June 24, 2007


The delicate balance of black and brown: Population shifts are threatening to upset political understandings that have kept the lid on racial tension (Harold Meyerson, June 24, 2007, Washington Post)

[L].A.'s black and Latino political elites have tended to avoid conflict more often than not. In the 2005 mayoral election, for example, both groups largely supported the candidacy of Antonio Villaraigosa. Multiracial coalitions have been, if not the norm, at least frequent in city politics — surprisingly frequent. Generally, as once heavily black parts of the city have become plurality or majority Latino, the elites have worked together to limit the possibility of Latino candidates winning elections in districts historically represented by blacks.

So the implications of an Oropeza victory in a longtime black seat may at first glance seem stark. Historically black South L.A. is now sufficiently Latino that, in theory, black political representation could be threatened. In the 2000 Census, Millender-McDonald's district was just 25% black and 43% Latino, though many of those Latinos were not registered voters or American citizens. The Latino population also exceeds the black population in the other two L.A. congressional districts represented by African Americans (Maxine Waters and Diane Watson), though again, many of the Latinos are noncitizens.

In the zero-sum game of electoral politics, that could augur the eventual extinction of L.A.'s black political leadership, not only at the federal level but at the state, county and city levels as well. Such a move could imperil the majority center-left coalition that dominates L.A. politics, and destabilize the city more generally. And because African Americans, like the Irish a century ago, have used political power to attain public sector jobs (a logical response to the employment discrimination they've long encountered in the private sector), any reduction in political clout could also foretell a reduction in economic prospects.

So far, though, no one is playing the zero-sum game.

To Republicans' lasting detriment.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 24, 2007 11:14 AM

And they could have played it above-board, uncynically. But for Limbaugh's treacherous domestic. (Just kidding. Sorta.)

Posted by: ghostcat at June 24, 2007 1:44 PM

Just as women wised up and don't buy NOW propaganda anymore, Blacks and Browns will eventually do the same and ignore their self-proclaimed leaders.

Posted by: erp at June 25, 2007 8:54 AM