Tunis Hebdo, Tunisia
African Americans ‘Dread’ Growing Power of Latinos
Translated By Sandrine Ageorges
June 5 June 11 Issue
In August 1963, 250,000 people marched on Washington to demand jobs
May 1 protest in Los Angeles. Are Latinos somhow supplanting Blacks? (below)
Three students from Clinton High School picket their school as it becomes the
The United States, as we all know, is a country of immigrants. Three main communities shape today’s population: the Whites, the Blacks and the Latinos. If the first category is the most privileged in terms of civil rights, the other two communities have always more or less been marginalized, even if the Constitution grants them (on paper) equal rights and duties as their fellow fair-skinned citizens.
The social status quo that has been maintained during recent decades appears to be headed for turbulent times, and is likely to threaten the “home front.” The vast protests held by Latinos during March and April to demand legalization for millions of underground immigrants is seen by some observers as a warning bell. And the warning is underlined by the new-found influence of America’s Latino community. The law of numbers in the country of Uncle Sam – as is true everywhere – is a powerful influence on he politics of the State.
This boisterous demonstration of strength by this overwhelming human tide is a matter of great concern to the Black community. African-Americans seriously dread seeing a Latino breakthrough detrimental to their own social and economic situation, which is already regarded as serious. They especially fear that the programs and the reforms adopted in their favor during the 1960s, after the tremendous sacrifice and violence suffered by the Civic Rights Movement will be abandoned – purely and simply to benefit the newer immigrants of Hispanic origin, relegating Blacks to the rank of third-rate citizens.
Blacks refuse to compare recent Latino protests to their movement in the 60’s. African Americans recall that they weren’t immigrants, but fully-fledged American citizens that took to the streets after suffering centuries of slavery, rape, lynching and discrimination. We didn’t choose to come to the United States, we were brought here as slaves. And we were deprived of our basic rights although we were citizens of this country. Many of these problems have remained unresolved since the 60’s. But now we may be relegated to the status of a secondary concern, said one Black university professor.
The Black community dreads above all that it will see its economic condition worsen due to competition from Latinos. In 2004, 72% of America’s Black community between the ages of 20 and 30 having had abandoned high school and were unemployed, while only 19% of Hispanics were in a similar position. Latinos survive better because of their accommodating attitude toward employment, which fit in nicely with capitalist ethics: they accept working long hours at low salaries. They hardly ever complain and rarely avail themselves of the social protections that normal employees would.
To summarize, Black Americans are worried and are asking themselves: Will the power of Latino immigrants diminish the value of their secular struggle and speed their marginalization?