Indigenous Struggles and Decolonization

Sonya Hadley, Isa Hoffman, and Catherine Donson

The following work is meant to serve as an educational resource that highlights Indigenous initiatives, issues of decolonization, and land justice, especially as they relate to the area in and around the Claremont Colleges and to the Tongva people whose land the colleges are on. With a focus on the Etiwanda Preserve (located 15 miles from the colleges) and the Robert Redford Conservancy (located in the Bernard Field Station), this compilation of information touches upon:

  • The natural and cultural importance of sage
  • The detrimental effects of sage poaching 
  • Ways in which settler institutions have collaborated with the Tongva community
  • The role complicity plays in the persistence of modern settler colonialism
  • Information about coalition building currently taking place at the 7Cs around this topic

Through our research process we’ve noted that taking personal accountability for Indigenous education and personal decolonization is a crucial action, and we hope that this resource can help others start this journey that we ourselves are still on.

Sage and the Etiwanda Preserve

The North Etiwanda Preserve is a nature preserve located in Rancho Cucamonga, California. It’s home to an especially unique alluvial fan sage scrub community which is only found in southern California in the San Bernardino and San Gabriel Mountains. The Preserve itself protects various plants and wildlife, some of which are listed as threatened or endangered at the federal and state level. 

Why Sage?

The issue of sage poaching was brought to our attention by Violet Luxton, who introduced us to the work already done and the work planned for the future in regards to protecting this sacred plant. A major goal of this project was to advance the agenda of the people most directly impacted by the fight for Indigenous land justice and decolonization, which is why our project took a focus around this topic.

Cultural Significance 

White Sage (Salvia apiana) has long been used for food, medicine, and as part of spiritual and religious practices by Indigenous groups throughout the regions in which it grows. It is a sacred medicine however it is currently on the brink of extinction due to commodification and poaching. Despite an increase in poaching, there has been weak protections and little enforcement in regards to White Sage. It is still not on the endangered species list despite these threats.

In regards to stealing Sage, Tongva Elder Julia Bogany said  “We wouldn’t go into a church or place of worship and start walking out with their sacred objects, please do not do this to ours. The Sage is sacred to us.”  

If you would like to read more about the current situation regarding White Sage here is an article recently published in News From Native California called “Saging the World” on how the global commodification of this sacred medicine is bringing it to the brink of extinction as well as what local Indigenous communities are doing to fight back. 

Natural Significance

In the alluvial scrub community at the Etiwanda Preserve, white sage acts as a keystone species to the unique ecosystem. Its presence is crucial to maintaining the fragile habitats that protect threatened and endangered species at the Preserve.

Interview With Violet Luxton

Our first interview was with Violet Luxton, who is a student support specialist at the Office of Student Engagement at Claremont Graduate University. She has been actively advocating for more resources and funding relating to Native Initiatives at the 7Cs. She is working towards building a coalition, and has invited people into this work alongside her. We met with Violet twice during this semester. She told us about her work, organizing alongside Tongva elders and community members as well as folks from the Claremont Colleges. Violet introduced us to the campaign to protect White Sage, explaining that poaching of this sacred plant is wreaking the ecosystem. In an effort to protect the sage fields, she has helped to launch a letter writing campaign to petition Assemblyman Ramos to issue stronger protections for the sage fields at the Etiwanda Preserve. She told us that though the project was only slowly building momentum, and that she hoped eventually to be able to provide strong legal protection for white sage under the Endangered Species Act. 

 During our conversations, she encouraged us to think about each of our passions and talents and what skills we were looking to gain. She emphasized that all of these skills and interests are important contributions to this work. Because of this we were all able to work on pieces of this project that catered to our strengths, knowledge bases, and experiences. Violet offered us specific ways to get involved based on our abilities and interests. 

Violet focused on sharing information and raising awareness about white sage. This has become a large part of the work we’ve been doing. We all also hope to continue to work with Violet and her newly formed 7C Native Coalition with future projects. As of right now, we have created an instagram post to educate about what is happening, and a letter template to help people send letters to Assemblyman Ramos. We’ve included links to both of these in our “take action” section. If you are interested in joining Violet’s 7C Native Coalition, send and email to for more information! Hopefully, this coalition will build solidarity with other affinity groups on campus and work to build a 7C database about Native initiatives. 

Robert Redford Conservancy

The Robert Redford Conservancy was founded in 2012 with the intention to promote collaboration in the realm of socio-ecological justice and sustainability. One of the key ways they’re doing this is through the incorporation of Indigenous knowledge into their education programs, and by collaborating with members of the Tongva community in planning outdoor spaces at the Conservancy. Brinda Sarathy is the director, but was unfortunately on sabbatical at the time of this project. Susan Phillips is the current interim director to whom we are incredibly grateful for allowing us to interview her and learn more about the Conservancy in the process. To read more about the Conservancy please refer to their website:

Interview With Susan Phillips

What has been your experience with Native initiatives at the Conservancy and in your personal advocacy work?

  • Susan Phillips became the interim director of the Conservancy in September. On the topic of advocacy work she notes that she has not had a lot of experience with native initiatives before this. Through her past field work with LA housing projects she was able to briefly experience these types of initiatives, but in the interview she explains that, overall, she never had the opportunity to really connect with people. Phillips expresses a lot of gratitude and respect towards being able to “step in” to this position as interim director and emphasizes that Brinda Sarathy is really the one who worked carefully and collaboratively with the Tongva community to make the Conservancy what it is today.

How does the Conservancy collaborate with members of the Tongva community?

