The Rap

Ask yourself; can you explain why your issue is important? Can you explain your organizing campaign in two minutes or less? Thinking through how you move people to your point of view. This basic declaration of your major issues made to a person or group of people in a mobilization campaign is called THE RAP. Without doubt THE RAP is one of the most important tools in any organizing drive and is a basic building block of any mobilization effort. New organizers often develop a rap without even thinking about it as a necessary step.

They just look it as “what they say to people to get them interested.” The key to success in ANY PROJECT is effectively communicating what you want to accomplish and how you intend on accomplishing those goals. That may seem a simplistic statement but think about how many conversations you have had in your lifetime where the words “what I mean by that was” were used. Since we have already established the political education and mobilization of our targeted community as a primary objective in our organizing practice. Lets proceed from the idea that clear and concise communication is required to make this happen. While it may be obvious to you and members of your organization why the issue (or issues) you are working on are important that doesn’t mean everyone automatically understands the importance.

You have to write it down. What are the main points? What information is vital and what can wait? More importantly what do the people in the community want to know? What are their issues? What are they talking about to each other? It may seem simple but if no one knows what you are doing then how will you ever accomplish the change you desire. Open communication and transparency in your organizing practice are important, especially when working with people on a community level. This keeps the organizing and mobilization efforts you are undertaking with others from becoming isolated from the greater community you are working with. Working in the community is a privilege and a trust.

Communicating with others: Often, the greatest obstacle to successful mobilization is our inability to effectively communicate about the issues facing the community. Intentional change is built on the practice of people understanding each other and how their respective visions of the world work together. If you cannot speak to people in a meaningful way about the change you want that change will never happen.

Use language people can understand: talk to people at a level you and they are both comfortable with. Inexperienced organizers often try to talk to what the perceive as someone else's “level.” This is a mistake. It is arrogant and elitist. What usually ends up happening is talking down to people. Big mistake. Just talk like you normally do.

Communication demands respect for others: Listening to one another creates respect. The dysfunctional relationships (racial, economic, cultural) in society we are organizing against stem from a lack of communication and respect. This is particularly true in gender power dynamics – people are constantly interrupting each other – constant interruption is a sign of disrespect and a sign you aren’t taking the person talking serious.

Listening is a form of communication: When you take the time to really listen to another person it does a couple of things immediately. First, the respect and empathy you feel for others is immediately recognized. The individuals and groups you are assisting will take your willingness to listen as a sign of solidarity and desire to work on the needs of the community from the community's perspective.

Talk to People: Articulating to others the group's goals will help more clearly define the vision for you and for those listening. The more you do it the better you will get at delivering your message, and the more powerful the message will become.

Listen To People: Be open and listen to how others respond to the articulation of your vision. You'll know by their response if they understand and support your vision and goals. Use this feedback to make modifications if required.

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