Zachary Greenhoward watched the hundreds of peaceful, African-American and Latino protesters unites, who faced the tense riot policemen.
The cops were mostly Latino.
African-American and Latino together for a better future
“We’re all brunette lives. There’s no reason to be scared of being right in front of them, of looking them in the eye”
Said Greenhoward, 21 years old, who is African-American. On this recent day, he, like many others across the country, demonstrated to condemn racism. And also to spread a message about the unity of African Americans and Latinos. “We’re not the enemy here.”
In addition to calls for fundamental legal reform, political scientists and community activists claim that George Floyd’s horrific and violent death about 800 miles away in Minneapolis opens up a great opportunity for African-American and Latino communities to unite in an election year to make changes.
Many see this as a fundamental moment in history, an opportunity for the new generations of the nation’s two largest and most powerful minorities to heal old wounds and forge alliances.
It is a difficult task
Is hard to find a united voice that jointly continues the legacy of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and Union leader of Agricultural Workers, César Chavez. In the past, building partnerships African Americans and Latinos together has turned out to be anything but easy, experts say.
“There have been divisions; people competing for positions or symperiding for political power that curbed those coalitions,” said Domingo Garcia, a Dallas resident, president of the League of United Latin American Citizens, LULAC, the nation’s oldest Latino civil rights group.
“We’re seeing that these divisions have been left along the way as literally thousands of Latinos join African-Americans marching across the United States,” Garcia said in a phone interview this week as he was traveling back home to Dallas after attending Floyd’s Houston funeral. “We’re at a turning point.”
On key issues, both groups have long had key differences. A 2008 study by the Pew Research Center considered a benchmark on these issues showed that both groups were divided into issues ranging from immigration to overall progress on racial discrimination.
But Richard Pineda, director of the Sam Donaldson Center at the University of Texas at El Paso, is among many analysts who indicate that the differences are modest, very often “overly exaggerated” and exploited by white nationalist rhetoric to “confront African Americans against Latinos.”
“We literally lack the words to be able to explain the impact and difference between the political and economic agendas of Latinos and African-Americans”
Pineda said, “It’s easy to fall into the trap of how race is described to us.” Pineda and others believe that this moment creates an opportunity for a new generation to conduct the conversation and “make sure people actually sign up and vote. We have to try.”
Hispanics are way behind African-Americans in terms of voter turnout. In the 2016 election, only 12 percent of eligible Latino voters voted. And when it comes to their political views, Latinos are far from monolithic.
Participation among African Americans, however, was nearly 60 percent in the most recent presidential election. African-Americans, a critical force of the Democratic Party, supported President Barack Obama in 2012 by 93 percent.
Bringing the two groups together on a united front would create a powerful force. And experts point out that they also have a lot in common, including the fact that many are on the front line of the U.S. workforce, often occupying underpaid but essential jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Candidates from both parties trying to build on the support of Latinos and African-Americans this year will be hampered by the virus, which limits the registration of voters door-to-door and public events, El Paso’s Democratic representative Veronica Escobar said. But she sees potential in the energy of young voters.
“We have to live up to the moment,” he said. “And we have to think about each of these young people, their hopes, their expectations and their disappointment. And we don’t want to let them down.”
Escobar walked the Edmund Pettus Bridge last year with U.S. Rep. John Lewis, Georgia’s iconic civil rights leader, to commemorate the 1965 marches in Alabama, in which nonviolent activists were beaten by state police as they walked from Montgomery to Selma in defiance of segregationist laws.
This historic march, led by King, accompanied by supporters of all creeds and colors, contributed to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, an important victory for the civil rights movement.
Escobar was deeply moved by the solemn commemorations of 2019. He later moderated a panel on President Donald Trump’s immigration policies at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. These policies included separating children from their immigrant parents while in U.S. custody.
Lewis, who was one of the panelists, stood up and said
“We did it to my ancestors, and we’re doing it to your people. We’re separating the parents from their children.”
Escobar noted that “he recognized our pain as well, and saw in no way that his one diminished. He sought unity in the pain we were all feeling. It was so, so deep and inspiring for the moment we live in today.”
Protests, meanwhile, have spread around the world, including Mexico City and Guadalajara. In Dallas and El Paso, many Latinos expressed solidarity with outrage at Floyd’s murder, noting that too often they face injustices from police and other federal authorities.
In Dallas, Leslie Tapia, 23, has been attending protests in solidarity with the cause of “Black Lives Matter” because they are with us in difficult times” for Hispanics.
Hector Andrés Maldonado, 24, an environmentalist, agrees. “We’re supporting them, but at the same time we’re claiming our rights too,” he said.
In El Paso, Veronica Carvajal, a Democratic mayoral candidate, was stunned by the sea of law enforcement officers in a recent protest.
“We have de-down employees who can’t pay their bills because they’re not considered essential, parks closed” and community centers because of budget cuts,” he said. He then targeted helicopters and dozens of state and local police with riot gear. “And now this?”
El Paso, a working-class city where most residents are either immigrants or children of immigrants, has been the target of Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies, as well as racial violence.
Leaders such as Catholic Bishop Mark Seitz have been at the forefront of denouncing Trump’s policies, such as building a border wall and family separations. Seitz was also a leader in the denunciation of racism following the mass murder of 23 people last August.
Confessed attacker Patrick Crusius, originally from Allen, entered a Walmart in El Paso and fatally shot 23 people and wounded dozens more. The white attacker, who pleaded not guilty despite his confession and is awaiting trial, told police he came to kill Mexicans.
This week, Pope Francis personally called Seitz and thanked him for making a silent prayer in memory of Floyd.
“He is expressing his unity with all who are willing to go out and say, ‘This has to change. This shouldn’t happen again,’ Seitz said.
Nearly four percent of El Paso’s population is African-American. Hispanics make up more than 83 percent, but their political and economic power has not reflected that majority.
El Paso resident Ron Stall worth is a retired police detective who infiltrated David Duke’s KKK, and wrote the bestseller “BlacKkKlansman”. The book later became an Oscar-nominated film under the direction of Spike Lee.
As a Chicago native raised in El Paso and married to a Mexican-American, Stall worth said Latinos and African-Americans need to “stop fighting” and stressed that “they can’t form this union for a moment like this (and) in six weeks (let everything) fade after the music stops. It has to be an ongoing effort.”
— Cristian Crosse (@CristianCrosse2) June 1, 2020
Over the years, El Paso, with a large military population, has earned a reputation for being inclusive for African Americans. It is home to the first basketball team of all-African-American beginners. The Texas Western team at the University of Texas at El Paso won the NCAA championship in 1966.
El Paso is also awarded to Aaron Jones, the star runner of the Green Bay Packers, and to the feeling of Khalid singing as sons of the city. Khalid’s song “Sun city”, performed in Spanish and English, is a tribute to the city.
But Greenhoward says the city can also be insensitive. He is now a student at New Mexico State University after graduating from high school in El Paso, and claims that he “hates” that many of his friends use the “word with N” because it’s “a fashionable word” to refer to him.
“They never understand the pain and anger we feel” He said.qwdrassssss