  • The Conservancy itself is a representation of this collaboration. Brinda Sarathy really emphasized collaboration with the Tongva community and played a big role in the relationship that exists today. She made sure to involve the Tongva community in planning the Conservancy’s construction, especially when it came to what ceremonial or gathering spaces they wanted to see implemented in its design. Overall a large focus of this collaboration was getting the community back in touch with the land. The Tongva are currently landless and federally unrecognized, so this was a crucial step towards the process of cultural revitalization. In the interview, Phillips emphasizes that, as settler institutions, it’s important to understand our role in complicity as settler colonialism persists. Part of the goal of the Conservancy is to resist this by providing a space for the Tongva community because, when colleges have land, it’s part of their duty to recognize who that land belongs to and give back.
  • The Conservancy has also been working on a memorandum of understanding (MOU) at the request of the Tongva community. So far, this would include a use agreement for land at the Conservancy and a potential partnership with the colleges (or at least with Pitzer). 
  • There is an environmental education program at the Conservancy known as LEEP (Leadership in Environmental Education Program) where elementary school students are taught traditional ecological knowledge, stewardship, and plant relationships. Paul Faulstich and Barbara Drake have notably done a lot of work with this program. The Conservancy is also a site for things such as cultural education workshops for the local Tongva community (though these also remain open to members of the colleges). 
  • The newest collaborative project underworks at the Conservancy is the library project. The goal of this project is to create an information center at the Conservancy for Tongva culture, community, history, language, and ethnobotany. The project as a whole also addresses the greater issue of decolonizing libraries. Under the Dewey Decimal System, Native/Indigenous literature are all categorized under “history”, creating a barrier that prevents Native peoples from being recognized as part of the contemporary world. 
  • There are some notable limitations to the Conservancy. It’s located in the middle of a sensitive biological field station, so no fire or burning is allowed which does place some limitations on how ceremonies are conducted. Additionally, everyone requires permission in order to get into the field station, so it’s not like the community really has ownership over that land. 

Are there plans to allow members of the Tongva community to act as stewards for the Conservancy? Any sort of Land Back initiative?

  • There is currently no Land Back initiative for the Conservancy. Stewardship at the Conservancy is currently a work in progress, and something being written into the MOU specifically is how much caregiving/maintenance to the land they would like to perform themselves. Phillips emphasized that they have full say on this, especially when it comes down to the ceremonial circles. 

How has your positionality impacted your work with Native communities?

  • Phillips notes that her positionality as a white, cis-gendered, middle-class woman has definitely had a large impact on her work. She reflects on being comfortable with positionality and acknowledging privilege, not trying to be something she’s not. She makes sure to remain aware of history in her work and mentions being “comfortable in that discomfort” and not constantly agonizing over her positionality. She states that “it never stops being a thing that’s present” so she “dedicates [herself] to antiracism and letting go of power”. For example, in her position as interim director she is comfortable letting go of power, especially in collaborative efforts such as those taking place at the Conservancy, and maintaining the role of an ally. She states that no matter how practiced you are at navigating this type of work, missteps and mistakes are always made. Phillips ends with a reflection on her position as an anthropologist. She reflects on her urge to interview people and if this urge is wrong given the colonial history of anthropology, though notes that the ethics of this is largely based on the agreement between the interviewer and the interviewee. Finally, Phillips ends with an emphasis on the importance of partnership. With the widespread cultural wipeout of Indigenous cultures, specifically in California, it’s incredibly important that we use privilege to aid in cultural revitalization. 

Further Reading and Texts That Guided This Project

Guiding Texts
10 Things Non-Native Folks Need To Know – a video that discusses appropriation of Native culture, specifically in relation to Indigenous identity and spirituality. 

What is going on with white sage? – article that discusses sage poaching at the Etiwanda Preserve and the ethics behind it

Saging the World – an article about the importance of white sage and the impacts of poaching

Mapping Indigenous LA: Placemaking Through Digital Storytelling – a map that tells the story of the original people of what is now known as the Los Angeles basin.

Witches, Pagans, and Cultural Appropriation  – article about cultural appropriation within pagan spiritual practices

Additional Resources

Text (907) 312-5085 to see who’s land you’re on

Indigenous Artists Tell Us What They Think About Land Acknowledgements 

Decolonization Is Not a Metaphor 

‘Living with fire’ may lead to less destructive wildfires, say Indigenous land stewards 

Calling-in Versus Calling-out: “Throwing Out My Activist Armchair”

Countering Racism & Oppression in Holistic Healing

Decolonizing Methodologies by Linda Tuhiwai Smith

7C Native Initiatives Committee 

The 7C Native Initiatives Committee is a group dedicated to moving forward work relating to Native Initiatives at the 7Cs. It is headed by Violet Luxton, who has long been involved in advocacy around these issues, and serves as a way of continuing to engage members within the 7C community in movement work as it relates to Native struggles. The group is currently in its initial stages and focusing on raising awareness and inspiring action to address the poaching of White Sage.

 This work has come directly from the interests of Violet Luxton and the late Tongva elder Barbara Drake. Through this work, we hope to educate anyone who is interested in learning about decolonization and Indigenous struggles — specifically as they relate to the Tongva community in regards to the Etiwanda sage fields, the Robert Redford Conservancy, and the 7C’s. 

If you are interested in learning more about how to get involved please email

Take Action!

Share this infographic:

In order to raise awareness about the issues surrounding White Sage poaching and culturally appropriative uses of White Sage we have created the following infographic. Along with spreading awareness, it also serves to promote the letter writing campaign to protect White Sage that is described further below. 

Write a letter to help protect White Sage:

In response to a call action given by Tongva Elder Barbara Drake before her passing, the 7C Native Initiative Committee has launched a letter writing campaign in solidarity with the work of protecting the Etiwanda Sage Fields. 

Use the following letter template to send a letter to State Assemblyman James Ramos to help protect White Sage and stand in solidarity with the late Tongva Elder Barbara Drake and the members of the Tongva, Serrano, Cahuilla, Luiseño, and other Nations that depend on the Sage for their spiritual, medicinal and ceremonial wellbeing. You can find the letter template here.

We are calling on Assemblyman Ramos to take immediate action to help preserve the Etiwanda sage habitat through the following:

  1. Increasing security enforcement at the Etiwanda Sage Fields
  2. Enacting environmental monitoring at the Etiwanda Sage Fields
  3. Passing necessary legislation to protect this species by adding salvia apiana to the list of state and federal endangered species

The more letters received, the more likely Assemblyman Ramos is to take action to enact the necessary protection for the North Etiwanda Preserve. Once you submit your letter, share it with others so they can participate too.

