Updated: Aug 24, 2022
For some people, daydreaming about coalition work can conjure up visions of seamless unity, love and collective belonging. While these conditions are admirable to strive for, it is important to remember many people do not experience coalitions in this way.
The communities experiencing the most brutal direct assaults from our currently oppressive, extractive economy are also the same communities with the least access to institutional power. Joining forces in coalition with those who have more privilege and access can be a worthwhile strategic move and also can leave those most marginalized vulnerable to further oppression and exploitation. When referring to Coalition Politics, Dr. Bernice Reagan Johnson (of Sweet Honey in the Rock fame) explains “The only reason you would consider trying to team up with someone who could possibly kill you is because that’s the only way you can figure you can stay alive”.
Let that sink in for a moment.
The only reason you would consider trying to team up with someone who could possibly kill you is because that’s the only way you can figure you can stay alive.
Whew. The stakes are high folks. Lives are on the line. Deep reflection of these power dynamics by those with more access to power and privilege in coalitions is of the utmost importance.
Check out this piece summarizing some of Dr. Reagan Johnson’s work around coalitions as well as exercises to deepen your understanding of how to more deeply understand where your political home and coalition work are positioned in your life.