The images of protests and rallies in support of amnesty for illegal immigrants that beamed into the homes of millions of people clearly articulated the message that Latino’s are here and they are not going anywhere.
At the same time, those same images told Americans that by and large, the movement for immigrants rights’ belonged to, was headed by, and was for the benefit of Latinos only.
Having been deemed the majority minority in America by the U.S. Census, Latino’s have elevated their political clout and profile within the last few weeks simply by wielding their massive numbers.
Even though many Latino immigrant rights’ activist cite the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement as the blueprint for their movement, they are still slow to incorporate and include immigrants of other ethnicities or African Americans.
While there have been a small number of well-intentioned meetings between Black leaders and immigrant rights’ support, there has not been a concerted effort to reach out to Blacks.
One reason for the lack of “coalition building” between Blacks and Latinos could be that Blacks simply are not needed or wanted in their movement.
Coalitions are often built when groups of people who share a common mission and vision and realize that together they are stronger than alone. Unlike the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement where Blacks were not the majority in the U.S. and it was not only necessary but also crucial to build coalitions, Latinos have their substantial numbers working on behalf of them so much so that they don’t really need to include other races in their movement. Doing so would be nothing more than a symbolic gesture.
At the end of the day, Latino’s living in border state communities do not have to “assimilate” into society. Throughout the years, “Spanish only” enclaves have thrived and grown to the point that without knowing any English at all, many Latino’s are able to conduct their daily routines without any problems at all and without ever having to interface with Blacks. Moreover, even though the U.S. Senate approved amendments designating English as the “national language” and the “common, unifying language” of the United States, chances are it isn’t going to encourage those immigrants who have been here for years to all of a sudden decide to learn English.
And why should they?
Speaking Spanish has practically become a perquisite for employment in many states, much to the chagrin of American English speaking workers, which most certainly includes Blacks.
Add to that, many ads for housing rentals are advertised as “Se Renta,” letting you know exactly who should and should not apply.
It’s a hard pill to swallow but Blacks are not viable to the Latino movement, in fact it’s probably the other way around in that Blacks are going to need Latinos.
As third and fourth generation Latino’s head to the polls and begin to wield their political power, states like California, will see city, state, and federal seats held traditionally held by Blacks go to Latinos. Districts that were once labeled as “Black” will be a thing of the past as Blacks become a shrinking minority.
Yes, Republicans, Democrats, and corporations will be courting the Latinos like never before while Blacks will be the recipients of fewer dollars to back voter registration drives and less attention will be paid to public policy issues that are important to Blacks like affirmative action.
While Latinos may feel that Blacks aren’t needed in their movement, they also have to be mindful that Blacks aren’t going anywhere either and that the two races will continue to live side by side. And while Latinos are quickly on their way to becoming the most powerful minority in the country, with that comes the responsibility of acknowledging the rich history and contributions of Blacks to America who paved the way and provided the litmus test for the many rallies, marches and protests and that spear headed this newfound Latino power.
If any lasting relationships between Blacks and Latinos are going to made, Latinos need to respect Blacks and make visible and concerted efforts to reach out to Blacks and not just on immigrant rights issues but on issues that are important to Blacks as well and not buy into identity politics.