Black-Brown divide revealed in polls

Story By: Marcell Dilworth

There is a growing divide between African-Americans and Latinos.
This divide has been highlighted through the 2008 Presidential election. On the Republican side, John McCain seems to have pulled off a surprise victory, while the Democratic Party candidates are still trying to figure out ways to get the edge over each other.
When the Democratic Party Primaries made its way to California, many of Barack Obama’s supporters started realizing that they needed to figure out ways to convince Latino voters to support his candidacy. It became clear that there was a divide between African Americans and Latino voters.
Art Amaro, Fresno City College professor of Chicano-Latino Studies, said he believes there is a divide between Blacks and Latinos and the divide goes back many years, and a lot of it has to do with competition.
“The system throws out some crumbs and people have to fight over those crumbs,” said Amaro.
Amaro said Latino and African Americans had to fought over issues of poverty, man power, and scholarship programs.
“When money comes from Washington D.C. for low income housing to Fresno,” Amaro said, “everybody has to fight over their part of the money, it almost like a turf war, a turf war that forces different organizations to promote their cause with very little consideration for others.”
In an opinion piece written in the New York Post for Hispanic Business Maganzine, Steven Malanga wrote, Commentary: The Great Black-Hispanic Split, which pointed out that until the 1960’s many African-American leaders were uneasy with immigration.
Malanga wrote, “Martin Luther King Jr. believed that African-Americans and poor immigrants could become political allies. Later, Jesse Jackson heralded the imminent arrival of a mighty ‘rainbow’ coalition of African-Americans and Immigrants and touted such liberal policies as amnesty for illegals.”
He continued, “Such views clearly helped soften anti-immigration attitudes in the African-American community, but since immigration re-ignited as a national issue in 2006, African-American anger has clearly grown.”
Fresno is a city that has a very large Latino population and many of them have worked their way up the ladder to become supervisors. Some believe that once in positions of power, Latinos do what many have done in the history of America: make extra efforts to look out for their own race.
Kehinde Solwazi, FCC professor of African-American Studies, agrees with the concept. He said that Latinos are doing no different than any other community, “America is not about assimilating everybody, that is the rhetoric they give out, but in fact, America is made up of people and their interest groups.”
He continued, “If this was an all Italian community, you would have Italian organizations and those organizations want to control the schools and the businesses, the businesses would be Italian and that is the way America is set up.”
Amaro told the story about a Latino contractor that got contracts to help re-build Louisiana after hurricane Katrina and how African American locals treated them with disdain.
Solwazi considered it to be “immoral” for a state that had 50-60 percent of its workers unemployed for the person in charge of awarding contracts, to award them to contractors who were bringing workers in from another state. Solwazi said he expects that the Latino community would feel the same way if the roles were reversed.
Solwazi also stated that there was a time when Fresno’s Equal Opportunity Commission (E.O.C) was ran by African Americans but most of those jobs were well integrated. He said, “When black people are in charge of hiring, they will hire blacks, Latinos and White people. But the very moment one of these groups move into a position; the first thing that they do is stack that job with all their folks.”
Gerry Bill is a professor of American Pluralism, a class that examines how America became the multi-cultural society that it is today. His course studies the history of many groups and the psychology of prejudice, hate groups and hate crimes.
Bill stated that the media likes to exploit and exaggerate situations such as the divide between African-Americans and Latinos because it makes a good story from their stand point.
Bill stated, “There are people in the African-American Community who are upset Latinos and there are some people in the Latino Community who are upset with African-Americans, but I would say that it isn’t the majority of either community.”
Bill also spoke about the fears of the people at the top 1-percent.
“If you can keep the people at the bottom fighting with each other, it keeps the people at the top of society in their seats of comfort,” Bill said.
He went on to say, “The thing that they fear the most is the people at the bottom uniting against the people at the top.”