Blacks and Hispanics, friends or frienemies?

Democratic presidential hopeful, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., greets people during a campaign stop at Sombrero Festival following a prayer meeting with Hispanic Evangelical ministers Friday, Feb. 29, 2008, in Brownsville, Texas. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)


When I lived in California the black and brown divide was discussed pretty regularly. As the largest minority group in the state, Hispanics (primarily Mexican immigrants and Mexican Americans) were sewing their political oats while the second largest minority group, African Americans, historically had the ear of the Democratic party.

I befriended a black minister while I was in Bakersfield and while discussing the Civil Rights movement and listening to recordings of Martin Luther King, Jr’s speeches he went off on a tangent about the burgeoning Mexican American population. Complaining how he worked in a grocery when he was younger, but now those jobs were primarily staffed with immigrants. And he bemoaned that jobs blacks used to get call for bilingual people to work there. He saw the Hispanic boom as a scourge. They were the competition for union and lower wage jobs and in his eyes were encroaching on the benefits he and other blacks fought for in the 1960s.

So he was pissed.

I met a lot of black people like that in California. Some of them were more anti-immigrant than the white Republicans I met.

This is pretty classic. Traditionally blacks and the immigrant group of the month have fought over jobs. First it was free blacks and the Irish. Then blacks and the Italians. Then the Germans, Asians and now the Latinos. This fight keeps wages low, because immigrants are often coming from poorer areas and the lower American wage is a step up from what they were making in their home country. This benefits big business, the US economy and the government. It doesn’t help black people any, as the burgeoning new minority usually gets accepted into the white majority over time.

I’ve long argued that it’s unlikely that there will be a “Hispanic” take over as Pat Buchanan and other people fear. Eventually the lighter Hispanics will be considered white and the darker ones will be in the low wage pit with the poorer blacks.

American has a racial divide and a class divide. No one likes to talk about it. But the Irish, Italians and even the Okies who moved to California during the Dust Bowl were not considered “white” when they first came to this country. But somehow, as time passed and they assimilated into the mainstream, those “not white” labels went away and the once hated Okies now run most of the San Joaquin Valley. That is the reality. No matter what anyone says the Hispanics will eventually assimilate into American society. A majority of them already have. History has set the precedent.

But in the meantime, Snob reader Von Butler sent me a Wall Street Journal story about Latino-Black relations in Texas. The story focused on how Mexican-Americans in Texas were coming around to Obama (apparently not enough for yesterdays vote), but the story was interesting otherwise.

“The idea that Latinos and African-Americans are divided is an old way of thinking,” says Carol Alvarado, a Clinton supporter running for a seat in the Texas House of Representatives from Houston. “We have come together on bond referendums, on immigration. On things that matter to African-Americans and things that matter to our people.”

Still, most analysts say that support for Sen. Obama is growing among Hispanics, and that would mark a sea change for two groups that have had their share of friction. Blacks and Latinos have competed for political spoils in cities, much as former waves of newcomers did. But the racial divide between black and brown has always been complicated by other variables, including competition for low-wage jobs, affirmative action and high rates of crime.

Lately that has begun to change, in Texas and elsewhere. In many big cities, virtually all the population growth in traditionally African-American voting districts now comes from newly arrived immigrants, mainly from Latin America. And that isn’t leading only to tension.

Blacks and Latinos are forming political coalitions to achieve mutual goals. Last year, blacks and Latinos in Texas bonded to defeat a Republican proposal for strict voter identification. In Texas, Latinos make up almost 36% of the population, blacks about 12%; nationally, Latinos are 15% and blacks are 12%.

The article revealed how blacks and Mexican-Americans had joined together to create a coalition against the white Republican majority in Texas. This makes me hopeful, but the article didn’t address the notion that it’s easy for two put-upon minority groups to join up against a common foe, but how would they vote when they’re picking among their own, fellow Democrats?

Also interesting in the piece, it directly refers to my description of California racial politics where the black and brown still duke it out on a semi-regular from political to street gang warfare.

