The staff of ACCE Institute is committed to helping community members unpack and tackle the issues that most negatively impact their lives –especially as they help lead to economic, racial and social justice. It is in that tradition that last fall ACCE Institute decided to develop an analysis and framework through which organizations and their members can view issues and develop campaign plans taking into account Race and Class, two of the most impactful and divisive systems of oppression people face today. While we acknowledge that other critical systems of oppression are at play in people’s lives and must be addressed, we have chosen to focus on Race and Class because of their particularly significant role in the equity gaps people face here in California.
After months of research, planning, and testing we are excited to roll out our combined racial and economic justice (REJ) training program with organizers and community members.
The reality of WHO poverty impacts in California has a strong racial dimension. The WHAT and WHY’s of upcoming battles for poor Californians will continue to have a strong racial dynamic that is largely un-named in the strategic orientation of most economic justice groups. However, the critical work of uniting poor folks across racial lines, including non-people of color, is a strategy that many racial justice groups do not utilize, leaving those movements unnecessarily smaller than they need to be to tackle their issues. A singular focus on economic disparity or racial inequity without a strong racial AND economic justice analysis does not accurately reflect the political landscape in California. This partial diagnosis leads to strategies and campaign decisions that do not holistically address the reality of the base we seek to organize, does not accurately assess nor address the motivations of the opposition, and misses a key component to reaching the field of would-be sympathizers.
The REJ training lays out an analysis and framework that is intended to facilitate an organizational learning dialogue around the intersection of racial and economic justice where key players in the organization build shared language, surface difference, and align around commonalities. They then can begin to think openly and critically about how this new strategic orientation can be applied to campaign work. The goal is to help organizations to see the broader impact of their issues, which enables them to make campaign decisions that more accurately and adequately take on those issues. The result leads to more focused campaign outcomes that impact a wider set of people.