2013 Session 8: Deconstructing Class–Building Analysis and Power – Readings

2013 Anne Braden Anti-Racist Training Program
Session 8: Deconstructing Class – Building Analysis and Power

Required Readings

  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. 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).
  3. 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).
  4. Donna Langston, “Tired of Playing Monopoly” from Margaret L. Andersen and Patricia Hill Collins, eds., Race, Class, and Gender: An Anthology. (6 page PDF: Langston_Tired_of_Monopoly).
  5. bell hooks, “Feminism and Class Power” from Where We Stand: Class Matters. (11 page PDF: hooks_Feminism_and_Class_Power). (bio).
  6. 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).
  7. Gil Fagiani, “Community Organizing: White Working Class Communities – 1970s” (4 page PDF: White_Working_Class_Neighborhoods_Fagiani). (bio).
  8. James Tracy, “The (Original) Rainbow Coalition – An Interview with Bobby Lee”. (1 page PDF: Original_Rainbow_Coalition_Tracy). (Tracy bio; Lee bio).
  9. The Patriot People’s News Service, cover. (hard copy).
  10. The Young Patriots, Program. (1 page PDF: Patriot_Program).
  11. The Young Patriots, flyer for NYC benefit. (1 page PDF: Young_Patriot_Flyer_NYC).

Recommended Readings

  1. Barbara Joyce, “The Young Patriots”. (3 page PDF*: Joyce_Young_Patriots).
  2. White Lightning (newspaper), cover and article. (3 page PDF: White_Lightning_pp).
  3. “Organizing Poor Whites in Chicago: A Chronology”. (1 page PDF: Organizing_Poor_Whites_Chicago_chron).
  4. 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).
  5. Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, “Red Diaper Baby?” from Red Dirt: Growing Up Okie. (6 page PDF: Dunbar-Ortiz_Red_Diaper_Baby). (bio).
  6. Linda Stout, “PPP: Creating Our Own Model for Social Change” from Bridging the Class Divide. (13 page PDF: Stout_Piedmont_Peace_Project). (bio).

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.

Photo of "Historians Against the War" panel.

Howard Zinn, Andrea Smith, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

Author Biographies

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. See more at her web site, reddirtsite.com.

Gil Fagiani is a social worker and the director of a residential treatment program for recovering alcoholics in Brooklyn, New York.  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.

David Gilbert is a North American political prisoner. The Civil Rights struggle of the 60s exposed David to the sham of US democracy and embodied the beauty of collective struggle. 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 living clandestinely, actively resisting imperialism with arms. On October 20, 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 (known as the Revolutionary Armed Task Force- RATF). 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 Free Political Prisoners Calendar project.

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.

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.

Michael James is the co-founder and co-director of The Heartland Cafe and co-publisher of the Heartland Journal.

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. His work gives people the understanding to become involved in social justice work and the tools to become more effective allies in community struggles to end oppression and injustice and to transform organizations and institutions.
Kivel is the author of numerous books and curricula, including 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 most recently, You Call This a Democracy?: Who Benefits, Who Pays, and Who Really Decides.

Bobby Lee moved to Chicago in the late 1960s as a VISTA volunteer, and joined the Black Panther Party. He was instrumental in bringing together the first Rainbow Coalition’s teaming of the Puerto Rican Young Lords and the white Young Patriots Organization.

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.

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.

Resource Generation is a national non-profit organization that works with young people with wealth who believe in social change.

Linda Stout grew up in North Carolina, daughter of a “mill-town girl” and a tenant farmer, later a mill worker. She was a 13th generation Quaker who grew up inspired by the Quakers’ tradition of speaking up for their beliefs.  She started the Piedmont Peace Project in North Carolina in 1984, and with others slowly built it into one of the strongest multi-racial, multi-issue low-income organizations in the state. After 10 years at PPP, she moved on in search of how to build power and do movement building at the national level. She moved to Massachusetts and directed a foundation, the Peace Development Fund, before starting a new organization, Spirit in Action, where she is now the director.

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 jamestracywords.com.

* 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.

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