At the Society we are engaging a conversation about white privilege and systemic racism, and we do so with courage, curiosity, and compassion for ourselves and for others. Understanding white privilege is not about being ashamed but rather about being responsible. This space will serve as a curated reading list to enlighten our understanding of white privilege and racism. (Shout out to Molly Illes for resources and support.)
What are you reading that helps you better understand white privilege and systemic racism? Send me an with a title and link; perhaps we’ll include it on the page here.
Look for discussion opportunities throughout the 2015-16 program year.
Pedagogy of the Oppressed – Paulo Friere
Understanding and Dismantling Racism – Joseph Barndt
Dismantling Privilege: An Ethics of Accountability – Mary Elizabeth Hobgood
The Slums of Aspen – Lisa Sun-Hee Park and David Pellow
Learning to Be White: Money, Race, and God in America – Thandeka
Racist America: Roots, Current Realities, and Future Reparations – Joe R. Feagin
Soul Work: Anti-racist Theologies in Dialogue – Marjorie Bowens-Wheatley and Nancy Palmer Jones, eds.
Legislative advocacy is using data and personal stories to persuade your legislator to vote a certain way on legislation or appropriations. In terms of social justice, legislative advocacy is a tool to create change at the systems level.
Do background research in order to build rapport and tailor your message. Good places to start include their official web site, social media, and articles in the newspaper.
2. Know Yourself
When contacting your legislator, be clear about your own values, priorities, and passions. Weaving this into your message makes it more compelling.
3. Build Your Message
Frame your message using positive words that are non-partisan and non-polarizing. Do not blame or point fingers; instead, suggest forward actions and provide a practical solution to the problem. Research your facts. Talking points are often available from nonprofit and advocacy groups related to your issue.
4. Deliver Your Message
A meeting with your legislator should be no more than five minutes, and a letter no more than one page long. Introduce yourself as a constituent and limit small talk. Begin by telling your personal story (e.g. “I’m here because…”). Frame the message using facts, but limit to one or two. Too many facts will be overwhelming and make your message forgettable. Have a one-page summary to hand to your legislator and highlight the talking points. Then pivot and ask directly for their support. Close the meeting by thanking them for their time and how you will follow up. For example, “I will call your office next week to see if you have any additional questions.”
Easy Ways to Get Started
Many organizations host lobby days or “Day on the Hill” where they provide training on the message and talking points and schedule group appointments with your legislator. This is a great way to start out doing advocacy.