wire
- The Most Rev. Filipe Teixeira, OFSJC, Ordinary Bishop of the Diocese of Saint Francis of Assisi, CCA- Liberation Theologian
- Sandy Thompson, Winchester Multicultural Network
- Magalis Troncosso Lama, Founder of the Dominican Development Center & Director of Organizing for Boston Tenant Coalition
- John Willshire Carrera, Lead Attorney, Immigration Unit of Boston Legal Services and Co-Managing Attorney and Clinical Instructor for the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic
Community Change Inc. is creating a template for how communities, specifically majority white suburban and rural communities can build relationships and infrastructure to fight back against the growing threat of white supremacy, white Christian nationalism, and fascism. For decades we have focused on building communities of white people committed to working on being anti-racist. COVID has forced us to move much of our organizing and community building online but the past few years have demonstrated that this work continues to be critical.