We’d like to acknowledge and thank Violet Luxton, Barbara Drake, Susan Phillips, Tricia Morgan, Brinda Sarathy, and the Tongva community as a whole whose individual and collective efforts are what have allowed this resource to become a reality.

State Violence and Anti-Blackness

We are a group of students who are concerned with both visible and underlying practices of anti-Blackness that span across the institutions of the United States. To us, this topic is in urgent need of addressing by all Americans. Black people are incarcerated, murdered, disenfranchised, and otherwise marginalized on a constant basis in this nation, and anti-Blackness is a foundational principle to its political philosophy. Therefore, we all bear the responsibility of trying to deconstruct these systems of oppression and disrupt the anti-Blackness inherent in our own thinking. In this project, we sought out to educate ourselves about specific oppressive institutions in our society, and to bring greater attention to organizations that are doing powerful work in protecting Black lives and their communities. The implicit meaning of our work is very strongly related to what it means to be an accomplice specifically for Black folks who are victims of systemic violence, and we are signing a contract of accomplicity. By this, we mean strengthening and making concrete our willingness to make great sacrifice in the name of anti-racist feminism and amplifying marginalized voices to the best of our ability. Our hope for what we are sharing in our website is that others can learn about anti-Blackness in specific societal institutions, especially young people. The more educated young people are about anti-Blackness, the more likely we are to be able to dismantle it in the future. Additionally, we hope that others with the financial means will take the opportunity to donate to these wonderful organizations. Visit our website at

By Esther O’Leary, Andrea Siame, Emily Bunnell, Hannah Stark, and Willa Grifka

Fascism in the US Today

Our Anti-Racist Feminist Action Team (AFAT) created an informative guide on fascism in the US today with three sections: Fascism 101, Patriarchy and Fascism, and Class and Fascism. The goal of this guide is to create an accessible, easy to read, informative site on Fascism in the US today, because education is the first and most important step in being actively anti-fascist.


What is right-wing and left-wing? Where does fascism, capitalism, and American politics lie in that spectrum? 

Left-wing and right-wing are terms used to describe the political spectrum. Generally, the left believes that social and economic inequalities are solvable or able to be reduced. The right seeks to maintain social hierarchy and oppose the liberating policies of the left. The term “conservative” refers to the right’s belief in maintaining and conserving existing social order. On the extreme left, there is socialism and communism. Socialism is a system of government where the state owns and operates means of production and common property (for example, public schools fall into the socialist category). Communism is more left-wing than socialism, and is a system where all property is community owned with the end goal that all people have social and economic equality. Capitalism is an economic system where production is privately owned. While capitalism is an economic system rather than a political one, the economy and government of a society are so interlinked, that Capitalism is relevant on the political spectrum. Capitalism lies on the right because it inherently promotes social and economic inequality. Fascism is a form of far-right government because it is an oppressive, almost dictatorial, approach to government that seeks to not only maintain social order, but to revert back to a previous, glorified social order via nationalism and racism. Fascism works to support and maintain Capitalism in society. 

What is fascism? 

More extreme than conservative political ideology, which aims to maintain social order, or the far right, which wants to restore social relationships that are perceived to be lost, fascism is a form of counter-revolution whose goal is to return society to a mythical state of previous “purity” and enforce oppressive social hierarchies. A fascist government has a charismatic, authoritarian leader who relies on the support of a populist movement. Historically, the most notable instances of fascism were the Nazis in Germany, Mussoilini in Italy, and the Franco regime in Spain.

Fascism refers specifically to a system of power, but there is a certain ideology that is characteristic of a facist state. Cultural-theorist Umberto Eco, who lived in Italy under the regime of facist leader Benito Mussolini, created a list of fourteen general characteristics of a facist state in his essay Ur-Fascism, urging us to recognize and stop new manifestations of it. Some of those characteristics include: 

  • Cult of tradition: Traditionalism is important to a facist regime since it is an attractive form of ideology that the regime can promote. Many facist regimes focus their appeals to the public on a return to ‘the good old days’. In facist regimes conformity is expected, specifically conformity to these traditional ideals. It fits into other characteristics of a facist state since traditionalism implies a rejection of modernism, and a rejection of those who do not fit into the traditional views.
  • Rejection of modernism: This rejection of modernism does not refer to the rejection of technological advancements, but instead refers to the rejection of modern or progressive ideas and ways of thinking. The example that Eco uses in his essay is the Nazi view of The Enlightenment and the Age of Reason as “the beginning of modern depravity”.
  • Appeal to a frustrated class: Though Eco references a frustrated middle class specifically, more broadly he states “a class suffering from an economic crisis or feelings of political humiliation, and frightened by the pressure of lower social groups.” This definition does not just apply to the middle class, but rather to any class that feels unheard or unsupported by their government. 
  • Exploitation of the fear of difference: As Eco puts it, “The first appeal of a facist or prematurely facist movement is an appeal against the intruders. Thus Ur-Fascism is racist by definition.” It is easy to unify followers under a common enemy. For Nazi Germany, the Jews were a convenient target to label as the enemy of a prosperous Aryan Germany.
  • Nationalism: Facist states rely on a strong sense of nationalism to remain in power and influence those under its regime. Brainwashing those you have control over to believe that they live in the greatest country in the world is a way to ensure that support for the regime continues.
  • Disagreement as treason: Any disagreement to the ideology of the facist state is a threat and therefore must be eliminated. Disagreement is seen as a sign of modernism as well as a sign of diversity, both of which directly challenge the characteristics of a facist state. In general, this refers to a contempt for an open-dialogue and rejection of ideas that do not promote the regime.

Though these characteristics are not exhaustive of what a facist state looks like and what ideologies fascism holds, they are important characteristics that allow one to easily recognize actions that are reminiscent of fascism. 

Where does fascism derive its power? 

