Toward a Black and Brown Political Coalition (FCN, 12-28-2007)

WASHINGTON ( – The land of the free and home of the brave has become a melting pot of racial tensions stirred daily by an American lifestyle that includes isolation between ethnic groups that would be better served by working together, according to the results of a poll taken by the New American Media.

“This extraordinary poll reveals some unflattering realities that exist in America today,” said Sandy Close, NAM executive director.“The sponsors of the poll strongly believe the best way to move forward is by identifying the problems and initiating a dialogue that can bring ethnic groups closer together in their fight for equality and against discrimination.” New American Media is a coalition of ethnic media outlets from across the country.


The poll, “Deep Divisions: Shared Destiny,” was a survey of 1,105 Blacks, Hispanics and Asians.Ninety percent of the Blacks surveyed were U.S.-born, while more than half of the Hispanics and 80 percent of the Asians were foreign-born. Asians had substantially higher incomes and almost half had a college degree, while less than one fifth of Hispanics and Blacks had degrees.

Each group considered racial tensions to be an important problem in the United States. Other poll results found tension between the groups, despite consensus that things would be better if they worked together; a wide disparity between Latino and Asian belief that working hard would result in achievement of the American dream and Black belief that things were not that easy; all three racial groups had more faith in doing business with Whites than one another; but poll respondents among the three racial groups were hopeful that inter-group relations would improve over the next decade.

Media stereotypes or media realities?

In almost every city you can turn on the TV and see someone Black committing a crime.It’s no surprise that the poll found 44 percent of Hispanics and 47 percent of Asians are “generally afraid of African Americans because they are responsible for most of the crime.”

“The truth is Europeans (Whites) do most of the crime, but that’s not what’s reported.What we see on TV is who’s targeted and who’s prosecuted.We see who gets locked up versus who is doing most of the crime,” said Abu Bakr Kareem a justice reform advocate in Atlanta.

According to the poll Blacks, overwhelmingly believe the criminal justice system favors the rich and powerful, while most Hispanics and an even larger majority of Asians disagree.

Sergio Bendixen, an expert on Hispanic and multilingual polling, conducted the poll.“The poll reaffirms that while race relations between ethnic groups and Whites grab the headlines, there are also serious racial problems between minority groups in America,” he said.

“Blacks feel they are left out of the American Dream and are being displaced by newcomers and each group buys into the negative stereotypes about the other two.”

The American Dream has been hard to achieve for many Blacks, which was reflected in some responses to poll questions. “For Blacks if you are not happy at home, it’s difficult to be nice to neighbors who just got here especially if you think they’re getting privileges,” said Mr. Bendixen.

Conflict and competition

Richard Rodriguez, a west coast author who spoke at the Dec. 12 press conference announcing the results of the poll, discussed the unnecessary competition America foments between Blacks and Hispanics.

“Hispanics have accepted the false flattery from the census that Hispanics will replace Blacks as the largest minority.This created a false reality to create competition between Blacks and Hispanics.Hispanic leadership has been silent about this,” said Mr. Rodriguez. “They’ve tended to go along with this numerical ascendancy.”

The real question according to Mr. Rodriguez is, “Who is White in America?There is a danger lurking that Hispanics will choose to advance on the backs of Blacks.”

He argued that American society focuses on bloodlines, and Latinos do not necessarily see themselves in terms of strict racial identities. “We are not a racial population.We are cultural.Hispanics are a mix of Africa, Latin American and more,” said Mr. Rodriguez.

Each ethnic group had a problem with the other groups–ranging from fear of Blacks, to mistrust of Asian business owners, to being envious of Hispanics who are thought to be taking away jobs, housing and political power from the Black community.

The poll found that 61 percent of Hispanics, 54 percent of Asians and 47 percent of Blacks would rather do business with Whites than members of the other two groups.

There were also some common beliefs. One was that mainstream media didn’t do a good job of covering race. When it came to covering issues of racial tension, 63 percent of Blacks, 43 percent of Latinos and 30 percent of Asians felt mainstream media coverage was irresponsible.

Poll respondents also shared a strongly held belief that they should put aside their differences to work together on issues that affect their communities, are confident racial relations will improve in the next 10 years and were convinced that America would be a better country if more people from ethnic groups were in positions of authority.