#Resistencia (Training Notes)

Lesson One: 10 take-aways on building coalitions and uniting your community.

The Experts:

Carmen Perez, Executive Director of The Gathering for Justice
Nelini Stamp, National Membership Director at the Working Families Party
Andrea Gompf, Editor-in-chief, Remezcla
Jess Torres, Deputy Communications Director, Latino Victory Project

The challenge:
Latinos are often clumped into one category, however, historically the Latino community has been fragmented through differences of identity and differences in heritage. We have an opportunity now to unite. Here’s what you can do:

“Uncomfortable is where we are going to grow.”
– Nelini Stamp

1. Do your research:
Learn the history of other social movements. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Build on the work of those who came before ou. How might tactics that worked before be reapplied in today’s context? Could things that didn’t work in the past be effective now? If so, why?

United Farm Workers
Poor Peoples Campaign
Civil Rights Movement
American Indian Movement
Black Liberation Movement
UFW Story
Pullman Porters Movement

2. Open doors. Provide a pathway to leadership for others in your community.

Create a place for people to enter the movement. We need everyone. Don’t alienate allies. Instead, think about how you are including people in your efforts. Ask yourself questions. How are you getting local groups involved? Are you engaging folks you have the most influence with (classmates/friends/family.) The more groups you can get to work together, the more of a lasting impact you can have in your community.

Creating different levels of engagement will increase the likelihood of individuals participating as well as decrease the pressure people may feel when joining a movement. (Someone may be more likely to participate if they know they can join a rally one weeknight but may not if they feel pressured to attend a weekly meeting for the next 6 months.)

3. Use your story to build community (aka coalitions):

Telling our stories and communicating with each other about who we are gives us courage and unites us. We must tell the diverse stories of Latino communities globally, not just in the United States or in Latin America.

Storytelling is a huge component of building relationships and creating empathy. When we see ourselves in each other, we make it easier to unite and build coalitions, partnerships and engage allies.

Social media is valuable in telling these stories because they are free and accessible to many. Think through where is your audience could be. What platform makes most sense for your story?

Engage allies through story to build coalitions. Latinos are a part of everything — not just one or two issues. We can and should contribute to many movements because they affect us. Don’t be afraid to lead conversations about environmental action, reproductive justice, etc. Remember, we must support each other and stand up for each other. Our fights are intertwined.

4. Have Courageous Conversations: 

It takes courage to talk to family and friends whose views differ from ours. It takes courage to talk about race and to hold the people who voted for Trump accountable, but they are conversations that must happen if we are to make progress.

Some tips:
Pay attention to your words. Language is very important in reaching people where they are. Be kind.

Don’t assume anything! Bring people to your side by asking nonjudgmental questions that get people to think and arrive at conclusions on their own.

Also, don’t just tell people they’re wrong. Instead, educate them about where we are in the movement. Show them how they and the people they care about are directly impacted by our issue.

Use your research. Have educational resources available about times in history that can relate to your cause.

Engage friends and family through “little pushes” — there is a fine line between agitation and engagement. Examples of little pushes are: “Hey can you join me on this march?” or “Hi, I noticed there is an event on your campus if you’re interested”

There are toolkits available to have these conversations.

5. Build a squad and define roles: 

Build collective power by uniting different people and groups who may not be talking to each other yet and have varied or complementary strengths.

Host dinner parties to bring people together.

Make these meetings productive. Identify what you want to change. Come up with demands and action steps. Set goals. Distribute responsibility. And take care of each other.

Then, as a team organize and coordinate how to spread information through their own social networks.

6. Build YOUR squad.

Not only is it important to find a team that supports the work, find a team that supports YOU. Movement building is tough emotional work, make sure you have safety nets in place for when things get tough. Have a close friend or family member on stand by who understands the need for a safe space.

7. Identify what you love to do, and bring it to the movement.

Whether it is social media, legal, public speaking or communications, bring your skills and passions to the movement. We build collective power by uniting different talents and identifying who can contribute in what way. Define roles for people and let them shine!