Fascism derives its political power from two main outlets; A populist movement’s support and the co-optation of the truth. 

A populist movement is a movement led by a charismatic leader who can connect with and gain the support of “the people” in contrast to “the elites”. For example, this is seen in Trump’s large working class support base. A fascist regime operates by taking advantage of this populist support and “enlists the citizens themselves to cooperate in their own oppression”, meaning, the group that supports the fascist regime is the same group that will be harmed by it’s extreme capitalistic and hierarchical agenda (Fogarty, 6). Another author writes, “If fascsim is going to succeed in rooting out political and social democracy, it needs the support of millions of people, and yet the transformation which fascism offers its supporters is no more than cultural or spiritual; it fights any measures to redistribute wealth downwards. It has to mobilise, in other words, the very people whose social advancement it exists to oppose.” (Renton, 16)

Fascism also heavily relies on the distortion of the truth to remain in power. It is important to note that the attack on the concept of truth is special to fascism– while almost all political systems incorporate miss information and lies, none distorts the truth at the level of Fascism. In A Brief History of Fascist Lies the author writes, “In fascism, mythical truth replaced factual truth” referring to the alternate reality of national greatness and cultural purity that Fascism aims for (Finchelstein, 9). Additionally, a fascist government consistently rejects reality in favor of the regime’s own truth, because they view their leadership as the epitome of power, knowledge, and ability to determine the truth. When truth is questioned to this extent, it loses its power. 

What is ANTIFA and what are their goals?

Antifa is a non-violent, decentralized political movement against fascism in the United States. The name “Antifa” is an abbreviation for “Anti-Fascism”. Right-wing media has blamed Antifa in recent months for looting and rioting in regards to the Black Lives Matter movement, but in reality, Antifa is closer to an ideology than a “terrorist organization” as it has been referred to. Antifa is made up of local activists throughout the country and abroad who “campaign against actions they view as authoritarian, homophobic, racist or xenophobic” (New York Times). The Southern Poverty Law Center defines Antifa as “a broad, community-based movement composed of individuals organizing against racial and economic injustice”. 

How can I be actively Anti-Fascist?

One of the best ways to be actively anti-facist is to educate yourself. Educating yourself about things that are affecting you and others around you, especially marginalized peoples, is important so that these issues are not able to pass quietly into effect. Educating others is important as well to promote widespread understanding of actions and policies that may be racist, xenophobic, or homophobic. Another way to be actively anti-racist is to attend protests or support grassroots movements that are actively working to promote change in their communities. 

Further research:

Work Cited: 

Eco, Umberto. “Ur-Fascism.” The New York Review of Books, 29 Aug. 2020,

Bogel-burroughs, Nicholas, and Sandra E. Garcia. “What Is Antifa, the Movement Trump Wants to Declare a Terror Group?” The New York Times, The New York Times, 28 Sept. 2020,

Fogarty, Brian E. Fascism Why Not Here? 1st ed., 1st ed., Potomac Books, 2009. 

Renton, David. The New Authoritarians : Convergence on the Right. Haymarket Books, 2019. 

Finchelstein, Federico. A Brief History of Fascist Lies. 1st version, 1st ed., University of California Press, 2020.

“Designating Antifa as Domestic Terrorist Organization Is Dangerous, Threatens Civil Liberties.” Southern Poverty Law Center, 2 June 2020,


What is patriarchy, hyper masculinity, and feminism, in the context of fascism?

Patriarchy is a system of society, government, economics, religion, etc. that institutionalizes concepts of gender such that cisgender men hold primary power and are dominant to those of other genders. 

Feminism is widely interpreted, but at large, feminism aims to empower subordinate genders prescribed through patriarchy to achieve equality for those of all gender identities. Feminism is also inherently intersectional and is influenced by matters of racism, ableism, economic oppression, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, etc. Gender equality cannot be achieved as long as communities within those of marginal gender identities continue to be oppressed on other levels. 

Patriarchy plays an important role in fascism. Historically, gender-based oppression has been used to dominate communities and empower cisgender men who adopt strong masculine roles. At the core of fascism are aims of re-establishing traditionalist systems, such as patriarchy, in the family, government, and society. Eugene Weber is an eminent historian who frequently writes about the role of patriarchy in fascism, claiming that fascism is the response to the rising power of women

For more information about these terms or the role of patriarchy in fascism, you can read the next few questions or visit the following links:

·  Intersectional Feminism defined by the United Nations:

·  Article on Patriarchy by Linda Napikoski:

·  Blog Post about Fascism and Patriarchy by Theo Horish:

What role does patriarchy play in fascism historically?

Historically, fascist regimes have aimed to reinstate patriarchal ideology in all facets of life: the government, society, and the structure of family, to name a few. Often, fascist regimes are built upon the destruction of progressive attitudes. Prior to Hitler’s rise to power in Germany, Berlin witnessed the materialization of experimental art, gay acceptance, and liberation for women and children. The Nazi party had initially founded themselves on traditionalist values, reforming the radical attitudes that supported such progress and reestablishing patriarchy. Similar trends have been identified in the development of many fascist regimes across history. During the French revolution, the concept of “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity” hallmarked the fascist party, as subscribers called for the return to stable male dominance. Though still in place today, fraternity ideals often refer to the distribution of power across exclusively male networks and were formed in response to the infiltration of male-dominated spaces by women. 

Fascism has a critical relationship with feminism and the rise to power of women and gender-oppressed peoples. Exploring this reactionary element of fascism is very much relevant to the rise of fascism in the US.

If you are interested in learning more about the history of fascism as it relates to feminism and patriarchy, you can visit the following sources:

·  Blog Posts and articles about Fascism and Patriarchy by Theo Horish:


·  Fascism and Patriarchy by Anuradha Gandhy:

·  “Old Nazis, the New Right, and the Republican Party: Domestic fascist networks and their effect on U.S. cold war politics” by Eugene Weber (Goodreads link provided):

Who are the Proud Boys and other ‘brotherhoods’ in the United States, and what are they doing?

