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:

Tips from Working-Class Activists

Watch Your Language

The Rainbow Party and Green Party were merging. Our meetings with the white middle-class guys from the Green Party were challenging, to say the least. The Rainbow Party thought it was going to whip them into shape — but it needed to deal with its own internal racism and classism. A man on board of Rainbow Party said a "$25,000 word." I said, "Do you have a dictionary for that word?" He laughed and went on. I said, "No, really, I need to know what that word means," and he went on. So I stopped the meeting and said, "This is the problem, the Rainbow Party is trying to influence the Green Party and we can't even talk among ourselves." Turns out he had made up the word. He was laughing because everybody but me knew it didn't exist.

— Lisa Richards

When I was a college undergrad, I went to a Socialist Party meeting. They went on and on, talking in a way that was abstract, competitive, abstract, unrelated to my life experience — and did I mention abstract? I concluded, "That's interesting, but it's not for a working-class guy like me." It was years before I realized the irony of a socialist group not being relevant to working-class people.

— George Lakey

Language has been one of the larger barriers I've seen. In materials written for college-educated people, the educational level is greater than, for example, members of the Piedmont Peace Project could relate to. It's not just the words, it's the whole context of the way things are written.

When we had built a strong base of power, so national groups wanted to work in coalition with us, they would say "Give this to your members." But the material was absolutely impossible. So the only way we could work in coalition was to take the materials and translate them into our own language. So if the peace movement called up and said there's this big effort against the MX missile, we would have to say, "give us all the information, how much it costs," and then we'd have to think how much housing that money would buy. We'd have to make the links to things that made it important to our community. We'd beg them to do the translation, but they didn't see the need, or they couldn't quite do it because they could only see it from their perspectives.

It's not about avoiding all big words. We brought an economist in from New York who used big words, but she was able to explain them to us so we understood.

— Linda Stout