Movement Education Program -- 2014 Program Materials

The Movement Building internal education project is provided as a tool for Move to Amend volunteers to help us be more effective organizers.

The centralizing of the anti-oppression and movement building education is to help Move to Amend leaders at the local and national level be knowledgeable and sensitized/sensitive to the realities of oppression and racism -- both institutionally and personally -- so we are better equipped to build relationships with organizers from oppressed communities, communities of color, and with those on the frontline of the struggle against injustice and corporate rule.

Move to Amend does not expect us to take on educating the general public about oppression and racism as a primary task. The ultimate goal is to have the skills necessary to build solidarity and trust across differences such as race, class, and sex in order to grow a mass movement of "We the People" that is strong enough to win against corporate rule.

Table of Contents

--> Click the links below to jump down to the readings and questions for each session.

1. Intro: Letter to Affiliate Coordinators Announcing MTA's Movement Building Internal Education Project

2. Part I: Define oppression and how it damages us and our movements.

3. Part II: Why Build a Movement?

August 8, 2013

Dear Move to Amend Affiliate leaders,

In the past month, Move to Amend national leadership and affiliates have been confronting some big questions about our movement to end corporate rule. In these conversations we have been forced to grapple with issues of oppression, social justice, and movement building, and discuss how they connect with our goal to amend the Constitution to abolish corporate personhood.

These conversations have been difficult but critical, and we believe they are signs of a healthy movement practicing the very kind of democracy we seek to establish--one where we have hard conversations, clarify our values, and figure out how to work together to achieve our goals.

In this process, we on the National Leadership Team have learned a lot. We remain committed to a movement that centralizes the experiences and realities of communities most impacted by corporate rule, and to building a democracy movement that passes the We the People Amendment to build a government and legal system that can be the foundation of a just world for everyone. However, we have also realized that we have not provided the clarity, mentorship and resources that we should have in order to make our commitments understandable and doable for our affiliates on the ground.

We chose to view this recent dialogue as a chance to provide the mentorship and tools that many affiliates have been asking for. We have spent the last month working long hours to develop an Affiliate Curriculum that provides a framework for our commitment to movement-building and anti-oppression as key parts of our amendment effort. This curriculum includes sessions on democracy, effective past social movements, corporate rule and oppression, and the value of movement building, and ends with concrete suggestions for how to implement these in your affiliate group.

We will kick off this curriculum with our monthly MTA Coalition Call on August 20 where we will frame out the project and field questions about why we have created it. This will be followed by conference calls organized by state or region where affiliates will discuss Move to Amend’s commitment to centralizing race and building a democracy movement with two National Leadership Team members.

After that, we will begin an eleven-session curriculum to dig into these subjects more. All members of our National Team have committed to work more closely with you to explore these issues more deeply.

We are asking you as affiliates to commit to this curriculum and use this as a resource to learn more about what Move to Amend means when we talk about democracy, movement building and oppression.

We will refrain from sending the Open Letter/Memo out until Move to Amend has collectively gone through this curriculum experience together, and we have a chance to discuss next steps with affiliates where we have a common background and in a common language.

We ask that all affiliate members engage in this process with us.

We realize that everyone is busy, and taking time to study and deliberate can feel like a luxury we cannot afford. But when we’re in that mode we try to remember the Buddhist proverb: “We have little time; therefore, it is important that we move very slowly.”

We know that you’re doing this work because you believe it is critical to our situation as Americans and human beings on this planet in this critical moment. We are too! We’re eager for this opportunity to work more closely with you and educate ourselves and each other more deeply about the vision, goals, and strategy of Move to Amend.

Sincerely yours,

Ashley Sanders, Daniel Lee, David Cobb, Egberto Willies, George Friday, Jerome Scott, Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap, Laura Bonham, Maria Agosto, Nancy Price, Pamela Brown, Richard Monje

Move to Amend National Leadership Team

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Conference Call Number

Conference Call Number: 209-647-1600
Participant Code: 458936#

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Session 1 

Objective:

Define oppression, learn how corporate rule benefits from oppression, and learn how oppression damages democracy and our chances of winning this fight against corporate rule.

Readings:

Discussion Questions:

  1. What emotional reactions did you have reading these excerpts?
  2. How did you think about racism and other oppressions before reading these excerpts? How would you describe the difference between prejudice and discrimination?
  3. In what ways do the impacts of corporate rule go beyond the impacts of corporate personhood? Why do we need to address both? Why is our fight against corporate personhood connected to social justice issues?
  4. How does the way we tend to talk about democracy, the amendment effort, and our organizing strategy privilege the attitudes, behaviors, beliefs, standards, history and values of white, class-comfortable, and/or male people and cultures? What can people with these privileges afford to believe about democracy that others cannot? Give specific examples.
  5. Talk about a time when your privilege became visible for you--when it turned from something you considered to be accurate, deserved and reflective of reality to something you saw as inaccurate, unearned and reflective of your position in society. What did you learn from this experience?