“Because we are cultured people, we need culture in every organizing community that we have”

– Carmen Perez

Embrace the power of art and music. We need artists and songs in all the languages that we speak. Write a song. Put it up. Make a video. For example, the Peace poets work in protest of Eric Garner’s murder. Art and signage are incredibly powerful in movements. Take for example the art from the Women’s march.

8. How to plan a protest or rally:

Know your audience and how to get them involved. What will ignite them?
Engage allies you’ve started to talk to through informal chats and meetings.

Think through safety precautions:
Safety from police
Safety from opposition
Safety for vulnerable communities (youth, undocumented folks)

Have effective social media planning and distribution of information
Create a concise message that is easy to understand and share
Create message options for allies and supporters
Come up with a creative hashtag
Have multiple platforms that people can engage with (Instagram AND snapchat)
Some more advice on how to organize a protest and questions to consider:

9. Final thoughts:

It is O.K. to make mistakes. Don’t forget that in organizing, you learn by doing. It’s ok to make mistakes. We are natural organizers; we organize people constantly in our daily lives (holidays with family, dinners with friends, a trip to the grocery store with family). Now, look at the ways you’re already taking action in the political sphere, and ask: “How do I take this up a notch?” Feel ready to organize a protest? Did you know a Latina organizer was at the helm of the airport rallies in response to the Muslim Ban?

10. Suggested Reading/Watching:

Essays by Frederick Douglass
“Rules for Radicals”
Ella Baker works
Tony Morrison
Social justice comics
Netflix docs on social justice (Great suggestions here)
Find the venue, genre, medium you love, and look for the social justice and progressive works.

Learning resources:
How to videos on Youtube
Resisthere.org action tool kit: http://resisthere.org/portfolio/action-toolkit/

Lesson Two: How to organize to persuade your elected officials and impact policy.

Read Remezcla’s amazing summary, and watch the lesson HERE.

Lesson Three: Your story is your weapon.

The Experts:

Marangeli Mejia-Rabell, Philadelphia Latino Film Festival
Mala Muñoz, Locatora Radio


1. Why Storytelling for Activism? Movement and Action starts by sharing our stories.

  1. Serves as a tool for uplifting stories that have been misinterpreted or driving the narrative of our issues and movements.
    1. Example: “La Malinche” – showed how her actions were strongly influenced by her environment rather than by betrayal.
  2. Storytelling creates a space for open dialogue.
  3. Storytelling creates an emotional connection with your audience that will serve as a bridge for you to spread awareness.

2. Start with research. Decide what story you want to tell and what you’re exposing. Why should people care?

Research blogs for ideas on how to get started and follow their social media for inspiration. Don’t limit your research to those who agree with you. It’s important to read mediums that promote views opposite yours. This will help you come up with an effective response to combat their arguments.

Dare to tell the stories no one will talk about. Your courage can inspire others to join the movement and tell their own stories. Your audience seeks to self-identify in your stories either through shared experiences or by having their community represented. It is essential to determine who you want your audience to be and how to cater to their interests early on.

3. Branding Yourself & Finding the Right Audience:

Your persona is crucial in branding your storytelling. Embrace the qualities that make you stand out. Authenticity is important! Embrace your “sabor”!
When speaking to your community, accountability and approachability are key. Put a face to the name by building a social media presence that showcases your personal brand. People should be able to connect with you through your posts. Involve your community in your storytelling—invite them to speak and share their stories.  

4. Platforms matter:

The most effective platform to tell your story depends on who are you trying to reach.

Storytelling does NOT have to be limited to one medium. Ask yourself – where is your audience most active.

Podcasts are great for captivating an audience on an issue. They are also cost effective and require little to no equipment; only a computer, a phone, and a quiet space.

With film, think about what you are putting on the table that starts a discussion for social change. Don’t doubt the power of letting the audience make their own decision. Provide all the facts, create the space, and let them start the dialogue.

5. How to Handle Negative Feedback:

Be diplomatic with the people who oppose you. Relationships are a long term process-–it is healthy to create a dialogue, even if you find that you must agree to disagree. It’s important to be respectful of others’ opinions. Embrace the idea of “self dragging” by being your own worst critic.