Take a fresh look at your lifestyle.

- Advertisement -

Analysis | Latino leaders could work with black communities. Why not?

This week, a recording of Latino Los Angeles city councilors making racist remarks hit the headlines. But Latino anti-black racism is not new or surprising. A number of scholars have explored the conflict between these two groups, including Efren Perez and colleagues, here at The Monkey Cage.

Blacks and Latinos are more likely to move to neighborhoods dominated by the other group than to predominantly white neighborhoods, meaning they have mostly social and political interactions. But our research shows that the relationship between black and Latino is complicated by the fact that these two communities think about racial solidarity in fundamentally different ways. Here’s what that means for collaboration.

Don’t miss any smart analysis from TMC! Sign up for our newsletter.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Black and Brown communities collaborated in Los Angeles politics.

The black and Latino communities appeared to participate in political solidarity in the 1960s and 1970s, with a wave of civil rights protests in the United States. In Los Angeles, the Chicano movement borrowed many tactics from the Black Panther party. A group calling itself the Brown Berets sponsored strikes in East Los Angeles to protest police brutality, advocate for better housing and education, and protest the US war in Vietnam.

As with so much activism from that period, this faded away in the 1990s. Latino populations in places like Los Angeles outnumbered the black population, leading scholars and other observers began discussing conflict and competition between the groups.

Many scientists and political observers have assumed that these groups compete for a limited number of resources — one group or the other getting more or less of, say, jobs and political power. For example, as apparently happened in the Los Angeles Offensive Conversation, discussions of reclassification often turn into debates about whether one or the other community will have more or less influence in choosing a particular district’s potential representative.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. The two groups could instead work to build solidarity in order to gain power for both. However, to achieve that, groups need to think about how their marginalization is similar, different and sometimes related to the oppression of others. We found that Latino people are less likely to perceive systemic oppression in general.

How Black and Latinos fared in this latest round of reclassification

To examine whether these communities feel the same way about solidarity, we analyzed data from the 2020 Collaborative Multiracial Post-Election Survey – which includes large, randomly selected national samples of both black and Latino respondents, totaling 4,071 and 3,529, respectively – to better understand the dynamics between these two groups. This online survey was conducted between April 2, 2021 and August 25, 2021. The survey was available to respondents in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Arabic, Urdu, Farsi, and Haitian Creole. The complete data is weighted within each racial group for age, sex, education, birth and ancestry.

A survey question read, “When it comes to the police’s treatment of black people and the treatment of Latino immigrants by immigration officers, what comes closest to your opinion?”

Why do prominent Los Angeles Latinos say such racist things?

Blacks more often than Latinos see racism as systemic

We find that black respondents are significantly more likely to say that both black and Latino communities experience racially biased discrimination. Latino respondents are even 10 percentage points more likely than black respondents to say that neither the treatment of blacks by police nor the treatment of Latinos by immigration officials is racially biased.

Many of our Latino respondents do not believe in the existence of systemic racism in the United States. Some believe their individual efforts will be rewarded regardless of race, while others liken their newfound experience to the turmoil at home.

We also asked whether respondents agreed or disagreed with the statement “Racial problems in the US are rare, isolated situations.” We found a gap of more than 10 percentage points between the two groups: 77 percent of black respondents disagreed, but only 65 percent of Latinos. In other words, more black Americans see racism as systemic.

Furthermore, we found that belief in systemic racism in the United States is the strongest predictor of solidarity between these two communities. Our research shows that Latino people who disagree with the idea that racial problems are rare are more likely to believe in isolated situations that the treatment of both black and Latino people is racially biased.

Of course, some groups may still prefer to devise strategies on how to gain more political power for their own communities than to work on building coalitions between communities. However, the racist discussion between LA councilors and allies was not about building resources; rather it expressed senseless racism. The comments suggest what we found in our data: Without a sense of shared destiny in tackling systemic problems, communities are likely to compete rather than collaborate.

Professors, check out TMC’s new and improved classroom themed guides.

Chaya Crowder (@ChayaCrowder) is an assistant professor in the political science and international relations department at Loyola Marymount University, where her research focuses on the intersection of race, gender, and American political behavior.

Claudia Sandoval is an assistant professor in the political science and international relations department at Loyola Marymount University, where her research focuses on black/Latino relations, immigration, and Latino politics.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.