Session 2 

Objective:

Learn how oppression shows up in human relationships and explore how we can build our Move to Amend groups so that all people can participate fully, making it possible for us to win this fight against corporate rule.

Readings:

Discussion Questions:

  1. What emotional response did you have to these readings/excerpts?
  2. Describe a situation where you had micro-aggression directed toward you (could be sexism, racism, homophobia, ageism, classism). How did you feel? What do you do (or not do)? Was there anyone else present, if so what did they do?
  3. Describe a situation where you or someone else you were with participated in a micro-aggression (could be any oppression). Did you realize it was happening at the time? What do you do (or not do)? How did you feel?
  4. How can we intentionally craft the culture and dynamics of our Move to Amend groups so that people of color/women/young people/queer people (folks who are different than the "mainstream"/or majority of our current members) feel safe/welcomed/that there is a place for them to participate fully?

Session 3 

Objective:

Define white supremacy, learn how it benefits corporate rule while weakening the power of the People. Explore how we can build our Move to Amend groups so that all people can participate fully, making it possible for us to win this fight against corporate rule.

Readings:

"Extra Credit" (these are great articles if you'd like to dive deeper)

Discussion Questions:

  • Is anti-racist work a divisive impediment to building movements, or is it helpful in strengthening movement building efforts? How so?
  • In the 1600s servant-class whites accepted the new right/mandate to carry guns, when blacks were not allowed to possess weapons. How did this both benefit the poor whites and limit their power? Can you think of a benefit that you have accepted or been required to claim that others are systematically deprived of? Who does this divide you from, who does it attach you to?
  • How can we use Move to Amend’s work to challenge white supremacy and fight against its political and economic consequences?
  • What gets in the way of you standing up against oppression when you witness it? Are there examples from your own life that you'd like to revisit so you can practice speaking up effectively?

Session 4 

Objective:

Define democracy, political democracy, economic democracy, and participatory democracy. Learn how these distinctions are relevant to our fight against corporate rule. Explore how Move to Amend can incorporate these toward our strategies in order to win.

Readings:

Discussion Questions:

  • Who really fought/won the American Revolution?  How important were ordinary people?
  • Who was a "person" for the purposes of "We the People" in 1787? How and why is this an important question?
  • What is the difference between political and economic democracy? Can we have justice with just one or the other or does justice require both? How does the answer to this question inform the work we should be doing at Move To Amend?
  • How can we implement any of the best practices of Participatory Budgeting, Communal Councils, Mini-Publics and Citizen Initiatives as we do our work?
  • What can we learn from the Zapatistas and the MST?  How can/should these lessons inform our work? What (if anything) should we be doing that we are not?  What (if anything) should we be doing differently?

Session 5 

Objectives:

Learn from an effective past social movement, the Labor Movement, and explore how Move to Amend can incorporate this toward our strategies to win our current fight against corporate rule.

Readings:

Discussion Questions:

  • What was your previous experience with the history of the labor movement and what impact did it have on you to watch the videos and read the chapter?
  • What can we learn from the labor movement about how the divide between the working class and ruling class is relevant to our struggle today?
  • The labor movement saw the necessity of creating political power which resided outside the regular political establishment and kept the movement "close to those sources of human distress which created it". With this people-power base they pressured the official political structures into recognizing their needs. What are the implications of this for MTA?
  • What opportunities do you see for your affiliate to help create this kind of non-establishment people-power base?

Session 6

Objectives:

Learn from an effective past social movement, the Civil Rights Movement, and explore how Move to Amend can incorporate this toward our strategies to win our current fight against corporate rule.

Readings:

Discussion Questions:

  • What was your previous experience with the history of the civil rights movement and what impact did it have on you to do this reading and watch the videos?
  • In SNCC, many black people and white people had their first experience of interacting closely and building relationships with people of different races. Through this interaction, they came to understand how their struggles were intertwined, and this element of human contact and relationships was crucial to SNCCs movement building. If you just go on about your normal way of living it is very easy to be isolated from people who are not part of your everyday life. What kinds of opportunities do you see for yourself and for your affiliate to connect with and build political dialog with people who are different from you in race, class, etc?
  • Discuss how building a movement that is inclusive of the diversity of our struggles around race, class, nationality, language, gender, sexuality, age and ability, etc. impacts our ability to win this fight against corporate rule.
  • What can we learn from SNCC about building a movement to win our "We the People" Amendment?

Session 7

Objectives:

Learn from previous movements that were successful in their efforts to pass an amendment,  and explore how Move to Amend can incorporate those lessons toward our strategies to win our current fight against corporate rule.