Compared with California, where bitterness between blacks and browns has seethed since the 1990s riots in Los Angeles, interminority relations in Texas are fairly benign. Texans looking at California race relations are turned off by the angry anti-Mexican rhetoric of talk radio, both black and white, and horrified by tales of gang violence. Newspaper stories of Mexicans dueling with blacks in East Los Angeles and of Latino gangs keeping African-Americans off certain commercial boulevards sound here like accounts from a foreign land.

Roberto Alonzo, the 51-year-old son of Mexican-American farm workers, represents Oak Cliff in the Texas House of Representatives and has built a career serving African-American and Latino constituents. He’s lobbied for pay raises for parole-board employees who supervise ex-convicts, a measure popular with both constituencies. He’s fought for scholarships to train bilingual educators to work in schools with mostly Latino students. That cash trickles down to Latino families looking for help sending their children to college. Mr. Alonzo’s efforts also aid Texas’s historically black colleges, which now rely heavily on Latino applicants, with 6,000 Latinos enrolled in those colleges
in 2005.

“We have a history of working together,” says Mr. Alonzo, speaking from the portico of a law office where a get-out-the-vote barbecue was held last month. The mostly Latino crowd featured a few African-American families, some sporting union logos. Campaign buttons and stickers revealed an even split between Obama and Clinton supporters.

This makes me hopeful that in other areas of the country coalitions can be formed between blacks and Latinos despite the low wage job fight created by the American capitalist power structure. To not take it out on each other (which is what that power structure wants you to do) and work together to change the system and get better jobs and better wages for everyone. With black activists and politicians in tune with the American political power structure and Mexican-Americans numbers and will power the black and brown could be a force to be reckoned with – blacks at 12 percent of the US population and Hispanic Americans at 15 percent.

That’s 27 percent of pure muscle if we could all agree on something. The problem is, we don’t. Many Cuban Americans vote Republican out of their hard line on Cuba. Other groups are more unpredictable. Blacks often appear to be monolithic in their voting patterns. And its only that way because of shared suffering and oppression for more than 150 years. Misery loves company and for a long time that was all black folks had.

But can an anti-immigrant Right that often is disparaging to blacks create a bond. To paraphrase Captain and Tennnile, will bigots keep us together?

Over the years, affirmative action stirred competition between blacks and browns as they often competed for the same slots. Alfredo Blanco, 56, is a machinist with the Teamsters union in Houston, and an adamant Clinton supporter. His union leadership supports Sen. Obama, but he doesn’t. When it comes to government jobs, he complains, “Blacks get into places we’re not allowed to get in.”

But for many Latinos and blacks, political anger against Republicans trumps any lingering racial resentment, especially in the wake of redistricting in the state.

“We witnessed the re-segregation of Texas. It was raw and it was brutal,” recalls Ron Kirk, the former mayor of Dallas and 2002 Democratic candidate for Senate. Mr. Kirk, an African-American, ran with Hispanic banker Tony Sanchez of Laredo, the party’s candidate for governor. Both Democrats lost in 2002, a year when Republicans made gains across the country in the run-up to the Iraq war. However, both candidates showed they could draw sweeping majorities from each other’s core constituencies. Almost 820,000 Latinos cast votes in Texas that year, with nearly 80% supporting Ron Kirk. On the black side, nearly 90% of African-American voters cast their ballots for Mr. Sanchez.

Since then Texas Democrats have begun a comeback. The Supreme Court ruled one of the congressional districts redesigned under the DeLay maneuver, the 23rd represented by Republican Henry Bonilla, was illegally altered to dilute Latino voter strength in San Antonio and along the border. After some nips and tucks to balance its precincts, the 23rd went Democratic in 2006. Democrats that year also took back some of the legislative seats lost in the 2002 Republican landslide.

Since 2002, a Republican majority in the Texas House of Representatives — 88 of 150 seats — has dropped to 79 seats, putting a Democratic majority within reach this year if the party can win five more seats this year.

