Monday, February 11, 2008
On Issues That Really Matter, There’s More That Unites Blacks and Latinos Than Divides Us
Friday, February 08, 2008
By: Judge Greg Mathis, Special to BlackAmericaWeb.com
On Tuesday, Feb. 5, senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton battled it out, each seeking to become the frontrunner in the race for the Democratic nomination for the presidency. After the polls closed, neither candidate could truly claim a clear victory; each posted important wins. One thing was clear, however: Blacks and Latinos are not supporting the same candidate. Eight out of every 10 black voters cast a ballot for Obama, while the majority of Latino voters were pro-Clinton.
While there are differences between the two communities, there are also many shared concerns. Why, then, is there such a divide between the two groups on just which candidate should represent the Democratic Party in the national elections? One has to wonder if perhaps the black-Latino divide -- perpetrated by the media and a government that wishes to see disadvantaged groups fighting over crumbs -- is so great that even a charismatic personality and message of change can’t bridge the gap.
From the streets to the workplace, black-Latino tensions have been simmering for years, with each group fighting to gain economic and political power. Fighting between black and Latino gangs have divided neighboring communities in Los Angeles and in parts of New Orleans, where there is a recent influx of Latino immigrants. African-Americans across the country fear they are overlooked for labor jobs in favor of a Latino worker who may work for lower pay. And middle class African-American homeowners are upset with the increase of Latino homeowners in their communities. Many Latinos say there is no tension between the two groups, only envy; some think African-Americans are jealous of the gains Latinos have been able to make.
It is beyond time for the two groups to unite.
Polls have shown that blacks and Latinos share the same views and concerns when it comes to education, healthcare and the justice system. Each group struggles with supporting families and raising children in a country where the playing field has still not been leveled. Why then, do we continue to separate ourselves? Because that is what the powers that be want us to do.
In 2005, black and brown communities in Los Angeles were able to join together to elect Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Chicago’s black and Latino communities did the same in 1983 to elect Harold Washington, the city’s first black mayor. By working as a team, both communities benefited and were instrumental in bringing change to their city’s political system.
The Democratic primaries are far from over. It is not too late for black and brown to come together -- on the issues and on a candidate. Unity will send a strong and powerful message and set the stage for a new relationship between our two communities.
Judge Greg Mathis is national vice president of Rainbow PUSH and a national board member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.