Readings:

Discussion Questions:

  • What was your previous experience with the history of these amendments, and what impact did it have on you to do this reading and watch the videos?
  • What role did a multi-faceted, grassroots movement play in the passing of the 19th Amendment?
  • Discuss the implications of calling for a constitutional convention as a strategy for the passing of the 17th Amendment?
  • The Abolitionist article describes how many of them “came to believe…. that a moral commitment to ending slavery took precedent over observing those parts of the Constitution that protected slavery and, in particular, they refused to obey the Fugitive Slave Act.” And in the video, we watch William Lloyd Garrison burn a copy of the Constitution saying, “And this, the Constitution of the United States of America is the source and parent of all the other atrocities. A covenant with death and an agreement with hell. So perish all compromises with tyranny.” Discuss the implications of this radical stance for the abolishment of slavery.

Session 8

Objectives: 

Explore mistakes made by previous social justice movements, and learn how Move to Amend can avoid repeating those mistakes.

Readings:

Discussion Questions:

  • What are some mistakes that each of these movements made in pursuing their goals and what could they have done differently in order to be more successful?
  • How might we at Move to Amend fall into similar traps and how can we organize to guard against these pitfalls?
  • What are some common beliefs about how effective change happens that these authors are challenging?
  • What would it look like for Move to Amend to speak the radical truth of how corporate rule harms us, organize across issues and oppressions, and create and commit to a vision for broad, systemic social justice?

Session 9

Objectives: 

Explore the ways that social justice movements can be co-opted, and learn how Move to Amend can avoid repeating those mistakes.

Readings:

Discussion Questions:

  • What were some common features of co-optation in past movements? Do you see those tactics being used today?

  • In what ways might the elite try to distract, diffuse or dismantle our movement against corporate rule?

  • What might it look like if Move to Amend were co-opted into an establishment movement and how can we protect against that?

  • Many of the movements mentioned in the readings lost their movement power when they were diverted into two-party politics. How can Move to Amend use the Amendment as part of a larger movement for justice and avoid having its legal and electoral arms overshadow its attempt to transform culture and society?

Session 10

Objectives: 

Applying what we've learned (part 1). Explore how Move to Amend can incorporate what we learned in Sessions 1-9 toward our strategies to win our fight against corporate rule.

Readings:

Discussion Questions:

  • What are your affiliates' strengths and weaknesses in terms of preparing to do anti-oppressive organizing?
     
  • What is the difference between charity and solidarity and what difference does it make in your Move to Amend organizing?
     
  • What are the differences between group diversity and committed, anti-oppressive organizing?
     
  • After reading The Center for Whole Communities' anti-oppression statement, how would you describe the reasons that Move to Amend does anti-oppressive, movement organizing?

Assignments:

  • Go through the two organizational assessments as an affiliate and answer the questions and identify areas of weakness and strength.
     
  • Read the article on solidarity and do the exercises in your affiliate group, then discuss what you've learned and how you can apply it to your Move to Amend work.
     
  • Meet with your affiliate group and write your own anti-oppression statement explaining the connections between corporate rule and anti-oppressive organizing. This process may take some time. Once it finished, condense on it with the group and use it in your welcome kit for new volunteers.

Session 11

Objectives: 

Applying what we've learned (part 2). Explore how Move to Amend can incorporate what we learned in sessions 1-9 toward our strategies to win our fight against corporate rule.

Readings:

Discussion Questions:

  • What tools in the anti-racist organizing tipsheet do you feel would be most beneficial for your group to focus on?
     
  • What aspects of movement building do you want to focus on?
     
  • What lessons did you learn from Rural Organizing Project's advice on how to organize white people with a commitment to anti-oppressive organizing and movement building? How could you apply this to your work?
     
  • What are the next steps for your group and what support do you need to take them?

Session 12

Objectives:

Evaluate the program and process. Provide feedback for how to improve the program for the 2014-2015 cycle. Give input on where we go from here.

Feedback Survey

SURVEY LINK -- please complete survey prior to call.

Discussion Questions

  • What stood out from the program? What articles or sessions were the most memorable for you?
     
  • What have you learned and gained through participation in this program? What have you been able to apply that you learned from all this?
     
  • How do you think we could improve this introductory year-long program? What changes would you suggest for next time?
     
  • Were you able to participate in all the sessions? If not, what were the barriers to your participation?
     
  • How should we continue this program and deepen this process? On the national level we have been discussing the question of how to move forward from here—a part two curriculum, reading groups, deeper training of MTA affiliate leaders on curriculum topics?
     
  • Is there anyone on this call who wants to help us facilitate and lead these sessions going forward? Anyone who would like to take part in a short video or write a short statement about your experience with the program?

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