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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 ideas.

"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.

I don’t 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.

I really 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 should.

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.

— Amy