General overview of Race-Class Narrative messaging

The Race-Class Academy is a series of 12 short videos organized into four levels. It is narrated by Ian Haney-Lopez and walks us through the concept of the Race-Class Narrative and why it works. Each video is accompanied by 1-2 page Study Guides that help to cement the core messages

This 50-minute video is of a presentation given in Australia in 2019 by Anat Shenker-Osorio. It gives an overview of using Race-Class Narrative messaging in a fun, engaging way

Can Democracy Survive Racism as a Strategy, Ian Haney López, part of Protect Democracy series ‘The Democracy Endgame’.

Using the Race-Class Narrative to talk about workers

This 42-minute video is of a presentation given in Australia in 2015 by Anat Shenker-Osorio. It gives an overview of using Race-Class Narrative to talk about workers and the work they do. It is a very helpful guide to using this approach to talk about many of the specific issues we are focusing on.

We Make the Future Messaging Guide

We Make the Future is the national group that is leading the way on using Race-Class Narrative messaging. Their handbook gives an in-depth look at using Race-Class Narrative messaging for some of the most pressing issues we confront today.

You should focus especially on the first 13 pages. There is also messaging guidance on a wide array of specific issues that you can use when appropriate to guide your communication.


Strategic Messaging

Justice in Healing: This series of short video segments is from a longer course from the Resistance School. The course was taught by Anat Shenker-Osorio and teaches the basics of messaging, the core concepts that inform the Race-Class Narrative approach.

National COVID-19 Messaging Guide  This is a helpful guide from Race Class Narrative Action on how to use the Race-Class Narrative when talking about healthcare issues, including COVID-19.


  • Your message is useless unless it spreads.
  • Don’t use the passive voice. “Corporate owners are cutting wages” instead of “Wages are falling”. Make it clear who is doing something. In other words, who did what should not be nebulous. PRO TIP: This often has a side benefit of making your sentences shorter.
  • Talk about the services people provide to us (“the people who care for us when we are sick”, “the people who cook and serve our food”) rather than simply calling them “workers”. At the very least, refer to them as “working people.” Data tells us this makes a huge difference.
  • Don’t take your policy out in public. Talk about what the policy DOES, not what it IS.
  • Reclaim “family” and “freedom”. This can be done for nearly all issues.
  • Don’t “meet people where they are” with your message. “Where we are” is typically a place we do not want to be. Be aspirational, show them what’s possible. Make popular what needs to be said/heard. We aren’t taking the temperature, we’re changing it.
  • Messaging using both race and class cannot be “dependent clause” messaging. “No matter how much you get paid or what race you identify with, wealthy special interests are working to [fill in the villainous thing] by dividing us and keeping us fighting amongst ourselves” instead of “Powerful elites are working to [fill in the villainous thing doing], and that impacts African Americans more than anyone else.” Adding the racial element cannot be an afterthought. In other words, we have to move from “either/or” & “both/and” to a message that intertwines the two.
  • Your message should be persuasive to your base as well as so-called “persuadables”. It should NOT be persuasive to your opponents. It should turn them off, preferably without triggering an aggressive response.
  • Negating-type messages that are negative about our opposition are far less impactful than positive, affirmational messages about what can be. In other words, say what you are FOR, not what you are AGAINST. What you fight, you feed.
  • Talking about our opposition’s efforts to divide & conquer and their shaming & blaming of people of color as well as narrating their scapegoating are far more effective than explicit accusations of racism.
  • The three core elements of the RCN are:
    • Cross-racial solidarity
    • Shared prosperity and racial justice
    • Government for all

Invoking past successes can make your message stronger.