ABSTRACT

Economic justice advocacy in the U.S. was historically constrained by the belief that addressing racial inequality within a fundamentally racist society would trigger backlash against economic justice campaigns. Since the Great Recession, however, economic justice organizations across the U.S. have begun to prioritize racial equity alongside economic fairness. This chapter examines the early embrace of racial justice organizing by Chicago's Grassroots Collaborative. Prioritizing race led Grassroots Collaborative from campaigns focused solely on collective bargaining or economic policy. Instead, the organization began to emphasize racial disparities in public spending and taxation. In the 2010s, this approach supported victories for the Chicago Teachers Union, for Tax Increment Financing Reform and for budgets that prioritize public health over policing. These outcomes suggest that racial justice organizing enhances the ability of urban community organizations to win economic justice goals.