by Greg Martinez
Latinos and Blacks are the two largest minorities in America. The media often refers to us as one large group by using the phrase “Blacks and Hispanics” or the more politically correct “people of color.” Both phrases are labels the media uses to signify the “presumed alliance” between these two groups.
President Obama referred to this presumed alliance during the 2008 campaign. He quoted Dr. Martin Luther King, calling the two groups “brothers in the fight for equality.” About one month before he was assassinated, Dr. King used this phrase in a telegram he sent to Cesar Chavez. The Black-Hispanic alliance was never stronger than when 67% of Latinos nationwide voted for Mr. Obama for president. He rewarded their support by nominating Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court.
Immigration has become a point of contention between Blacks and Latinos. Many Latinos have been critical of the President’s record on immigration and many African Americans feel that undocumented workers take jobs away from black workers. Deportation of illegal immigrants has increased under the Obama administration. The difference between Bush and Obama is that the focus has shifted from workplace raids to going after businesses that hire undocumented workers. President Obama has spoken out against the Arizona immigration law SB1070 and his administration has sued to enjoin the law despite widespread public support for it.
The relationship between Blacks and Hispanics has not been without conflict. The media loves to run stories about African Americans and Latinos fighting with each other. There was the story last summer about attacks on Mexicans by Blacks on Staten Island. In 2007, stories about the “ethnic cleansing” of blacks by Mexicans in Los Angeles made headlines. Some would have you believe that Blacks and Hispanics are at each other’s throats, but a 2008 Gallup Poll showed that 60% of Hispanics and 67% of Blacks think the two groups get along well with each other. The same survey showed that only 43% of whites thought Blacks and Hispanics get along with each other. Maybe the white respondents were projecting their own feelings on the two groups.
The National Association of Colored People (NAACP), although primarily a Black organization, has stood up for Latinos. They are a party to one of the many lawsuits against the Arizona immigration law. They didn’t have to take the stand they did, especially after they were snubbed by Mexican President Vicente Fox the same year he made some insensitive remarks about Afro-Americans.
The Hispanic population in this country has surpassed that of African Americans making us the largest minority in America. We Latinos should remember how the black civil rights leadership has also fought for us. The “presumed alliance” has not always been perfect, but let’s not fight each other over crumbs while the cake is still on the table.
Staff Writer, Greg Martinez.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those
of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.