2015 Session 8: Deconstructing Class – Building Analysis and Power

Anne Braden Anti-Racist Training Program
2015: Session 8: Deconstructing Class – Building Analysis and Power

Required Readings and Video

  1. Paul Kivel, “Where Are You in the Class System?” from You Call This a Democracy? (4 page PDF*: Where Are You Kivel). (bio).
  2. Pyramid chart of the owning classes of the U.S. from Kivel

    From Kivel, You Call This a Democracy?

    Paul Kivel, “Class Chart” from You Call This a Democracy? (1 page PDF*: Kivel Class Chart). (bio).

  3. G. William Domhoff, “Table 1: Income, net worth, and financial worth in the U.S. by percentile, in 2010 dollars” from “Wealth, Income, and Power,” Who Rules America? www2.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html. (1 page PDF: Income and wealth US 2010).
  4. Betsy Leondar-Wright “Working Definitions” from Class Matters. (On the web at ClassMatters.org; also 3 page PDF: Leondar-Wright Working Definitions of Class). (bio).
  5. Molly Hein, [diagram of privilege x-rayed] from Karen Pittelman and Resource Generation, Classified: How to Stop Hiding Your Privilege and Use It for Social Change. (2 page PDF: Hein Class Privilege Xrayed). (bio).
  6. bell hooks, “Feminism and Class Power” from Where We Stand: Class Matters. (11 page PDF: hooks Feminism and Class Power). (bio).
  7. David Gilbert, Looking at the White Working Class Historically. Pages 1 and 17 required, the rest recommended. (17 page PDF: Looking at the White Working Class Historically). (bio).
  8. Gil Fagiani, “Community Organizing: White Working Class Communities – 1970s” (4 page PDF: White Working Class Neighborhoods Fagiani). (bio).
  9. James Tracy, “The (Original) Rainbow Coalition – An Interview with Bobby Lee”. At JamesTracyBooks.org: jamestracybooks.org/2007/01/03/the-original-rainbow-coalition-an-interview-with-bobby-lee. (Tracy bio). (Note: Bobby Lee is Bobby Lee Rush bio).
  10. Paul Kivel, “Introduction” to You Call This a Democracy?. (9 page PDF: Kivel Intro You Call This A Democracy). (bio).
  11. David Rothkopf, “Superclass: The Global Power Elite and the World They are Making,” minutes 4–21 of the 75 minute video. Youtube at youtube.com/watch?v=BgoI4Qh-c7I. (Transcription available as a 5 page PDF: Rothkopf Superclass). (bio).
  12. Karen Pittelman and Resource Generation, with illustrations by Molly Hein, Chapter 3 of Classified: How to Stop Hiding Your Privilege and Use It For Social Change. (6 page PDF:  Wealth Equals Class Privilege). (bio).

Recommended Readings

  1. Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, “Red Diaper Baby?” from Red Dirt: Growing Up Okie. (6 page PDF: Dunbar-Ortiz Red Diaper Baby). (bio).
  2. Donna Langston, “Tired of Playing Monopoly” from Margaret L. Andersen and Patricia Hill Collins, eds., Race, Class, and Gender: An Anthology. (4 page PDF: Langston Tired of Monopoly).
  3. Michael James, “Getting Ready for the Firing Line: Organizing in Uptown in the 60s. Remembering JOIN Community Union”. (10 page PDF: Getting Ready for the Firing Line). (bio).
  4. “Organizing Poor Whites in Chicago: A Chronology”. (1 page PDF: Organizing Poor Whites Chicago chron).

Readings are provided free for use by participants studying in the Anne Braden Training Program for Anti-Racist Organizers, a noncommercial, nonprofit educational program. We encourage everyone to buy the works from which excerpts have been taken – please support these authors and publishers.

