Class Matters Workshops

Download this brochure for more information on Class Matters workshops.

If you're interested in hosting a workshop, please click here for a brochure, or contact me about booking an event.

Order Class Matters

Class Matters book cover

Order Class Matters: Cross-Class Alliance Building for Middle-Class Activists by Betsy Leondar-Wright (New Society Publishers, 2005).

Press Coverage of CM

Classist Comments

What's the most classist thing you ever heard someone say?

(I'm not talking about someone like Bill O'Reilly or your right-wing uncle. More specifically, what's the most classist thing you ever heard a liberal or progressive person say?)

Read five interviewees' answers — and my own.

Class and Other Identities

How do you experience class differently because of your race, ethnic group, religion, gender, age, or other identity? What class dynamics do you notice within your identity groups?

Here's how a few visitors answered those questions:

And answers from the Class Matters book:

Middle-Class Organizers in Working-Class Communities

Dorian Warren

Dorian Warren

The primary principle for organizers is to empower working-class people and people of color. Don't do things for people but help them to come together collectively and speak for themselves. That's the difference between uplift ideology and the democratic vision. And there should be accountability. You can elect representatives, but the process of figuring out priorities should happen democratically.

There's a difference between middle-class activists who speak for people, versus middle-class organizers who organize working class people. I think organizers, across class, understand the value of people demanding things for themselves. Middle-class activists, on the other hand, feel like they can be the brokers for other people. And they think they are the best qualified to do it, because of their class status. It drives me absolutely crazy when they don't understand the value of actually organizing. They want other people to do the work. Then they can speak at the event, get the press coverage, and broker the deal. But they don't want to do the work of doing what it takes to get 200 people to the rally. That takes a lot of work. All those people didn't turn out just because they saw your name on the flyer!

It's a tricky balance. I don't think middle-class people should be silent, because if we do have some skills or insights or strategies, I think we should put them on the table. That doesn't mean our way is what will happen. But we should be able to contribute, and say "what about this, what about that." But I do think it's a hard balance to use our skills, but in a way that is ethical and that is not exercising power by virtue of our class status.

It's a balancing act, to believe that people can decide for themselves, to critically interrogate your power relations, and not to lose your critical faculties.

The most active black students on my campus tended to be the first or second people in their family to go to college. We felt that whatever it took to get us in there, we had to make sure we expanded that opportunity for others. We needed to connect with the black working-class community outside of the campus, as well as with the employees of the college. That was a way for us to reconcile this internal tension we felt about moving up the class ladder. We said to ourselves, "This is uncomfortable, this is what our parents worked so hard for us to do, but it is clearly giving us privileges that we never had before, so now how do we deal with that?" We tried to organize black employees and community members not by coming in as these elite, college-educated know-it-alls, but in a popular education way: pulling from people's own experiences, drawing on skills they might already have, but also leaving them with some additional political skills that they could use beyond our time there.

— Dorian Warren