Interracial political coalitions: an analysis of justice for janitors campaigns in Houston, TX
MetadataShow full item record
The history of the United States is one of racial division and conquest. People of color have employed every method of resistance available to them to defend themselves against white racist aggression. Large political coalitions among racially oppressed groups have been relatively rare in United States' history. Political scientists and sociologists have revised downward early predictions of coalitions among these groups. Most contemporary social science details the problems confronting interracial alliances but do not detail empirically supported solutions. This thesis fills the gap in the literature by analyzing two interracial political campaigns in Houston, Texas. In so doing, I use extended case method and grounded theory to define the organizational structures, ideologies, and political climates that skillful organizers have used to successfully launch and maintain political coalitions among African Americans, Latinos, and whites. Through participant observation, in-depth interviewing with organizers from Justice for Janitors campaigns in 1986 and 2006, and content analysis, I extend social movements and critical race literatures. The thesis extends Bell's interest convergence theory to include struggles for civil and economic rights conducted in the new millennium primarily in support of Latinos. Contrary to the political process model and in support of interest convergence theory, I find that Justice for Janitors campaign outcomes depended on whether white policymakers clearly saw whites' interests in supporting racial justice. Even with similar political climates, organizers' achieved success through sacrificing Latina janitors' racialized interests to bring union demands into agreement with white policymakers' goals. This case study gives close attention to one aspect of the union's negotiations of the 2006 political climate, namely the union's careful framing of the movement to minimize discussions of race in a white racist context. Finally, this thesis also looks inside the movement and analyzes the roles that personal racial ideology and organizational structure played in the trajectory of the 2006 campaign. I conclude with a discussion of interracial political coalitions and what lessons future organizers and aggrieved parties can learn from Justice for Janitors' efforts in Houston, Texas.
Bracey, Glenn Edward (2008). Interracial political coalitions: an analysis of justice for janitors campaigns in Houston, TX. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from