Author Biographies

Photo of "Historians Against the War" panel.Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz grew up in rural Oklahoma, daughter of a landless farmer and half-Indian mother. Her paternal grandfather, a white settler, farmer, and veterinarian, had been a labor activist and Socialist in Oklahoma with the Industrial Workers of the World in the first two decades of the twentieth century. The stories of her grandfather inspired her to lifelong social justice activism.  Roxanne took a position teaching in a newly established Native American Studies program at California State University at Hayward, near San Francisco, and helped develop the Department of Ethnic Studies, as well as Women’s Studies. In 1974, she became active in the American Indian Movement (AIM) and the International Indian Treaty Council, beginning a lifelong commitment to international human rights. In 1981, she was asked to visit Sandinista Nicaragua to appraise the land tenure situation of the Miskitu Indians in the northeastern region of the country. In over a hundred trips to Nicaragua and Honduras from 1981 to 1989, she monitored the U.S.-sponsored counterrevolution known as the Contra War; her book, Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War was published in 2005. In 2014 she published An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States. See more at her web site, reddirtsite.com.

Publicity photo of Gil Fagiani in black sweater and beret looking straight at viewer.

Gil Fagiani

Gil Fagiani is an author, poet and translator. He was a social worker and  director of a residential treatment program for recovering alcoholics in Brooklyn, New York for twenty years.  He is a cofounder for Italian Americans for a Multicultural U.S. (IAMUS), and sits on the Board of Directors of the Brecht Forum.  Gil was a former member of White Lightning.

Photo of David Gilbert smiling and looking straight at the viewer.

David Gilbert

David Gilbert is a North American political prisoner. In high school in Boston he was strongly impacted by the Civil Rights Movement; “In 1965 he started the Vietnam Committee at Columbia University in NY and became a founding member of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) there. In 1967, David authored the first SDS pamphlet on US Imperialism and participated in the Columbia Strike of 1968. After about 5 years of organizing in the above ground movement, David joined the revolutionary underground, spending a total of 10 years engaging in building a clandestine resistance movement.[In 1981]  he and other comrades were captured at Nyack, NY during an attempted expropriation by a unit of the Black Liberation Army working with white revolutionaries … During the expropriation attempt, 3 officers were killed. Charged and convicted of felony murder, David is serving a 75-year to life sentence. While in prison, David has been actively involved in the struggle against AIDS, and has remained a staunch opponent of oppression still dedicated to human liberation. He is also a longtime advisor and collaborator in the annual Certain Days Free Political Prisoners Calendar project, and the author of two books and several pamphlets. David’s most recent book is entitled Love and Struggle: My Life in SDS, the Weather Underground, and Beyond.” — Kersplebedeb

Molly Hein grew up in Washington Heights, New York City, in the shadow of the George Washington Bridge.  She landed in Minneapolis in 2004, just in time to participate in the first B-Girl Be: A Celebration of Women in Hip Hop summit. After a few years of freelance aerosol art and illustration work, she decided to go back to school to develop her graphic design skills at Minneapolis College of Art & Design.  Molly illustrated Classified: How to Stop Hiding Your Privilege and Use it For Social Change.

Pen and ink drawing of hooks stroking her chin thoughtfully with a small smile

bell hooks illustrated by Lina Walde

bell hooks (b. 1952) is an African-American author, feminist, and social activist. Her writing has focused on the interconnectivity of race, class, and gender and their ability to produce and perpetuate systems of oppression and domination. She has published over thirty books and numerous scholarly and mainstream articles, appeared in several documentary films and participated in various public lectures. Primarily through a postmodern female perspective, she has addressed race, class, and gender in education, art, history, sexuality, mass media and feminism.

Photo of Michael James, balding and smiling, sitting in his cafe

Michael James in his Heartland Cafe, Chicago. (Photo: DNAinfo/Benjamin Woodard)

Michael James helped to publish Rising Up Angry, an underground political newspaper in Chicago, from 1969 to 1975. In 1976 he co-founded The Heartland Cafe. He is also co-publisher of the Heartland Journal.




Paul Kivel photo

Paul Kivel

Paul Kivel, social justice educator, activist, and writer, has been an innovative leader in violence prevention for some 30 years. He is an accomplished trainer and speaker on men’s issues, racism and diversity, challenges of youth, teen dating and family violence, raising boys to manhood, and the impact of class and power on daily life. Paul has developed highly effective participatory and interactive methodologies for training youth and adults in a variety of settings. he is the author of Uprooting Racism: How White People Can Work for Racial Justice, Men’s Work, Making the Peace, Helping Teens Stop Violence, Boys Will Be Men, I Can Make My World A Safer Place, and  You Call This a Democracy?: Who Benefits, Who Pays, and Who Really Decides.