When thinking about fascism today in the US, you’ll often come across groups such as the Proud Boys, the KKK, and other white supremacist organizations. These groups have many oppressive ideals, but they often unite as ‘brotherhoods’ to perpetuate their discriminatory beliefs and practices. And even more broadly, you’ll often find branches of the government and military who refer to themselves as ‘brotherhoods’ or ‘brothers in arms.’ The concept of brotherhood has been long established in the United States, and such groups exist through many domains with various beliefs and gravities. For example, the Greek fraternity is a seemingly trivial collegiate tradition, yet its foundation is the same as that of the Proud Boys or the KKK. At their core, each of these groups aims to harbor a sense of male dominance and reinstate patriarchal ideals as a reaction to the infiltration of marginalized genders or communities in their previously male-dominated spaces.

As discussed in the previous question, fascist regimes have a historical tendency to rise to power in response to the demand for equality by those of marginalized genders and with progressive ideologies. Moreover, the relationship between these groups and Trumpism proves their interests lie in reclaiming power and reinstating the patriarchal ideals on which their groups were founded.

To learn more about Trumpism and the role of these groups in modern US fascism, refer to the Q&A guide or visit the following links:

·  “Old Nazis, the New Right, and the Republican Party: Domestic fascist networks and their effect on U.S. cold war politics” by Eugene Weber (Goodreads link provided):

·  Article on the alt-right and US fascism:

·  Fascism in America:

·  Swiping Right: The Allure of Hyper Masculinity and Cryptofascism for Men Who Join the Proud Boys (Kutner, 2020)


How has the GOP historically appealed to the working class?

(sourced from

In the 1970s, concentrated efforts to appeal to the blue-collar/working class — through media and political messaging — became commonplace in an attempt to mobilize a new voting bloc. Such messaging was often thinly-cloaked racialized language; Timothy J. Lombardo writes that the bloc felt “under siege” as the civil rights movement grew in reach and influence, and that its members felt threatened by the prospect of desegregation, as existing racial boundaries by and large benefited them and blue-collar livelihood. This often manifested (and still manifests) in language that upheld the value of “hard work” and “family” — terms that call upon the ideals of the nuclear family and American Dream-constructed meritocracy  — in an effort to eschew proclaiming racist beliefs. We still see these euphemisms at work today, in the form of stereotypes of deadbeat Black fathers or descriptions of majority-minority neighborhoods as “ghetto.” Indeed, one large conflict during the 70s revolved around the construction of public housing, which many blue-collar whites wished to prevent believing that it would invite low-income populations and racial minorities.

In the late 1970s and 80s, President Ronald Reagan employed populist techniques that leveraged this existing vocabulary and blue-collar resentment. Upon his 1981 election, he harnessed their growing unrest by promising that he sided with them and the ideals of “family, work, and neighborhood.” Using this language, Reagan converted typically-Democratic-aligned voters into “Reagan Democrats.” Lombardo notes that his appeal was not the result of carefully-explained policy, but rather one based on pathos and ‘empathy’ for the blue-collar voting bloc’s discontent — one stemming from their belief that “welfare queens” had robbed them of their livelihoods and their culture.

How does this manifest today/in the Trump era?

(sourced from,

Donald Trump employs similar populist techniques and leverages the “racially rooted but class-forward” (Lombardo/The Washington Post) sensibilities and priorities of the blue-collar population. Even now, the messaging is far more one based on emotion than on logic. Reports show that, in fact, Trump-era policies often actively work against economic blue-collar interests. Trump rhetoric has managed to recapture and foreground the racial divides and racist values that are foundational to working-class identity. Where the bloc felt ignored and downtrodden (e.g. in the 70s and in the face of transformative or progressive policy), recent years have seen the GOP strengthening blue-collar loyalty by using these tactics. What’s more is that Trump has actually managed to secure this support in non-white populations, simultaneously being “class-forward” and further harnessing American white populism for the sake of a) further radicalizing white supporters and b) dodging accusations of racism by way of his encouragement of the Hispanic/Black working class. 

Harvard students Bo Yun Park and Elena Ayala-Hurtado also analyzed Trump’s campaign trail speeches in an effort to deconstruct his appeal to the white working class. In particular, they outline five tactics that he used to boost class morale:

  1. Willingness to vocalize sympathy with a class that feels shunned by globalization and diversification
  2. Echoing their resentment for “more privileged” and respected populations, such as establishment politicians and the economically-advantaged
  3. Continuing moral judgment of refugees/immigrants and Muslims
  4. Asserting that racial minorities (if legal residents), especially Black and Hispanic populations, are included in the blue-collar population that he supports
  5. Positioning working class men as “protectors” of marginalized populations

What role do upper-class Americans play in the political climate?

Political opinion polls can be used to predict what issues and potential policy an elected official will address based on voter interest.  However, these polls only survey middle and working class citizens.  In doing this, the views of wealthy individuals who provide large campaign donations are hidden.  While this is not surprising, seeing as billionaires are very hard to contact and some stay out of the public sphere completely, the absence of vocalized political views from upper-class individuals gives the impression that they are not involved in politics.  

In a Jacobin interview from 2019, Professor Matthew Lacombe argues that U.S. government policy caters more towards wealthy Americans and discusses a study of the political activity of the wealthiest 100 Americans over the course of a decade.  The group consisted of predominantly older, white men.  The findings of the research concluded that they are silent around politics in public, but they are extremely politically active.  Lacombe also saw that a majority of the billionaires aligned with far right-wing values, specifically on economic issues.  Although some of the members lean more liberal on social issues, they likely do not have public interest at heart.  Billionaires with many employees view immigration as an economic issue and often advocate for immigration rights in order to obtain more workers that will work for less compensation.  

 Complete transparency from both government officials and upper-class individuals needs to be called for.  Without some level of accountability, billionaires will continue to hold an advantage over working and middle class citizens and the government will appear untrustworthy for engaging in secretive and discriminatory communications.

What are upper-class conservatives so afraid of?

