Leondar-Wright, Betsy

Betsy Leondar-Wright
4 July 2021Feature

Middle-class activists often don’t see that their version of anti-racism can be classist

The recent surge of anti-racist activism and consciousness-raising in the US has been thrilling to see and to participate in. I feel hope that racism will diminish in the near future.

But I found in my research that the way most social justice organisations have done diversity work and advocated for anti-racism is infused with professional middle-class culture. And that’s alienating a lot of potential working-class and poor supporters of all races. 

At the 2016 White Privilege…

1 August 2017Feature

How can middle-class campaigners become better at cross-class collaboration? An excerpt from the pioneering book Class Matters

After some painful rifts along class lines in the 1990s, I began looking for resources about cross-class alliances. Fred Rose’s and Linda Stout’s wonderful books helped me – but I found no workshops to attend, no newsletters to read. Slowly I came to the conclusion that I could write something myself. In 2002, when I thought of writing for middle-class activists in particular, the ideas started to flow.... Writing this book was like making a patchwork quilt. In patchworking, you cut away…

1 April 2017Feature

How would anti-racism infused with working-class culture be different from the common practices of today?


Betsy Leondar-Wright. Photo: Rodgerrodger via Wikimedia

I’ve been asked a question that I can’t answer, and I wonder if you, the reader, can help answer it.

The most common forms of anti-racist consciousness-raising practised on the left today – workshops; special sessions to talk about internal race dynamics; book discussions; instantly ‘calling out’ oppressive comments; and hammering out statements of ideological commitment, all using specialised terms such as ‘white…

1 February 2017Feature

Paying tribute to an amazing working-class Jewish lesbian thinker and activist

Felice Yeskel Photo: Class Action

This summer, PN is planning to bring Betsy Leondar-Wright to the UK to lead sessions at Peace News Summer Camp and other events. Betsy has been leading workshops on class and classism since the 1970s, and is a senior trainer with Class Action, based in Boston, Massachussetts. In this article, written in 2011, Betsy paid tribute to Felice Yeskel, a Class Action co-founder and close friend who had died recently.

Working in…

1 February 2016Feature

The final part of our interview with Betsy Leondar-Wright, author of Missing Class

For some decades, Betsy Leondar-Wright has been running workshops about classism, for the last dozen years as part of Class Action, a group based in Boston, Massachussetts, in the US.

In an interview with PN, Betsy notes that many of us have a picture we’ve built up from the women’s movement and other such movements: ‘We have a template: there’s a dominant group, there’s a targeted group/an oppressed group, and in Class Action we’re using this template all the time.’…

1 February 2016Feature

How should a white anti-racist respond to racist remarks by another white person?

Betsy Leondar-Wright. Photo: Rodgerrodger via Wikimedia

How should a white anti-racist respond to racist remarks by another white person? How does it change things if the anti-racist is middle-class, and is reacting to the prejudice of someone who is working-class?

In her book Class Matters, long-time activist and trainer Betsy Leondar-Wright tells an arresting story that turns the conventional wisdom on its head. Betsy, who is white and middle-class, was the…

1 October 2015Feature

The first part of an interview with author, trainer and activist Betsy Leondar-Wright

Betsy Leondar-Wright, the programme director of Class Action on the south side of Boston, is a bright-eyed, sparkling, high-energy interviewee. She speaks faster than anyone I’ve ever had to transcribe before, and laughs throughout our 90 minutes on Skype, despite talking about some pretty challenging issues. She is candid about her own past shortcomings, and respectful to people she has disagreed with.

I can’t imagine anyone not liking her.

Betsy is especially excited…