Publicity photo of Betsy Leondar-Wright

Betsy Leondar-Wright

Betsy Leondar-Wright is a longtime economic justice activist who has seen class tensions cause rifts in the anti-nuclear, feminist, welfare rights and globalization movements, among others.  She has been the Communications Director at United for a Fair Economy.  She co-authored Shifting Fortunes: The Perils of the Growing American Wealth Gap and the classism chapter in Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice. She lives in Arlington, Massachusetts, with her life partner, Gail Leondar-Wright.

Photo of Karen Pittelman in glasses, smiling, holding placard opposing wealth inequality

Karen Pittelman

Karen Pittelman dissolved her $3 million trust fund to co-found the Chahara Foundation, a fund run by and for low-income women activists in Boston. She was also the first program director for Resource Generation, which helped to launch the book and she co-founded the Trans Justice Funding Project. She leads Brooklyn queer country band Karen & the Sorrows and is co-producer of the Gay Ole Opry.

Screen grab of David Rothkopf from World News

David Rothkopf, CEO of the Foreign Policy group and of Gartner Rothkopf

David Rothkopf (1955–) is CEO of the corporation that publishes Foreign Policy magazine. “He is also President and CEO of Garten Rothkopf, an international advisory firm specializing in … energy, security, and emerging markets … Prior to the establishment of Garten Rothkopf, Rothkopf was the chairman, CEO, and co-founder of Intellibridge Corporation, a leading provider of international analysis and open-source intelligence for the U.S. national security community and selected investors, financial organizations and other corporations. Before founding Intellibridge, Rothkopf was managing director of Kissinger Associates, the international advisory firm founded and chaired by former U.S. Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger. Immediately prior to joining Kissinger Associates, Rothkopf served as Acting U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade.” – Wikipedia

Black and white photo of Bobby Lee Rush in suit and tie with gray mustache, with Emory Douglas and Kathleen Cleaver behind him on either side, leaning on his shoulders

Representative Bobby Lee Rush (Dem) backed by Emory Douglas and Kathleen Cleaver. (Photo: Platon)

Bobby Lee Rush (b. 1946) moved from Georgia to Chicago with his family in the early 1950s. “In 1963 after dropping out of high school, Rush joined the U.S. Army. While stationed in Chicago in 1966, he joined the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. In 1968, he went AWOL from the Army and co-founded the Illinois chapter of the Black Panthers,” becoming its Minister of Defense. “He later received an honorable discharge from the Army.”  He was instrumental in bringing together the first Rainbow Coalition’s teaming of the Puerto Rican Young Lords and the white Young Patriots Organization. In the 1970s he earned a BA and Master’s degrees in political science and theology and became the pastor of the Beloved Community Christian Church of Chicago. After serving as an alderman under Mayor Harold Washington, Rush was elected in 1992 as the U.S. Representative for Illinois’s 1st congressional district, defeating Barack Obama. His Congressional biography describes him as “a transcendent American leader who … believes in the redemptive power of the human spirit … His life is an example of our nation’s fundamental promise and his work reflects a deep determination to bend the arc of government resources and innovation towards the needs of every American … Over the years he has obtained millions of dollars in grants for libraries, museums, municipalities, police departments, hospitals, schools and programs that support the arts.” – U.S. House of Representatives.

Publicity photo of James Tracy, balding, in black framed glasses

Author James Tracy

James Tracy is an author and organizer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. His articles on social movements and urban studies have appeared in Race, Poverty and the Environment, Left Turn, AREA Chicago, Shelterforce, Dollars and Sense, Z, Processed World, and the Contemporary Justice Review. He co-founded the Eviction Defense Network during the nineties and serves currently on the Board Of Directors of the San Francisco Community Land Trust. More at jamestracybooks.org.

* Note: number of pages refers to pages within the PDF file to provide a sense of the download size, not the number of pages of readings included. Links to external web sites open in a new page.

Previous: Session 7: Imperialism | List of Sessions
Next: Session 9: Grassroots Fundraising

About the Anne Braden Anti-Racist Training
Program for white social justice activists