Building Cross-Racial Coalitions with the Working-Class

Authors: Stacy Harwood*, University of Utah
Topics: Qualitative Research, Ethnicity and Race, Immigration/Transnationalism
Keywords: white working class, coalition building, cross-racial
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Marriott Ballroom Salon 3, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

This presentation explores the possibilities and challenges for cross-racial coalition building in white working-class communities. The fieldwork for this project took place in Dayton, Ohio where we ran a program to engage diverse working-class residents in a process of getting to know each other with a purpose. We provided childcare, interpreters, refreshments and a small stipend. We designed a structure for every to get to know each other first, then moved towards working together on something concrete. We also identified connections between residents and to help English speaking residents connect with non-English speaking residents, for example informing them they lived in the same street or had kids in the same classroom. As the residents became more comfortable with each other, we built up their capacity to work together. They practiced new skills (working in groups, listening, talking in front of strangers, discomfort with new languages, breaking problems down into manageable pieces, asking questions). By the end, many of the residents noted having more self-confidence. The process expanded the imagination of what was possible for both the residents and teachers/interpreters involved and unleashed a tremendous amount of energy that the participants did not know they had inside them. Cross-racial coalition building requires tremendous support and requires recourses, skills, and intentionality. Race, ethnicity, language, nationality add complexity, but bring diverse people together is possible.

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