Many Latinos and blacks say Sen. Obama’s ability to mobilize young voters and African-American voters will increase November turnout across the state, giving the party a real shot at taking back the Texas House.

“Obama is the one bringing in the new Democrats,” says Mr. Alonzo, who calculates as many as three Republican seats in the Texas House may be vulnerable to a Democratic challenger in November, just in suburban Dallas.

We shall see.

(Thanks Vonn for the link!)

PS. I seriously have issues with the terms Hispanic or Latino.

I try to use them sparingly. They’re made up terms created by white Americans that Spanish speaking Americans had no say in. Personally, I would prefer if we referred to them by either their country of origin or as South Americans and Central Americas. Mexicans should be called Mexicans if US citizens are uncomfortable with referring to them as North Americans as, I hate to burst bigots bubbles, Mexico is part of North American making their people Americans. Just like the Central Americans are Americans and the South Americans are Americans. So are the Canadians. I’m rather militant about this and I know Mexican Americans and other Latin Americans are conflicted about which term to use while hating them both at the same time.

It’s like “colored” and “Negro.”

Central and South America and Mexico along with the Caribbean are filled with such diverse people and cultures it seems ridiculous to put them all in the same basket. The Brazilians speak Portuguese, for goodness sake. Are they “Hispanic?” We don’t do this to Europeans. We didn’t make up a term, like Eurasians. (And Europe should not count as a continent, it’s fricking part of Asia. It’s not like South American and Africa who are barely touching their neighboring continents.)

When we talk about people from Europe we always refer to them by their home country. I don’t know why this is so impossible to do with Mexicans, Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans and other Spanish speaking Americans can’t be referred to by their home countries.

They are not a monolith.

11 thoughts on “Blacks and Hispanics, friends or frienemies?

  1. TBS: Excellent. A subject I know deep in my bones. Having learned Spanish from Puerto Rican friends when I was a little boy, I have a cure for the problem you cite. My cure will never be adopted in a million years in the USA but I can hope for it. Every school should make learning Spanish, Arabic and Mandarin mandatory. And it should start in Kindergarten. End of problem.In New York, which I guess is America’s most non-American place, there is not the same kind of Black-Brown tension which obtains elswhere. And believe me, only White people who don’t know better fail to draw fine distinctions. American Black strongholds are West Harlem, East Brooklyn, Jamaica/St. Alban’s, Queens, White Plains, East Nassau/West Suffolk, and urban Northern New Jersey. Brooklyn is now Caribbean Black territory in terms of political power. Puerto Rican bases are East Harlem, Loisaida, throughout other parts of Queens, and West to Central Nassau, south the Amboys in NJ. Domenican strongholds are Washington Heights to Inwood and most of the South Bronx. Central Americans, including Southern Mexicans, Guatemalans, Hondurans, and Nicaraguans are starting to emerge with some political force in Suffolk County. Cubans and Portuguese are concentrated in Northern New Jersey. Not surprising in an area where you also find about 15 kinds of Italians, Irish and Jews. It’s a New York sport to draw these fine distinctions and have clearly defined neighborhoods. There’s less tension than you read about and in terms of labor issues there’s quite a bit of unity. I don’t think too many American Blacks are complaining about Dennis Rivera’s stewardship of SEIU-1199, nor are too many Puerto Ricans and Domenicans complaining about Roger Toussaint’s work as head of the TWU. I don’t have an opinion about how Weingarten is viewed by the rank-and-file of the TU.In South America, however, especially in the Northern part, just throw away any American notion of race or ethnicity you ever had. Everybody’s all thrown in together. The more money you have the nicer area you live. There is no “red-lining”. The social life is completely mixed.One of the parts of Obama’s theme that I find so off-putting living in Panama is how he conflates a “post-racial” society with non-partisanship. Around here it’s more “post-racial” than America can get in 500 years but in terms of politics, people like their parties and are loyal to them.Another interest aspect of this which I’ve mentioned here before is that there’s nothing offensive about describing someone by their skin-color, ethnicity, country of origin, region of origin, religion, sexual orientation or anything, because none of those categories carry any value judgments. They are merely descriptive. Along with that, as one would imagine, the amount of inter-racial and inter-ethnic joking among friends is huge, pervasive and not offensive in the slightest. It’s more of a bonding experience than an alienating experience. And friends love to INITIATE ethnic jokes in mixed crowds of friends ABOUT their own ancestry or characteristics. It’s kind of expected in a way. And it fits with a much looser and expansive sense of fun. I know Panama best but it’s true of the region as a whole. These countries are Catholic, not Calvinist or Baptist like the USA, and have strong Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist influences. The Jesus here bears more of a resemblence to George Carlin’s “Buddy Jesus” than the scary Jesus in America. More of the Golden Rule and less of the sword.But the nicest part about living outside a Calvinist/Baptist country and in a Latin country is that the question “What do you do?” is considered very, very offensive. It is not a conversation starter it’s a conversation ender. On the other hand, I’ve learned that when someone says to me “Que mas, maldito judio de mierda?” The right response is “Con ganas de matar a un lechugo de arabe.”But nobody’s ever asking anybody any details about anyone else’s business unless a proposition is on the table.Oh, and “Black” presidents and “Woman” presidents? Been there, done that, over and over again in modern South America. It’s not an ISSUE in the sligtest.How strange this must all sound?And the part I don’t understand is why it’s like this when there have been many colonizations and times of slavery and “coolie” labor just like in the USA.

