Magazine article The Crisis

Beyond Black and White

Magazine article The Crisis

Beyond Black and White

Article excerpt

Ninety-four years ago when this magazine was founded, race relations were Black and White. A century later, the United States is growing increasingly Brown. Last year, the U.S. Census Bureau announced that for the first time in this country's history, the Black population has been surpassed by Hispanics as the nation's largest minority. According to the latest figures from the Census, Latinos number 38.8 million and Blacks 36.7 million.

Last summer, at the National Association of Black Journalists convention in Dallas, Lori Robinson and I discussed this historic growth in the Latino population. Robinson, who reports frequently on Black-Latino issues, wondered what, if anything, it might mean in relation to the Black population. Would the two communities forge alliances and work together in the pursuit of opportunities and justice? Or would it force a wedge between the two groups, whose local and national cooperation over the years has been inconsistent?

We've put together an editorial package that attempts to answer these questions. Our cover story, which Robinson co-wrote with Paul Cuadros and Alysia Tate, examines Black-Latino relations - in terms of economics, politics and culture - in each region of the country.

There's a difference of opinion about whether Blacks and Latinos should unite. Nicolas C. Vaca, the author of The Presumed Alliance: The Unspoken Conflict Between Latinos and Blacks and What it Means for America, says, "The idea that somehow we're bonded, we're united, is the reason I wrote the book. I think it's not true."

Carlos Munoz Jr., however, disagrees. "Of course there are differences in terms of history and culture, but we do share a lot more than we don't," says Munoz, a professor emeritus of ethnic studies at the University of California at Berkeley. "We don't have the luxury anymore of continuing to wage struggle without coalition-building. …

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