January 29, 2015

DIVIDE AND CONQUER:

The Barriers to Black-Brown Unity (SALIM MUWAKKIL, 1/29/15, In These Times)

[I]n the 32 years since Washington's election, relations between the city's two largest minority groups have soured.

The first rifts appeared soon after Washington's death in 1987. When the black base split over which alderman should succeed Washington, Latino supporters were set adrift, and the remnants of the city's infamous Democratic Machine exploited that uncertainty. After Richard M. Daley defeated Washington's placeholder successor, Eugene Sawyer, the Daley administration kept the black-brown coalition off balance by pitting the gains of one group against the other--replacing black officials with Latinos, for instance--in order to forestall the unity necessary for any serious Daley challenger.

That is not to say that there aren't organic differences between the two groups. As a long-time observer of these black-brown coalition attempts, I've seen a number of factors hamper them. Most glaring are the language differences and distinct historical experiences. The legacy of conquest and colonialism in Latin America is considerably different than that of U.S. slavery and Jim Crow, and there are too few attempts to familiarize each group with the other's history. Latinos are also more culturally diverse than black Americans. And some African Americans resent Latinos for enjoying the gains of the Civil Rights Act without having invested as much effort in the movement.

In the face of all this, few political campaigns in the United States (except for high-stakes presidential races) have successfully brought the two groups together. 

The GOP should exploit this animosity nationally and fold brown into red.

Posted by at January 29, 2015 6:29 PM
  

blog comments powered by Disqus
« OF THE BASE, NOT BELTWAY: | Main | NO ONE HAS IT HARDER THAN THEIR FATHER DID: »