  2. The problem with US slavery versus slavery in the Caribbean and South America was that in the US there were much harsher rules to keep the races separate and pressure to even oppress someone who looked white but had “black” blood in them.In South American there was a lot more mixing between the Spaniards, the Native Americans and the Africans, creating new and different social classes. Most of the time the half white offspring did not remain slaves if their parents were one. Also the US greatly feared slave revolts in the south, disrupting their economy and putting the colony at jeopardy just as the Spanish, French and Portuguese mixed natives in Central, South American and Caribbean rose up and ran out their European overlords. On top of that, Americans spent a lot of time trying to come up with reasons to enforce miscegenation and justify slavery. Thomas Jefferson was famously all over the map on the issue. While other countries, from Spain to England, seemed to agree that in some sense the Negro was a human being, Americans tried to justify slavery by creating all these bogus theories that Africans weren’t human, were a subspecies, a different race and meant to be subordinate to the white man.They often used the Bible to justify slavery, which is a bogus argument as American slavery was VASTLY different from any form of slavery that ever existed. Slavery in the Middle East, Mediterranean, Africa and Europe historically was more fluid. Your off-spring were not slaves. Slaves usually came from various wars and native groups who were captured. There were few stigmas about mingling with others of different ethnicities. And sometimes you could “buy yourself back,” through indentured servitude, or making extra money by working for other people. The US form of slavery is part of the reason why our country is vastly different from other countries who held African slaves. Black slavery went on much longer here than other parts of the Americas (we were the last one’s to abolish it). The white American’s feared race mixing because they thought it would lead to the colony, and later country, being overthrown. Therefore they created a caste system so punitive and sickening that the shadows of it still remain.In any other country in the Americas, most blacks would be considered “mixed.” No one but the US would have thrown all people with any trace of African heritage in the same box and mark it “colored.” When you’re anathema it encourages people to not view your suffering as relevant. Even educating a slave, like teaching them to read, was against the law. And it all came out of that fear of the slaves revolting, at the fear of revenge and rebellion. You could not do anything that would make a slave appear to be equal to a white man, because if you do, then it blows apart the flimsy argument for slavery, American Style. And it’s also why you have, to this day, certain whites who fear any glimmer of black power because they are scared that blacks are somehow “more racist” than whites because the possibly might rise up, take power and turn on whites. You’d ONLY have that fear if you did some really fucked up shit to people and nearly 200 years of slavery in North American combined with another 65 years of Jim Crow counts as “really fucked up.” Black people, by and large, aren’t so much interested in going out in a suicidal revenge fantasy. We mostly want to be left alone.But you can’t tell a bigot that. They know that if someone did to them what they did to my people they’d be bombing someone back to the stone age right now.They should just be happy that black people actually consider themselves to be American and are willing to participate in the system. That’s an amazing feat considering how we got here and how we were treated.As for the Calvinist argument, that is true. Most of the colonists who came to North America were Puritans, Calvinists who later evolved into Baptists and, for the educated expatriate class, Anglican (which became Episcopalian after the Revolutionary War). These people had a very different religious view from the Catholic church. It sort of explains why we’re so spastic on everything.Why Americans get uncomfortable over sex while being provocative at the same time. How we have no problem with ultra-violence in our entertainment and have a robust gun and military culture. How we can be incredibly uptight and hedonists at the same time.American culture is, by nature, bipolar. We’ve got Roman-style decadence on one end and another group waiting on the Rapture, trying to prop up Israel so Jesus can return.You’re going to have some confusion here.Black people are inferior, but we’re going to have sexual intercourse with them, but we won’t accept the offspring except when we do, but we won’t educate them, unless I actually love my half-black offspring which I’m not supposed to because they are mongrels, but when I die, in my will, it will say “let my slaves be free,” love, Thomas Jefferson. That’s the definition of bipolar. The same goes for the rampant sexism, often justified by the Bible. And the morality wars over homosexuality, also justified by the Bible. I’m a Christian, but I disagree with the whole “women should be subordinate and no one should be gay” thing. We’re also not supposed to eat shellfish yet I see folks eating shrimp by the boat load. If you read all of Leviticus there’s a slew of rules in there than on one adheres to any more. And the whole “gay” part, IMHO is about the decadence of the Roman culture which was freaky as hell and hedonistic. The early Jews were trying to differentiate themselves from the polytheists with their sex with young boys and sex with animals.That’s not the same thing as two adults in a consenting relationship.I guess what I’m saying is, and which you already know, Americans are kind of screwy. We created religions freedom so no one would be persecuted, religions flourished and now people want to change the constitution and make this a “Christian nation” which is the opposite of what the founders intended America to be.Sometimes it’s like were the Unholy Roman Empire, deciding who lives and dies, believing everyone should kneel before the greatness of the saviors of Democracy.I don’t know how you have a Democracy without Democracy, but I guess we’ve been doing that for almost eight years now. I guess Fascism isn’t THAT bad.

