A - 66 West 12th Street
Shanelle Matthews is the communications director for the Movement for Black Lives, an ecosystem of 150 organizations creating a broad political home for Black people to learn, organize, and take action. In 2016, she founded the Radical Communicators Network (RadComms) to strengthen the field of strategic communications, as well as Channel Black, a program that prepares progressive spokespeople to make critical, real-time interventions through the media. She collaborates with social justice activists, organizations, and campaigns to inspire action and to build narrative power. In 2017, she joined The New School as its inaugural Activist-in-Residence. She currently teaches critical theory and social justice with an emphasis on Black resistance. She is co-authoring Framing New Worlds: Resistance Narratives from 21st Century Social Movements, a forthcoming anthology.
Shanelle teaches the first year Gural cohort. In 2021-22, students in this course are focusing on understanding social movements: Who are organizers? What are the elements of social movements? What is required to politicize, galvanize, and radicalize people in order to wrest power away from the billionaire elites and build power for the masses? The course begins with a focus on the summer of 2020 when collective outrage spurred decentralized uprisings in defense of Black lives in all 50 states, with a demand to defund police and invest in Black communities. This brought global attention to abolitionist arguments that the only way to prevent deaths such as Mr. Floyd’s and Ms. Taylor’s is to take power and funding away from police. Long before the 2020 uprisings, organizers and activists built social movement infrastructure to harness the organic momentum and the energy of the protests and uprisings in order to turn righteous rage into political, social, and narrative power. Infrastructure like organizations that can receive and distribute resources; multi-dimensional and cross-movement strategies and trainings; money; movement building ideologies; relationships; and more. The course explores these questions and others through readings, discussions, films, guest lectures, and case studies. Students examine the 2020 summer protest cycle and the movement and power building work of the Movement for Black Lives and the organizations therein as a site for learning and exploration of protest and power, with an emphasis on race, class, gender, (dis)ability, and sexuality.