I just read Grassroots and thought it was amazing.
We read it for my social change class and I now
wish I had the money to distribute it to every
high school and college aged kid in America. So
kudos on a great guide! I have some constructive
criticism that I am inserting into a paper that
is due tomorrow. I will actually cut out the text
from my paper so I don't have to re-formulate my
"With all the enthusiasm I felt I still had
a few criticisms to offer. The first minor issue
I had was with abortion. Whole heartedly I believe
a woman should be able to choose to have an abortion
or not. But I feel that there is a very important
step that precedes pregnancy and that is education,
real sex education not the abstinence only promotion.
My stance is pro-choice heavily weighted in education
and I felt Baumgardner and Richards seemed to be
almost promoting pro-abortion. When they discussed
providing rides and raising money for abortions
I felt as though they left out an important piece
of the conversation. My second concern was regarding
class and race. The book seemed to be mostly catering
to people in a place of privilege. I do think this
makes a degree of sense since they probably have
more resources available to them.
want to be too critical of the authors in this
area because I know it is easier to discuss what
you know and speak about areas and issues one is
comfortable. I think by not addressing race and
class a little more thoroughly it is one of the
issues women of color would have with feminism
and possibly this book. Race wasn’t specifically
excluded if someone read the book they would see
some related topics. But I do believe there is
a group of people left out due to their socio-economic
status and as race and class are interconnected,
to leave out class is to a degree also to leave
out race. Racial issues were eluded to however
not specifically addressed. When discussing the
wage gap on college campuses it was only specific
to men and women, race was not an element in the
research. Maybe there was no issue with race and
wages, but I would venture to say it probably was
a factor given statistics across the United States.
Similarly socio economic status was touched upon
in the sense that homeless people, disadvantaged
kids and others were getting support with “We
Can”, “Pipeline” and “Dress
for Success” but again there was an element
missing. Since the authors established that youth
have the energy, time and intelligence to create
change I personally was wondering if young people
in poor communities were making advancements in
the same way as the college and high school girls
in other areas."
Sorry it is a little long, but I really wanted
to go directly to the source and find an answer.
I am sure you are very busy and these are not typical
questions that you would receive but I felt like
I just had to ask.
appreciate your perspective and thoughtful criticism.
On the issue of race and class (though they are
very different issues) we very deliberately tried
to remove racial and economic inferences unless
they were very germane to the example. We did
this in our first book Manifesta as
well — and
did so because we didn't want to preference white
and middle class people and thus would have been
in the position of having to identify everyone
by their race and/or economic signifier. So those
more obvious references to race and economics
were deliberately eliminated. That said...of
course, we could always have done more. Also,
I think that we tried to have a broader definition
of diversity — region in the U.S., U.S.
and abroad, older/younger, urban/rural, religious/non
religions, white/not-white, etc. So in attempting
to do more, I think we come across as appearing
to do less.
On the issue of abortion — it's funny
because perhaps we wrote that in a different
state of consciousness because neither of us
would ever "push abortion" — though
we would work for it's legality and also work
to make abortion and issues related to abortion
more accessible — such as birth control,
health insurance, sex education. As we do state
in Grassroots, I think we also see abortion
has representing something larger than that actual
procedure, though that word is intentionally
bantered about in an attempt to stigmatize it.
There is study we reference where the most pro-choice
states are consistently the most pro-child states
and vice versa, thus proof that working on this
issue is simultaneously about working on other
issues, too. Also, I think it is the most beleaguered
of all reproductive issues and thus is worthy
of more attention — not that it means we
all have to support it or that we can let it
dominate it, but those who want to work on it
I hope this all makes sense. Also, following
up on your initial note....can I send you 5 copies
of Grassroots so you can share with friends?
I would love to do that. If yes, please send
me your address.