  3. TBS: All of your points are exremely well-taken. Some of that I had forgotten, some I never knew, some I knew all too well but didn’t want to dwell on.You are a scholar in a Cracker-Jack box, TBS. I’m now armed with new information and something of a revised perspective.The history of slavery here definitely makes sense vis-a-vis current race relations. And perhaps it has something to do with the New versus Old Testaments. Probably the reconquest, crusades and inquisition are the reason I never studied your line of thought on the issue. I probably wrongly conflated strains of Christianity which left your explanation unavailable to me.I’m not a believer but I do think that whatever one’s conception of Jesus is — supernatural, philosopher or composite figure of a strain of progressive judaism — the teachings of Jesus were a necessary palliative to the books of Deuteronomy and Levitcus. And I don’t think that there’s an argument that the Jesus of the New Testament is a rather more progressive figure. So, I’ll agree with you and do some more reading on the subject.My father has always been amazed at how tolerant Black people are in America and how American they feel. He’s always say “Christ, I White and I’m lucky in certain ways but I hate these people so much and I take all these pills an d drink all this vodka and I can’t get these dismal memories out of my head…where do Blacks get their patience..” And so on. Believe me, I’m no Kevin Federline. I guess shorthand for what I’m trying to express is the tortured Russian soul.Thomas Jefferson was all over the map on slavery, well the Kelso family was all over the map on the Russian Revolution and all that meant. Ultimately, it ends up in a cynicism and anger that one makes peace with or one doesn’t. One accepts America as it is or fights a Sysiphean battle or devotes oneself to good works or just making money and caring for one’s family or one leaves. We make our choices but we know our hands are filthy dirty and we try to justify it by saying it was what you had to do because of the times or because the professions were closed off or because English wasn’t your first language or nobody really cared about Hitler or whatever.That’s the environment I know. I made my choice so my son could enjoy the bounty of my work unbothered by silly decisions in Washington. And that bounty was was made possible by god knows how much brawling my father did and how he got through and married my mom and we have a lovely family.But 2 1-2 generations down with post-graduate education and money and away from the US, I still feel it.So, with all of the American slave history you cite and toxic racism that still obtains, I think the Old man’s question’s a good one. Where does the tolerance and patience and feeling of American-ness come from?And I can’t imagine someone with a better perspective, life experience and amount of education than you to take a crack at answering that question? Despite your accomplishments, what makes you NOT hate?I’m a very diplomatic person in my way, but when I see Lieberman the bastard traitor on TV the ghosts of the generations come back. Who knows maybe I could teach “K-Fed” a thing or two, no? The problem is I don’t think there’s a lot of cultural cachet in that story. He can read Chekhov or Gogol or Edgar Wallant or Richler and get the sense of it. It still plays like shit on MTV because it’s not American.