Lacombe briefly introduces the concept of ‘stealth politics,’ a strategy in which billionaires manipulate public policy in a direction favorable to them in opposition to the beliefs of average Americans.  Through large financial contributions and involvement in organizations, these wealthy individuals are able to advance an agenda that may not be popular among those affected without having to sit through public discussion.  Engaging in stealth politics is more common for a person whose wealth came from inheritance or a consumer-facing industry, in order to protect the family name from scrutiny.  For example, the Koch brothers, inheritors of the Koch Industries company and adamant criticizers of the Affordable Care Act, are conservatives, though that was not always clear as they would stay out of the spotlight and make few controversial public comments.  After gaining electoral success following both Presidential and Congressional elections, many policy changes involving reductions of pensions and Medicaid and Obamacare in several states ensued.  

Super Rich Irony, an article from the New Yorker writes about the criticism Wall Street financiers had for President Obama, even going as far as to compare his administration to “Hitler’s Third Reich” and describing their feelings of being victimized by the president.   Apart from calling for higher taxes on the upper-class and questioning the fairness of Wall Street tax rates, Obama had not done much to negatively impact them and had even given them a relief package and shielded them from criminal prosecution, but they still feel that they have been vilified.  In building hostility towards Obama, billionaires are able to transfer some of their guilt without acknowledging their own behavior.  

Immigrant Human Rights

Our website is located at This website contains research about how COVID-19 has been handled in ICE detention centers and resources to help with the human rights violations that have taken place. It also contains other important information regarding citizenship, immigration enforcement, systemic racism, and human rights. We also talk about solidarity in coalition building, and its relation to our project. Please check out this site to learn more about issues present in immigration enforcement in the United States, and about what you can do to make a difference.

Agriculture and Climate Justice

Celia, Flo, Grace, Ella, and Desa

We are students from Scripps College who raise awareness for the working conditions of California farmworkers in agriculture.

To access our presentation and the links in our presentation, please access this link

Migrant and Immigrant Human Rights: Reproductive Justice Toolkit

Core 3: Anti-racist Feminist Coalition Teams for Migrant and Immigrant Human Rights

Kaitlyn Chin, Kesi Jackson, Tess Gibbs

Purpose Statement: This toolkit focuses on the reproductive and birth rights of migrants and immigrants in detainment, including in detention centers, prisons, and ICE custody. In learning about the recent Project South whistleblower case of non-consenting hysterectomies and reproductive surgeries performed on ICE detainees, we hoped to further our own understandings of reproductive violence and oppression. We have compiled resources on the history of the eugenics movement in the United States, organizations and scholars supporting reproductive justice and contemporary legislation in an attempt to be in dialogue about the role of reproductive coercion within structural racism and white supremacy. This work is entrenched in the lives, bodies and families of women of color, people with disabilities and undocumented communities. We hope to provide a platform to build coalitional alliances to stand in solidarity with and educate those within and outside of Scripps College.

Questions that guided our research:


  • How is agency politicized? How has institutional power legitimized oppression?
  • What are the systems and policies that permit medical discrimination, experimentation and violence?
  • How can we address state violence as it has been inherited generationally?


  • How does the pathologization of a person’s bodily autonomy contribute to reproductive violence and oppression?
  • How do our notions of free and willing consent change when an incarcerated person’s entire days are spent in a coercive, threatening place?
  • How do we collectively enforce ideologies around surrendering bodily autonomy? What enables these laws and beliefs to be perpetuated culturally?


  • What is the power of legislative reform in protecting and ensuring the rights of incarcerated women, and incarcerated people’s reproductive rights? Are there limits to legislative reform? 
  • How has the legitimization of state violence through the justice system created a pathology for violence culturally?
  • What is the role of accountability and atonement within reparations?
  • How do we envision an abolitionist future?

Relevant Vocabulary/Terms (Definitions from linked sources):

  • Reproductive Justice: “the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities” (SisterSong: Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective)
  • Reproductive Coercion: “behavior that interferes with the autonomous decision-making of a [person], with regards to reproductive health. It may take the form of birth control sabotage, pregnancy coercion, or controlling the outcome of a pregnancy.” Coercion is not limited to coming from partners, but also from institutions that wield power over a person’s autonomy, such as carceral institutions. (Reproductive Coercion: A Systematic Review)
  • Eugenics: “the practice or advocacy of controlled selective breeding of human populations (as by sterilization) to improve the population’s genetic composition” (Merriam-Webster); “Developed largely by Sir Francis Galton as a method of improving the human race, eugenics was increasingly discredited as unscientific and racially biased during the 20th century, especially after the adoption of its doctrines by the Nazis in order to justify their treatment of Jews, disabled people, and other minority groups” (Oxford Languages
  • Sterilization: “a process or act that renders an individual incapable of sexual reproduction; forced sterilization occurs when a person is sterilized after expressly refusing the procedure, without their knowledge or is not given an opportunity to provide consent” (Human Rights Watch)
  • Prison industrial complex (PIC): “the overlapping interests of government and industry that use surveillance, policing, and imprisonment as solutions to economic, social and political problems” (Critical Resistance)
  • Reparations: “the making of amends for a wrong one has done, by paying money to or otherwise helping those who have been wronged” (Oxford Languages); “a system of redress for egregious injustices” (Brookings Institution)

History of Eugenics in the U.S.

Interview with Carly Myers, Staff Attorney with Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF):

What is the role of eugenics in the contemporary sterilizations? (Especially after the eugenics laws were repealed in 1979?)

  • Eugenics is the belief that some people are more fit to reproduce and be citizens than others. Eugenics ideology has been used in California and across the world to perpetuate oppressive beliefs and practices regarding people of color, Indigenous people, people with disabilities, poor people, and LGTBQI+ people, among others. While California’s eugenics laws were repealed in 1979, the ideology persists and manifests in other forms. Prior to 1979, forced sterilizations were performed under the color of law in state institutions; afterwards, coerced sterilizations continued in prisons and, most recently, immigrant detention centers. While these contemporary sterilizations were not performed pursuant to a specific state law, they were performed without proper consents and overwhelmingly on people with historically marginalized characteristics. Eugenics ideology is still alive and well; it just operates more in the shadows.

