DARE TO ASK: U.S. blacks more tolerant of Hispanic
By PHILLIP MILANO, The Times-Union
How do African-Americans feel about all the Hispanics coming into the United
Lindsay, 19, North Carolina
I don't care who is coming to this country. At some point, we all had to
migrate here or be brought or sent here.
Tanaira, 16, Baltimore
We don't have a problem as long as the following criteria are met: Please
check in at the door. Please understand the economics here. There have to be
enough jobs, food and social services to go around. Please understand you aren't
the only people immigrating here. I don't understand why Mexicans feel they
deserve special treatment over all other peoples. Please don't blow the Mexican
flag in our face and expect us to accept this. And please drop the "You have it,
we don't, so just give it to us" mentality.
C., black male, Michigan
I don't have a problem with Hispanic immigrants . . . but I, like most
Americans, believe illegal aliens regardless of nationality don't belong here. I
don't understand why they have rights in the first place.
Peter, black, Jacksonville
I feel fine with it. A few of my friends are Hispanic, and I love 'em to
Lakeisha, 17, black, Virginia
U.S. blacks view immigration slightly more favorably than whites do (2007
Gallup poll). The percentage of blacks who feel undocumented immigrants should
receive social services is twice that of whites, and black people in general
strongly believe immigrants are hard-working with solid family values (2006 Pew
However, just to be complex, the Pew Center also found that a higher
percentage of blacks say they or a family member lost a job or didn't get one
because of an immigrant, and that blacks more often feel immigrants take jobs
from U.S. citizens.
"You do see concerns that the political and economic agenda of
African-Americans will be left behind, and you do see some anti-Latino
stereotyping . . . though that is not different from the general public," said
Eric Ward, national field director for the Center for New Community in Chicago,
which tracks anti-immigrant activity.
"It doesn't help black America to blame immigrants. . . . When people are
arming themselves, patrolling streets and challenging people for proof of
citizenship, that should send a chill into everyone."
While there are regional examples of job competition with immigrants - meat
and poultry processing in the South, for example - overall, many jobs once
thought of as "black jobs" in manufacturing or service sectors have already been
off-shored, Ward noted.
"There's a misconception that we've [blacks] been put in a race with Latinos
for the economic bottom . . . and that has limited the conversation on the idea
that every job should be a living-wage job in society."
More African-Americans are seeing that being anti-immigration is not useful,
he said, and that "every good movement for justice lifts up everyone."
Phillip Milano, author of I Can't Believe You Asked That! (Perigee),
moderates cross-cultural dialogue at Y? The National Forum on People's
Differences. Visit www.yforum.com to submit questions and answers. Send general
column comments to phillip. email@example.com. You can also hear his
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