  4. Kelso: That is a fascinating question. And the answer is pretty complex.This is mostly my opinion. Other black people might feel differently, but I feel that a lot of black’s acceptance of America comes from us having no other place to go.Because we were robbed of our culture and history after African slaves were brought to the US, America is where we begin. Most blacks are mixed with white and Native American blood and Africa is a foreign place to us.Some blacks did go back to Africa (Marcus Garvey spearheaded a major movement, I can’t recall the time frame I think it was after the Civil War.) Many white southerners realized after importing new slaves from Africa was outlawed that the population of blacks out numbered whites in many ares of the south, and as slavery became more controversial they began backing movements to send blacks to Africa.The blacks who did leave went to the US colony in Liberia, which is a pretty messed up story, as the American blacks enslaved and abused the indigenous Africans there, acting out their former oppression with others.It was pretty perverse and there are still problems in Liberia today based on that move.But most blacks, obviously, did not return to Africa whether white southerners were sponsoring the move or if Marcus Garvey was trying to infuse former slaves with Pan-African spirit.It’s kind of like you’re a child born to abusive parents. Your parents treat you horrible, but they’re still your parents. You don’t know any other place than their home. So blacks who were born here are uniquely American because of their ethnicity and shared sacrifice, alternated in attitudes that ranged from:1) I hate America. We should rebel against it or disassociate ourselves from it (i.e. The Nation of Islam’s ongoing stance that the races should be separated, promoted heavily during the height of the Civil Rights Movement.)2) I want to love America. I’m going to prove to it that I am equal to others and that I am just as good a citizen as whites. (Re: College educated black men who joined the Armed services during WWII only to be denied the right to die for their country. Former slaves who fought for the Union during the Civil War. The Buffalo Soldiers fighting in the Spanish American War, etc.)3) I’m going to change the system from within. Here it isn’t so much about proving anything. It’s the argument that America’s racist policies are unlawful under the constitution and that we should use the system to enforce our rights and freedoms.4) I just want to be left alone. Let me take care of myself. This is more of the alternative view, similar to separation, but the argument that separatism would be fine if racial roadblocks weren’t tossed in the way to hinder progress. Basically if “separate, but equal” had actually meant things being equal. If schools had been equally funded and there had been no unfair prosecution or lynchings the Civil Rights movement might not have been so bloody.Also, considering all these points, you also can’t discount the role of religion played in some of these decisions. During slavery, blacks identified with the Jews of the Old Testament, the Exodus and the story of Moses. Many blacks were willing to just move on and quietly live their lives after slavery. But the constant persecution and abuse made the transition from slave to free citizen difficult, if not hazardous.Also in having nowhere else to go, it really takes violent revolt off the table. Many whites were already indifferent to blacks being slaughtered in the south. A violent rebellion would be counter productive. Whites were the majority, they had all the weapons, all the power. If one person acted out, they’d burn down a whole village and massacre its people just to make a point.That’s why the non-violence route was so important. A lot of people have bigoted thoughts, but most white people did not want to see blacks abused and disenfranchised if all they were doing was trying to cross the Edmund-Pettis Bridge in Alabama. The southern establishment’s harsh tactics to people walking or just trying to do mundane acts, like ride in the front of a bus, really demonstrated to the world how out of whack the