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Spotlight the possibilities of cross-group collective power

Despite the reality of intra- and inter-group tensions, our research has also found significant indicators of nascent solidarity and potential for strengthened connections between and among identity groups. This was particularly evident when it came to recognition across communities of color of one another’s under-representation in politics. In our research in the Inland Empire, for example, more than half of Latinxs and half of Black Americans said that the other group has “too little” influence on California politics. Indeed, we discovered a “widespread sense of solidarity within these groups to the extent to which all communities of color are squeezed out by whites’ occupation of political space. It is not only their own groups that Black and Latinx residents see as deserving more influence, but one another’s as well.”Clark and Araiza, “Margins in Movement,” Part III.

Furthermore, both our survey of the Inland Empire as well as our survey of California in 2017 found that members of the Latinx and Black communities were more likely to say that their main competition for jobs was with whites—not one another. 

These results suggest that there are existing foundations and perceived commonalities in which to ground cross-group bridging and power building. The need is to build narratives that center a resonant vision of an encompassing “we” with agency and ability to make change. While we want to avoid putting forth uncomplicated, and ultimately unconvincing, story lines in which everyone simply “comes together and gets along,” we can acknowledge tensions between and among groups while also lifting up the enormous potential of the collective in fighting for justice. Indeed, a strong narrative for belonging must undertake the double movement of both meeting target constituents where they are in terms of what “rings true” with their identities and experiences, while also figuring out how to stretch them to open up to collective action they may not otherwise have taken. We don’t draw attention to cleavages only to keep attention there, which would be disempowering. Instead, we expose and name them as our collective charge to overcome; when we do that, we can achieve nearly anything.

“We can acknowledge tensions between and among groups while also lifting up the enormous potential of the collective in fighting for justice.”

The outcome of this process should be the building of durable bridges between different identity groups. To be clear, bridging is not about “saming”—that is, subsuming or erasing existing smaller “we” identities as we create a bigger “we.” Bridging creates a space that’s larger than the sum of its parts, that honors and affirms the multiple identities that individuals and groups have and bring to the table, but also values what can only come about when we extend who we are beyond our own identity group(s) and build something bigger. And that is the possibility of the collective that we want to spotlight in a strategic narrative for belonging.

Case Study
Can You See It?

In the lead-up to the 2020 election, we partnered with California Calls on Can You See It?, a Writers Guild Award-nominated digital short that calls on Californians—particularly young voters of color—to exercise their civic power to address the state’s major structural inequalities. The story line centrally follows a young Latina woman biking through her neighborhood imagining all the ways her community could benefit from greater resources. While the storyline is simple and the message clear (our communities could have everything they need if corporations paid their fair share), the video concludes with a call for solidarity: “We know where we come from and all that we accomplish, together … We have the power of we, and together we are more powerful than any corporation.”

For more information, read this blog explicating the analysis behind the narrative.



Case Study
We Are California

Similarly, Blueprint for Belonging partnered with California Calls before the 2018 midterm elections for a get-out-the-vote video entitled We Are California. This digital short called out numerous tropes often used to denigrate young people (e.g., they’re disconnected, confused, and don’t know about love), juxtaposing them against images demonstrating the contrary. It concludes by affirming “We’re the future—and it doesn’t matter what they say. It matters what we say.”

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