Alliances and Coalitions


Working on structural racism is a collective process that often involves the formation of alliances or coalitions. The nature of these arrangements often changes over time. Ties get tested when “the rubber hits the road;” that is, when people are called upon to step out publicly in support of a racial equity position or controversial action, as well as when leadership changes and at other junctures.

It is useful to work towards authentic representation of the different groups and interests whose lives are being affected by the racial equity work being done. Inclusive equitable processes help ensure that norms are respectful of different cultures and mindful of uneven power relationships. Alliances and coalitions need to be strategic as well, and they often need to go deep into decision-making process to avoid mirroring dominant culture processes and assumptions. One thing to consider is whether majority rule is the most fair or effective way to achieve these goals in a group process. Another is how timelines and outcomes are defined. A third is how consequences and risks are distributed. It is helpful to remember that the highest stakes in many racial equity efforts rest with individuals – not organizations or institutions. For example, in community change efforts, residents usually are experiencing current inequities very directly, they generally plan to stay in the community regardless of how the work turns out and they have to live with tensions during its process and any fallout if things don’t go well. In addition to the resources found here, it may be helpful to review the resources and tools in the Community organizing section.

Case studies



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