American South was. Television was the number one weapon of choice for the Civil Rights Movement.Some blacks are patriotic. Most are not outwardly patriotic. We don’t necessarily feel the need to wear flag pins or decorate our lawns in red, white and blue for the Fourth of July.That’s why it was annoying how the media jumped over Michelle Obama for saying that for the first time in her adult life she was proud of her country. A LOT of black people could relate to that. It’s hard to feel “proud” when you’re being ignored or wronged all the time. When there’s been no reconciliation for anything. No atonement for slavery, lynching, rioting, massacring, discrimination, Jim Crow, segregation amongst other crimes. You can’t expect black people to be super grateful that in the last thirty years America has made an effort to at least not impede black progress. That’s why the “why don’t you get over it, all that stuff happened a long time ago” argument is maddening.Thirty years is all that separates the enforcement of integration throughout the south (they didn’t desegregate the schools in my mother’s hometown of Newport, Ark. until the late 1970s), and me being able to move freely about the country, living and working where I please. How can you fix all those crimes in thirty years? I honestly think that the reluctance of many whites to accept the fact that they all benefited from the oppression of black people for 200 years is keeping us from reaching reconciliation. There’s this refusal to admit it was that bad. That it was that pervasive and sick. That there was and still is a huge benefit to being born white in this country. The example I often use is Germany after the Nazi regime fell. The German citizens, many who cried “well, I didn’t gas any Jews. Don’t blame me,” were forced by the Allies to face the fact that they were all complicit in the act of murdering more than 6 million Jews for the most shallow and baseless of reasons. (Not to mention their aggression in starting WWII) They were forced to look at the concentration camps and face that they’d benefited from coveting the businesses and wealth of the Jews they imprisoned and sent away.Jewish blood was on all their hands. There are still some anti-semitic Germans and holocaust deniers, but Germany takes a hard line stance on intolerance and accepts what it did during WWII. They have worked hard to atone for it while trying to get passed it at the same time. Even if they don’t want to deal with it, they’ve been confronted with their greatest horror and shame.There’s no one big enough to “make” Americans face their demons. No one to get them to confront the massacre of the the Native Indians, or the enslavement of Africans and their subsequent repression. They can just free you and go, “This makes us even, right?” and run away from the reality.I don’t know how “Brown v. the Board of Education” made us even-stevens? I don’t know how the end of Jim Crow just makes it all hunky dory. I wish we could talk about race in this country and forgiveness and our history without getting all queasy. Just admit it. America has done some fucked up shit to people. Let’s talk about it. Let’s get to forgiveness and reconciliation. Let’s fix our justice system so that it’s fair to everyone, fix our schools so that education is equal for everyone.That’s why I wrote my satirical piece on my “Secret Council of American Negroes” blog called “<A HREF="http://since1865.blogspot.com/2008/02/america-worlds-worst-boyfriend.html“ REL=”nofollow”>Black America demands that White America Just Marry Her Already.” It dramat
    izes the complex relationship between blacks and whites in the US. It’s a cry that we’re Americans too. We believe in the dream too. So let’s work together. Let’s stop the denials. Let’s work shit out. Let’s be equals. Despite the harsh treatment we still want to believe in and love America. We just wish America would show that it loves and believes in us as well.It’s sick, I know. But if you’ve ever read the psychology of children who come from abusive or have an alcoholic for a parent, it really explains the convoluted, angery, but often tolerant nature of the black community.

