Academic journal article Harvard Journal of Hispanic Policy

Inter-Group Affairs in the United States: Tatcho Mindiola, Jr., Yolanda Flores Niemann, and Nestor Rodriguez's Black-Brown Relations and Stereotypes

Academic journal article Harvard Journal of Hispanic Policy

Inter-Group Affairs in the United States: Tatcho Mindiola, Jr., Yolanda Flores Niemann, and Nestor Rodriguez's Black-Brown Relations and Stereotypes

Article excerpt

(University of Texas Press 2002)

The volume Black-Brown Relations and Stereotypes offers six compelling case studies that corroborate past research on group race relations as well as comparative ethnic relations. In important and interesting respects, the book directs our attention to minority-minority relations and to the future of Black-Brown affairs in the 21st century (31, 33, 35). Through concise, detailed chapters, the authors take up "a systematic comparison of attitudinal and behavioral trends" of Black-Brown interaction and stereotypes in the country, particularly by looking at U.S. Hispanic, foreign-born Hispanic (mainly Mexican, Salvadoran, and Colombian), and African American groups in Houston, TX (5).

The book explores the tensions that transpired throughout the 20th century and that continue to inform the future of social relations among Hispanics, African Americans, and Whites. It amply surveys their histories of contact, struggle, and negotiation, particularly around the Mexico-U.S. border. The sociologists not only evaluate these interactions, but they also draw attention to the history of immigrant labor and the increasingly expanding population of Hispanics. They detail the various multifaceted sociodemographic "changes and their implications for Black-Brown relations" (xi). The authors insightfully demonstrate how the conflicts that have occurred among the groups have varied "according to the specific situation and locale and according to whether interaction is at the group or individual level" (xii, 22-23, 28-29, 113-114). Rather than collapse each of the groups into unproblematic categories and labels, the authors call attention to the diversity and range of goals, understandings, and perceptions among the various groups and communities. They describe the contradictions, analyze the commonalities, and untangle the relevant differences. On the whole, the studies offer penetrating and useful investigations of the ways groups sustain stereotypes, how cultures and caregivers shape their children's attitudes, the media's role in generating fear of immigrants and ethno-racial groups, and how other social institutions are utterly complicitous in maintaining prejudices. Although the researchers find that women are central to the inculcation of stereotypes, the researchers clarify how the process of learning and understanding is shaped by a web of institutions and practices within the larger cultural, social, and political context (82-93).

Through a complex, sociocultural, sociohistoric, and sociopolitical approach that is sensitive to differences, Mindiola, Flores Niemann, and Rodriguez give ample consideration to both national and individual concerns. They attend to both dimensions in their "research-and theory-based solutions" (40). The organizing lenses through which they analyze Black-Brown relations and stereotypes include the thorough investigation of demographic dimensions between the groups, as well as in-group and inter-group perceptions and attitudes (xii-xiii). …

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