Response # 4

AnnMarie Mark

 

Professor Alvarez

 

English 255

 

2 May 2012

 

The Color Line:  Identifying as One to Attain a Common Goal in
George Priestley’s “Ethnicity, Class, and Race in the United States: Prospects
for African-American/Latino Alliances.”

Unity of Two Cultures

     George Priestley’s article entitled “Ethnicity, Class, and Race in the United States: Prospects for African-American/Latino Alliances” discusses the formation and potential of Latinos/ Blacks in America to join forces to fight for the same causes.  The white race prevails over all ethnic groups in America politically, socially and economically.  African-American’s and Latinos frequently deal with unemployment, underemployment, living in an unsafe environment, lack of education, unable to attain healthcare, and high population in the prison system.  The American society reflects a divided society that consists of rich and poor along with the advantages of the “white race”.  Blacks and Latinos both strive for upward mobility, for this reason an alliance creates a commonality and unity along with achievement of major economic, political, and social issues within America.  Priestly states:

 

The current challenges of both groups are the product of race, class, and gender relations of the post-civil-rights era, a period characterized by massive immigration of nonwhite people […] If economic competition and immigration issues have the potential of dividing Latinos and African-Americans, these groups have a strategic list of demands that unites them. (Priestly 56)

 

Priestly believes that “race, class, and gender” play major roles in both minority groups.  In America today, slavery no longer exists, but “The Color Line” an article which Frederick Douglas published in 1881 detailing racial segregation still exists to a certain extent in America.  The “Color Line” suggests racial
discrimination because of the color/race of a person.  Latinos and African Americans have both equally dealt with inequality in America prior to and after the “civil rights era”; an era that struggled to attain civil rights for African-Americans along with other groups.  Latinos represent a multi-cultural and multi ethnic group of people and a “color line” exists within their community as well because of the diverse backgrounds and races that incorporate the group.  As immigration increases from Latin America, Latinos and Blacks both struggle to achieve civil, economic and social stability.  Priestly believes that instead of competition between the two groups, there is catalog of “demands that unite them”.  They both require access to health care, education, jobs, affordable housing, reliable and affordable transportation, and accountability from the police (56).  Together they can be successful in accomplishing these demands.  But, the groups will both have to be willing to identify with each other as one equal fighting for a common cause.

Acknowledging each other’s struggles

     Ideally, a coalition of the African Americans and Latinos sounds like a sensible plan because both groups are minorities.  But, most Latinos do not usually classify themselves with Blacks/African Americans.  Among the Dominican, Puerto Rican, Panamanian, Honduran, Colombian, and Brazilian communities there is a tendency to “relate culturally to their “blackness” and have adapted the term Afro-Latino (57).   But, many other Latinos classify themselves with whites which opens the door for Latinos to create associations and unions with whites as well.  But, whites do not represent minorities and they do not understand the struggles that inherently burden Latinos/African Americans.  Priestly acknowledges that specifications for a coalition or alliance must happen in order to acquire a
strong coalition and he also sheds light on remarks made by Flores (2005, 81) which states:

 

 

Hispanic is not a construct that is decidedly non-black and in significant ways discursively anti-Black […] While there is a “non-Hispanic white” category in the census, there is no category of “non-Hispanic black.”  Clearly, the construction of a “white Latino identity” is not the same as a “non-black Latino identity,” and the way Latinos construct their identity will bear significantly on any future coalition with African-Americans. (60)

 

Latinos and African Americans call for the same equality each facing social struggles and injustices throughout history in America.  Latinos would need
to “construct their identity” in relation to African-Americans and see the bigger picture that will come with a strong coalition for the two groups.  Latinos who identify as “white Latino” would probably choose to disassociate themselves with the coalition because of possibly not experiencing or understanding the struggles which are faced daily by the “non-white” Latino.  The superiority complex does exist and it goes right back to the “color line” that exists in America, and will probably always exist.  African Americans would need to recognize issues of immigration and support progressive immigration reform.  The idea of a successful coalition will involve both groups to identify with each other and recognize that each are both demoralized because of the social structures that dwell within the nation.  Both groups must rid themselves of the “color line” and strive for success as minorities with a shared goal that will lead to an effective and lasting coalition.

 

 

 

Works Cited

Priestley, George. “Ethnicity, Class, and Race in the United States: Prospects for African-American/Latino Alliances.” Latin American Perspectives 34.1, The Crisis of U.S. Hegemony in the Twenty-First Century (Jan 2007): 53-63. JSTOR. Web. 1 May 2012.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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