Do you feel that eugenics policy and ideologies of the past influence legislative decisions in relation to contemporary sterilizations?

  • The forced sterilization of any individual is a crime, it is unconstitutional, and it violates principles of international human rights. We are thankful that the State of California recognized the wrongfulness of its eugenics sterilizations by issuing a formal apology in 2003. However, an apology is not enough. As demonstrated by the involuntary sterilization of hundreds of incarcerated women as recently as 2010, without broader public awareness and a material acknowledgment of its wrongdoings, eugenics ideologies will continue to pollute our government’s policies and practices. This is why the Reparations for Survivors of Forced Sterilization Bill is critical; and why the State’s failure to pass the bill the past three years is telling.

Interview with Cynthia Chandler, Director of Bay Area Legal Incubator:

What is the power of legislative reform in protecting and ensuring the rights of incarcerated women, and incarcerated people’s reproductive rights?

  • In California, we must work towards creating advocacy between people inside and outside of prisons. There should be mandatory reporting for the number of sterilizations performed, training for incarcerated people to recognize sterilization abuse (how to spot it, rights to prevent it and education around the new law), and data freely available to outside allies to mobilize “policing” of the actions of the state. Policy is only effective if implemented in a way that builds momentum and pressure to create change.
  • There is a political resurrection of eugenics (forming a more perfect race of people). In other words, there is a movement growing to create a population that does not require state aid and to create a wealthier population.
    • This is underlined by a white supremacist motivation: straight, white, able-bodied, dominant class supremacy. We are also seeing a rise of neo-facism in California and we are seeing it most dramatically in women’s prisons and ICE detention centers. That rise is less visible in men’s detention centers. 
    • There is not one doctor or facility to blame for all sterilization abuses; they are spread across the state of California and the United States, which only illustrates the systemic nature of the sterilizations.

Background Information about the History of Eugenics: in relation to California’s forced sterilizations and eugenics ideologies– This article connects the United States’s historical and contemporary practice of forced sterilizations, rooted in eugenics and targeting women of color. It asserts that eugenicist practices show up in many places in our legal and judicial systems. For example, in 2017, a Tennessee judge allowed imprisoned people reduced sentences if they “volunteered” to begin contraceptives or be sterilized. Although we mostly see the focus on women who are targeted by coerced sterilization, the article also mentions the men targeted in the early 20th century for being ““confirmed criminals,” “idiots,” “imbeciles” and “rapists.”” The Center for Investigative Reporting reported that at some prisons where sterilizations were performed, nurses targeted patients based on their perceived recidivism – This blog post includes many references and links to different instances in which marginalized groups have been targeted by “anti-scientific discrimination,” or eugenics medicine. It includes the 1914 Model Eugenical Sterilization Law, used to codify sterilization of women in the U.S. and Puerto Rico; the U.S. Public Health Service’s 1940s practice of infecting Guatemalan immigrants with STDs to be used a guinea pigs for experimental treatments; how Haitian immigrants currently make up 44% of ICE detention camps and receive much higher bails; the Family Planning Services and Population Research Act of 1970, with which “close to 25 percent of Native American women of childbearing age were sterilized”; and the U.S. Public Health Service’s Tuskeegee experiments from 1932-72, in which Black men were unknowingly used to examine the effects of untreated syphilis. – This article connects the United States’s historical and contemporary practice of forced sterilizations, rooted in eugenics and targeting women of color. It asserts that eugenicist practices show up in many places in our legal and judicial systems. For example, in 2017, a Tennessee judge allowed imprisoned people reduced sentences if they “volunteered” to begin contraceptives or be sterilized. Although we mostly see the focus on women who are targeted by coerced sterilization, the article also mentions the men targeted in the early 20th century for being ““confirmed criminals,” “idiots,” “imbeciles” and “rapists.”” The Center for Investigative Reporting reported that at some prisons where sterilizations were performed, nurses targeted patients based on their perceived recidivism – (on compensation under state eugenics laws) This article from the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (who we have contacted) details the requirements and procedures for obtaining compensation as a sterilized victim. Through The Sterilization Compensation Bill, introduced by Senator Nancy Skinner, California would be the third state in the nation to provide compensation for survivors under state eugenics laws. California officials apologize for this historical wrong of eugenic sterilization programs in 2003 as the state accounts for a third of all sterilizations in the nation in the 20th century.

Current Legislation & Ways to Get Involved

  • Bill to Establish the Forced or Involuntary Sterilization Compensation Program
  • DREDF Testimony and supporting documentation for the bill 
  • Petition for Sterilization Survivor Reparations (recently updated to target the Governor)
  • 2013 State Audit
  • Volunteer with, donate available funds to, and highlight the work of the following organizations

Organizations working for Reproductive Justice

National Organizations:

  • Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund:“a leading national civil rights law and policy center directed by individuals with disabilities and parents who have children with disabilities” that seeks “To advance the civil and human rights of people with disabilities through legal advocacy, training, education, and public policy and legislative development.”
  • National Coalition for Immigrant Women’s Rights: “comprised of grassroots and advocacy organizations nationwide. We defend and promote equality for all immigrant women and their families living and working in the United States. We integrate human rights principles into our work and believe that immigrant rights are women’s rights. NCIWR advocates at the national, state and local levels for comprehensive immigration reform, fair and non-discriminatory implementation of our immigration and enforcement policies, and reproductive and economic justice for immigrant women.”
  • National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice: Grassroots movement to build “Latina/x power to fight for the fundamental human right to reproductive health, dignity, and justice. We center Latina/x voices, mobilize our communities, transform the cultural narrative, and drive policy change.”
  • Project South: “a Southern-based leadership development organization that creates spaces for movement building. We work with communities pushed forward by the struggle– to strengthen leadership and to provide popular political and economic education for personal and social transformation.”
  • SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective: “a Southern-based, national membership organization; our purpose is to build an effective network of individuals and organizations to improve institutional policies and systems that impact the reproductive lives of marginalized communities.”
  •  INCITE! organizes from the framework that locates women of color as living in the dangerous intersections of sexism and racism, as well as other oppressions. INCITE! is a network of radical feminists of color organizing to end state violence and violence in our homes and communities.

