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  • Writer's pictureLisa DiRado

How do we disarm ‘defund the police’ Dog Whistle? Part IV: Frame the Future with Race-Class

There is a better way. Democrats can dismantle Dog Whistles to build social solidarity and create a multi-racial society that works for all Americans with a Race-Class approach. In 2017, Anat Shenker-Osorio, Ian Haney Lopez, and Heather McGhee created The Race-Class Narrative Project to empirically test a narrative that merged both race and class into a message that engages voters and neutralizes the Dog Whistles. Race-Class lets us fight back against the strategic racism of the right and build a cross-racial majority.

Anti-racism Americans can use a Race-Class approach to stand with people who have a legitimate right to decide local funding. We can call out fear-mongering candidates when they show up with a new version of the ‘Law and Order’ Dog Whistle. Most importantly, we can nurture the unity we had during the Black Lives Matter demonstrations.

Here is what a Race-Class response to ‘Defund the Police’ Dog Whistle looks like:

Black, brown, and white Americans deserve to live in safe neighborhoods, with police to protect us, social services to lift us up, and jobs that provide living wages. We stand with citizens who question the allocations of resources in their own communities. That is democracy at its best.

But some politicians turn efforts to correct funding – the so-called ‘defund the police’ – into a Dog Whistle to stoke fear among white voters, divide us and win elections.

This division won’t work this time because we remember the unity of the Black Lives Matter demonstrations to end police violence against black men and women. We are united, and we are building the communities we deserve. We call on all Americans to join us.

Americans can’t ignore cleverly disguised Dog Whistle codes used strategically to divide us and take power away from people. It’s not enough to call out racism and bigotry. Reject the Dog Whistles. Call out their strategy of using race to divide us. While radicals divide and conquer, communities must unite and build. Using the tested strategy of Race-Class we can create a movement that combines racial solidarity and economic populism. Now is the time to come together and create a multi-racial majority, and Race-Class can get us there.

Learn more about Race-Class:

Ian Haney López Race-Class Academy:


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