Race and Ethnic Conflict: Contending Views on Prejudice, Discrimination, and Ethnoviolence

By Fred L. Pincus; Howard J. Ehrlich | Go to book overview

advised that only when these political and economic resources were available should blacks select allies and enter into coalitions with them based on shared areas of self-interest, clearly defined goals, and a mutual respect for each other's own needs and power. As they put it, "Black Power simply says: enter coalitions only after you are able to 'stand on your own"' ( Carmichael & Hamilton, 1967:188). Although Carmichael and Hamilton were concerned with black-white relations, they implied that the same conclusions apply to other poor racial-ethnic minority groups. Looking to the future, they saw a need for a coalition between poor blacks and poor whites but believed that a lot of education and organization had to be done by black and white leaders in their own communities before such a coalition could emerge and transform American society.

Should separatism in the form proposed by Carmichael and Hamilton be given a high priority in today's struggle against racism, or is the time now ripe for something like the racial-ethnic "Rainbow Coalition" promoted by Jesse Jackson? Multiethnic coalitions are difficult to create or maintain, and evidence suggests that the competition for jobs, political power, and other scarce resources is producing more antagonism and conflict than unity and cooperation among American urban ethnic groups. But if the separatist alternative just means each group gaining control over its own local institutions, the problem may remain, for as Robert Allen ( 1970:33) noted, "black control of black communities will not mean freedom from oppression so long as the black communities themselves are subservient to an outside society which is exploitative." Furthermore, today's minority groups that have made economic progress via an "ethnic enclave" approach (e.g., Cubans in Miami, Koreans in Los Angeles and New York) cannot be used as examples of successful separatism for the simple reason that these groups do not really limit themselves to their own communities in terms of where and with whom they do business; they successfully tap into larger markets than just their own group. The idea of each racial-ethnic group guarding its own turf, relying just on its own internal resources, and putting its own narrow self-interest ahead of everything else seems less like a progressive strategy and more like a throwback to the days when dominant groups used a "divide and conquer" approach to keep racial-ethnic minorities in disadvantaged positions.


CONCLUSION

Finding productive ways to solve the interlocking problems of prejudice, discrimination, and inequality is the most important task facing people who are interested in racial-ethnic relations. [I believe] that most available means of fighting racism have not been adequately evaluated or tested, and those that have need to have their potential and problems widely discussed. We [have] examined four ways in which our whole society might change to produce greater racial-ethnic equity.

Ironically, these four changes seem to consist of two sets of polar opposites. In the first, residential integration and separatism seem to be at odds with each other. Perhaps they could be reconciled in a system that encouraged mixed racialethnic residential living in many parts of the city and suburbs but also encouraged a few areas to remain largely in the hands of a single group. In the other, uni

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