Black-Brown Relations and Stereotypes

Black-Brown Relations and Stereotypes

Black-Brown Relations and Stereotypes

Black-Brown Relations and Stereotypes

Synopsis

Race relations in twenty-first-century America will not be just a black-and-white issue. The 2000 census revealed that Hispanics already slightly outnumber African Americans as the largest ethnic group, while together Blacks and Hispanics constitute the majority population in the five largest U.S. cities. Given these facts, black-brown relations could be a more significant racial issue in the decades to come than relations between minority groups and Whites. Offering some of the first in-depth analyses of how African Americans and Hispanics perceive and interact with each other, this pathfinding study looks at black-brown relations in Houston, Texas, one of the largest U.S. cities with a majority ethnic population and one in which Hispanics outnumber African Americans. Drawing on the results of several sociological studies, the authors focus on four key issues: how each group forms and maintains stereotypes of the other, areas in which the two groups conflict and disagree, the crucial role of women in shaping their communities' racial attitudes, and areas in which Hispanics and African Americans agree and can cooperate to achieve greater political power and social justice.

Excerpt

The 2000 U.S. Census documented what those who live in urban areas across the United States already know—that the color of America is rapidly changing. One of the most significant forces underlying this change is the dramatic increase in the country’s immigrant population, especially Hispanics, over the past three decades, coupled with a moderate increase in the African American population and a much slower increase in the White population.

In the past decade, newspapers and other media predicted that Hispanics would soon become the nation’s largest minority group. A prevalent message seemed to be that African American issues would be replaced by those of Hispanics once the latter became the nation’s largest minority. Of course, this has not occurred: even as Hispanics have begun to surpass African Americans in numbers, African Americans and their issues remain very much in front of the public. We felt that the constant media attention has contributed to tension between the two groups. In several regions of the United States, this tension is already evident: Hispanics are the majority in some school districts; and African Americans and Hispanics vie for political offices previously occupied by Whites. The tension seems to be exacerbated by the growing numbers of Hispanic immigrants, most of whom have little direct knowledge of or contact with African Americans. As our students and members of the media questioned us about these demographic changes and their implications for Black-Brown relations, we turned to the social science literature for answers.

We found, however, that the study of race relations in the United States is dominated by concern with Black-White relations and that the literature on minority-minority relations, especially Black-Brown relations, is scant at best. We believe that relations among peoples of color will be a central concern in the twenty-first century. We also believe that because African Americans and Hispanics are the two largest racialethnic groups and live in proximity in urban areas, they are destined . . .

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