State Level Organizations: 

  • California Coaliton for Women Prisoners: “a grassroots social justice organization, with members inside and outside prison, that challenges the institutional violence imposed on women, transgender people, and communities of color by the prison industrial complex (PIC). We see the struggle for racial and gender justice as central to dismantling the PIC and we prioritize the leadership of the people, families, and communities most impacted in building this movement.”
  • California Latinas for Reproductive Justice: “a statewide organization committed to honoring the experiences of Latinas/xs to uphold our dignity, our bodies, sexuality, and families. We build Latinas’/xs’ power and cultivate leadership through community education, policy advocacy, and community-informed research to achieve reproductive justice.”
  • Minnesota Doula Project: Focuses on “provid[ing] pregnancy and parent support for incarcerated parents” and “work[s] with those serving sentences at Minnesota’s only women’s state prison and those held in county correctional facilities throughout Minnesota.”

Local Organizations:

Film: Belly of the Beast (2020): “When an unlikely duo discovers a pattern of illegal sterilizations in women’s prisons, they wage a near impossible battle against the Department of Corrections. Filmed over seven years with extraordinary access and intimate accounts from currently and formerly incarcerated people, BELLY OF THE BEAST exposes modern-day eugenics and reproductive injustice in California prisons.”The Guardian article on Belly of the Beast and California’s Dark History of Forced Sterilizations

The United States is at War:

The breakdown of the War on Drugs Disproportionate Effect on Women of Color


AFCT Coalition: Anti-Blackness, State Violence, and Black Lives Matter

Our Purpose:

Through our work and research, we have created a project that brings more awareness about the relationships between mass incarceration, anti-blackness, the long term impact of intergenerational trauma, and the Drug War in the US. Our solidarity work is conveyed in our research by supporting the work, advocacy, and knowledge of organizers, academics, and folks impacted by and invested in these issues. Our responsibility in this project is conveyed through educating people who are not directly impacted by this issue (and therefore have the privilege of remaining ignorant) and/or helping to give clarity to people about the various connections between these issues which are so often erased by the state and white supremacy. As a collective, we must learn about these issues because it is how we can work on solutions to them. It’s important to learn from people who have been studying and analyzing Anti-Blackness in order to understand what has and hasn’t worked, and to respect the labor and hardships which have obviously come before us in working to address these issues.

Our Research Questions:

  1. What organizations or nonprofits are doing rehabilitative-focused work for directly-impacted black people who have been incarcerated for drug use?
  2. What are alternative solutions to prison? Where is the beginning for prison abolition?
  3. In what ways were drugs pushed into Black communities when the War on Drugs began? Have these trends continued to the modern day?
  4. Who/what bodies of structure were involved in perpetuating the War on Drugs? Who (modern day) are now continuing to perpetuate the effects of the War on Drugs?
  5. How has the history of the war on drugs and over-criminalization affected the generational psychologically from parents to children in Black communities?

Islamophobia and South Asians in America

We are an anti-Islamophobic, feminist coalition focusing on South Asian Muslim women experiences in post-9/11 North America. 


Coalition: Challenging Religious Intolerance & Chauvinism

Our Goals

  • Educate the academic community about microaggressions, institutionalized Islamophobia, and discrimination faced by South Asian Muslims in America
  • Spread awareness of female South Asian-American Muslim experiences with Islamophobia, post-colonial oppression, and gender-based discrimination
  • Collect and compile resources from South Asian Muslim women in academia

Main Takeaways

  1. Islamophobia affects the South Asian American community as a whole, not just those who are Muslim.
  2. South Asian non-Muslims, not just Westerners, hold and perpetuate Islamophobic attitudes in South Asian and Western countries. 
  3. It is important to examine Islamophobia with a multifaceted analysis incorporating racism and imperialism. For example, due to colonialist and imperialist perceptions, South Asian women are perceived as oppressed and in need of saving from South Asian men.
  4. Rigid categorizations, such as within the academy, leads to a level of erasure of Muslim voices; Muslim scholars and international faculty are cast as external to the US.
  5. The most accurate way to learn about South Asian Muslim women experiences is through personal testimonies.

Women in Coalition [sample]


Coalition: Research, Action and Social Change

The Center for Women In Coalition is the research, policy and activist wing of the Department of Women’s Studies at the University of California-Riverside. It was founded in October 1995 by women faculty from across the disciplines in the College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences. CWIC is committed to scholarly, policy and activist engagements with women, gender and sexuality issues as these are constituted through classed, ethno-racial, national, geopolitical, religious, and linguistic differences. In so doing, CWIC follows the creative and powerful paths of intervention forged by native, immigrant, U.S., and postcolonial women of color, as well as women based in the global South. CWIC seeks to further critical dialogues across various multiracial, anti-racist, national and transnational feminist projects of social justice.

CWIC is committed to working across geographical and political, as well as academic, borderlines, in the interest of intellectual and political collaboration and innovation. Many of its projects have focused on the disjunction between academic and activist feminisms in the United States and on the internationalization of feminist theorizing and practice.

Feminist coalition work, and research, is polversal and critical. CWIC seeks work across many borderlines of power especially within knowledge-production itself. It is committed to working in alliance with community leaders, community-based organizations, activists, advocates and policy makers. Please contact us at if you are interested in joint projects of research and action.

CWIC is currently housed in an office in Interdisciplinary Studies Building (Office 2026). It is administered by a governing board. The basic operating budget is provided by the Office of the Dean of the College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences.

CWIC extends its deepest gratitude to Anirban Sengupta, Abhishek Das and Samiran Ghosh of KolWeb whose patient and meticulous attention and care has made this website possible.