Racism Is Not Enough: Minority Coalition Building in San Francisco, Seattle, and Vancouver


Scholars have long argued that the marginalized racial status shared by ethnic minority groups is a strong incentive for mobilization and coalition building in the United States. However, despite their members’ shared racial status as “Orientals,” different types of housing coalitions were formed in the Chinatowns of San Francisco, Seattle, and Vancouver during the 1960s and 1970s. Asian race-based coalitions appeared in San Francisco and Seattle, but not in Vancouver, where a cross-racial coalition was built between the Chinese and southern and eastern Europeans. Drawing on exogenous shocks and process tracing, this article explains how historical legacies—specifically, the political geography of settlement—shaped this divergence. These findings demonstrate how long-term historical analysis offers new insights into the study of minority coalition formation in the United States.

Studies in American Political Development