A late book plug, The Latino Challenge to Black America by Earl Ofari Hutchinson

November 2nd, 2007 · 7 Comments

I was contacted by a representative of Earl Ofari Hutchinson, a social critic and activist, about mentioning his latest book, The Latino Challenge to Black America: Towards a Conversation Between African Americans and Hispanics. It is a quick read, but it provides a historical context for some of the obstacles that exist in trying to unify black and brown communities in the struggle for empowerment. There has been some cooperation over the years within both groups, as is evidenced by the Mendez desegregation case (the case that laid the foundation for the Brown decision), communication between MLK and Cesar Chavez, and in the fight to save affirmative action. However, within both communities, one could infer that the average African-American does not know much about the Latino struggle for civil rights in the US and vice versa. Earl Ofari Hutchinson explains that both groups need to understand something about the other’s struggle in order to build a collective conscious and an effective coalition. I asked him a few questions that came to mind as I read the book, and his answers are posted below:

In regards to chapter 5, Reluctant allies in the classroom, I noticed that you don’t touch on higher education. I think that in the higher education realm blacks have achieved more than Latinos have and do an even better job of nurturing their own leadership in the Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Latinos don’t have their own institutions of higher learning, except for National Hispanic University and Boricua College. We do have Hispanic Serving Institutions, which is a designation based on the percentage of Latino enrollment, but many of these colleges have only recently become “HSIs”. In the past few years, more Latinos have been enrolling in the HCBUs, as it referenced in this article:

What role if any do you perceive the black colleges having in exploring our issues, leadership strategies and skills to build more successful coalitions that can transcend from the academy into “the real world?”

I’m not optimistic at least in the short run that Black Colleges will do much in the area of black and Latino relations, not to mention examining leadership and strategies for coalition building.

1. Their focus is almost exclusively on funding, attracting more black and white students, and maintaining a standard teaching curriculum.

2. They are not innovative, cutting edge centers of social and political issues analysis and exploration.

3. Black and Latino relations are still too new, evolving, and controversial.

In terms of coalition building, I think that the Latino leadership can learn from the blacks again. The NAACP is already fighting for the rights of Hispanic citizens in West Virginia regarding racial profiling as local law enforcement teams up with ICE. you see any efforts on behalf of the NAACP or the Urban League to team up with NCLR and its network to expand their advocacy efforts?

No, West Virginia and a handful of other places are still the rare exception. In time,  that may change. But these organizations are still for the most part rooted in the old civil rights (black and white) advocacy and activist mode. How fast that changes, will also depend on the willingness of Latino leaders and organizations to reach out to the traditional civil rights groups on issues from failing public schools to voter empowerment. I haven’t seen that happen to any appreciable extent.

Tags: African-Americans · Books · Education · National Council of La Raza

7 responses so far ↓

  • 1 EYES OF TEXAS // Nov 2, 2007 at 2:40 pm

    The friction between Black and Hispanic communities is greater than any caucasian and _________(fill in) communities. And once again, the problem is not Hispanic citizens, it is illegal aliens. The Black community feels about the same as whites concerning illegal immigration with one very strong exception. The illegal alien may be holding a job that a black citizen could be doing. First and foremost Black-Americans are American citizens that unite with most other citizens of the U.S. when illegal immigration is the topic.

  • 2 Frank // Nov 2, 2007 at 6:19 pm

    When are we going to stop thinking of ourselves in terms of race rather than just Americans?

  • 3 webmaster // Nov 3, 2007 at 11:31 pm

    I think that we will think of ourselves as “just Americans” when we see more diversity in our country’s leadership, Fortune 500 businesses, law enforcement, and neighborhoods of all social classes. Racism has become more subtle and refined in most places since the civil rights movement.

    Maybe you should read some Cornel West or go visit some of the segregated neighborhoods in the nearist big city for some enlightenment.

  • 4 EYES OF TEXAS // Nov 6, 2007 at 9:08 am

    Give the racism issue a few hundred thousand years to work its self out naturally. Through cross breeding of all races, in time everyone will be basically the same race. Until then, sorry, it’s going to be a fact of life. Racism and prejudice is practiced ever within an individual race of people. The light colored Blacks often feel they are better than the darker colored Blacks. Hispanics have different names for different blood lines within their population. Whites are divided basically by nationality and physical characteristics like blue or green eyes thrump brown or black, blondes have more fun than brunettes, slim over fat and tall over short. It may not be racism, but predjudice towards those that are different than ones self is a fact of life that will be with the human race forever. Any person who says they are 100% non-racist is lying to themselves in order to project some sort of superiority over everyone else. In our diverse world we have had to suppress a lot of our feelings towards others in order to preserve a peaceful existance.

  • 5 Frank // Nov 7, 2007 at 6:46 am

    The one thing I don’t think will happen even with cross breeding is people giving up their individual cultures, languages and religions. That is where the prejudices lay. It isn’t about skin color anymore but these things instead. Diversity in congress or neighborhoods, etc. isn’t going to change that. I think the more diversified we become in that way, the more we will see chaos and resentment. We will be like a lost ship at sea with no real identity as a country.

  • 6 EYES OF TEXAS // Nov 7, 2007 at 9:58 am

    As long as one individual has differences from another individual, including culture, language, and religion there will be prejudices. There will always be one group of society that is perceived to be dominant over all others, even if they are the minority. Even with no influence from outside sources, our culture, language and religions evolve slowly and change. When these things change too fast by having different ones undesirably forced upon us that it becomes intolerable and unacceptable.

  • 7 Lizzie // Feb 18, 2008 at 1:16 pm

    Thank you Webmaster>> Frank consistently asks that question, but there turn around and call African Americans a group on the “decline and in a state of crisis”. The nerve.

Leave a Comment