  5. Let’s get something straight! As much as the press and government leaders try to deny that the tensions between blacks and latinos is racially motivated, it’s a struggle for limited resources; and, it’s based on racial differences – differences between blacks and hispanics.Gangs are a part of it; but, when latino gangs attack and kill blacks – who they know are not a part of any gang, it’s a race war – no different than the racists in the south in the 30’s through the 60’s.Latinos, especially in LA, have moved into black neighborhoods and started – though violence and intimidation – driving the black residence out. The mayor of LA, a latino himself, has little interest in supporting or protecting blacks – since his voting block is hispanic.If you do not think that Hillary’s identification with the hispanic population does not create an additional rift between the races – and I might add – the country as a whole, you are kidding yourself.

  6. anonymous: Financially motivated and racially motivated are two different things. Blacks and Hispanics do fight viciously over jobs, politics and territory, all which are about power and money. But “Hispanic” isn’t a race. There are white Hispanics and black Hispanics. There would have to be a lot more factors at play than Latino gangbangers fighting black gangbangers over drug territory for it to be explicitly racial. Even the fighting amongst gangsters is about money.And the competitive infighting is started by the businesses who want cheap labor. That’s the main reason why immigrants come to this country. So there isn’t any conspiracy going on. It’s a natural competition between two poor groups over wages American businesses want to keep depressed to keep overhead low.But they’d like the bickering to continue. They really don’t want blacks and Latinos to look up and realize that they’re being buffaloed by employers who exploit their vulnerabilities.

  7. ANONYMOUS: TBS gave you a perfect answer and if you stop to think about it for a second and weren’t so blinded by this silly campaign between two center-right corporatists, you’d realize that it’s Obama just as much as Clinton or the Republicans who is failing you by NOT looking at this from a CLASS-BASED perspective. In fact, he’s doing everything to avoid the kinds of issues TBS has raised in response to what you’ve written.Villagraigosa endorsed Clinton. That’s all he did. He didn’t help La “M” take away your home or your dog or your food. For heavens’ sakes. New York City had an asshole Republican mayor with strong ties to the mafia who could not prevent the Domenicans and the Russians from cutting deeply into the Sicilian/Neapolitan share of the drug trade. So, please. If all you Americans are now down to hurling charges of racism and ethnic cleansing over from whom I can buy my drugs then you’ve proven what I’ve suspected for a long time: AMERICANS ARE THE MOST IGNORANT AND BACKWARD PEOPLE ON THE PLANET.Are you really itching to turn this absurd election into a version of the Manley-Seaga battles in Jamaica, Jamaica and Jamaica, Queens in the 1970s? And if you don’t know what I’m referring to, I’d suggest you do some reading because it’s a terrible chapter in Caribbean-American and American history. And there was no Black or White, just another proxy fight in the Cold War. Manley was White and he was pro-independence and socialist and had Soviet help. Seaga was Black and was a USA puppet. Tens of thousands died. That’s an election, friend.But stay angry. Do your bit for the noble Obama cause. Kill a Mexican child. What do I care?

  8. kelso: I know!I realize that there’s this anachronistic belief that America doesn’t have a “class” system outside of the race paradigm, but that logic is woefully false and unproven. And the racial construct was largely created as a way to keep poor whites fighting with recently freed slaves all the time in, once again, an effort to keep wages down and to allow the elite to still run the country without interference from their poorer white brothers and sisters.That’s why every free market economy obsessed fiscal conservative screams “class warfare!” the minute anyone talks about unions or populism. That’s why the face of poverty is always presented as a brown or black one to convince middle class whites that either:A) there are no poor white peopleB) poor white people are poor because they want to beThe last thing the PTB want in this country is for people to figure out they’re the ones who’ve been stoking the fires of bigotry to keep everyone from turning on them.Just let The Man keep raping you cause one day, maybe, you can make enough money and he’ll let you be the rapist!Please. The sooner blacks and Mexicans realize this the better. If poor southern whites had figured it out maybe there wouldn’t have been a Civil War. God knows they didn’t benefit AT ALL from labor who could do everything they could, but for free.How could you fall for that one unless you really wanted to believe you were “racially” superior?

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