In Minnesota, GOP operatives read in Clinton’s slim victory an opportunity to gain ground with their racially coded, anti-immigrant, Islamophobic appeals. Yet in 2018, progressives in the state not only stalled these efforts, they won across races, defining what it means to be “Minnesotan” through an aspirational narrative of multi-racial populism.
As a markedly white state with a growing, politically-engaged Somali-American population, Minnesota seemed ripe for the race-baiting and anti-immigrant appeals core to right-wing politics, now turned feral under Trump. Progressive leaders in the state confronted a familiar dilemma: pursue white working-class defectors by focusing on economic issues or mobilize a disenchanted base by putting racial justice front and center.
But they chose not to choose.
We discover how, through rounds of research and strategic implementation of findings, a coalition of grassroots and labor groups found a narrative that speaks to both race and class concerns. From a 43,000 person celebration of the Muslim holiday Eid-al-Adha, to carefully considered door-knocking operations, to interactive social media memes, the Greater Than Fear campaign showed that we can simultaneously drive turnout from our base and persuade the middle.
Meet our Interviewees
Imam Asad Zaman
Imam Asad Zaman is Executive Director of Muslim American Society of Minnesota. In 2005, he co-founded the Muslim Day at the Capitol, which has been replicated in nine other states and at the nation’s Capital. He cofounded the Rabbi Imam Round Table and has cohosted it since 2011. He is the board chair of Faith in Minnesota.
Doran Schrantz is the Executive Director of ISAIAH and Faith in Minnesota, a faith-rooted, state-wide, community organizing project of over 125 congregations and mosques, a barbershop and beauty shop collective and 150 community-based childcare centers. Ms. Schrantz has been at the center of ISAIAH’s development from a small, more locally focused organization of 64 member institutions, to an organization considered one of the most powerful forces in Minnesota around issues of racial and economic justice.
Minister JaNaé Bates
Minister JaNaé Bates is the Communications Director of Faith in Minnesota and ISAIAH where she specializes in integrating grassroots faith-based organizing and narrative strategy. She has over a decade of academic and professional experience in ministry, social justice, and communications.
Founder and CEO of Uprise, Sharon Rose Goldtzvik is a social justice advocate and communications strategist. She’s who activists, advocates, and funders call when they need to tell their stories and make change in local, national, and international arenas, and who reporters call when they need expert sources and top progressive voices. Sharon has served as a spokesperson and consultant on feminist issues, foreign policy, human rights, economic justice, and international development for nonprofits in the US and internationally.
Brave New Words takes listeners on a journey around the globe with renowned communications researcher and campaign advisor Anat Shenker-Osorio as she unpacks real-world narrative shifts that led to real-world victories. From electing the dynamic Jacinda Ardern Prime Minister of New Zealand, to repealing a national ban on abortion in Ireland, to beating back right-wing race baiting in Minnesota, Anat and her guests explore what made it possible to engage the base, persuade the middle, send the naysayers packing, and win.