Racism in America often has been reduced to white against black discrimination, and understandably so. After all, it was white colonists who forcibly removed Africans from their homeland and brought them to America to slave away on plantations.
Following the American Civil War and the end of slavery in America, this country continued to struggle with racism. It took the dedication of Martin Luther King and a movement of civil rights activism to further erode the division among us.
Even still today, racial tension persists, most recently seen in the shooting of Trayvon Martin and the events that followed.
But another kind of racism has emerged, unreported by the mainstream media. I’m talking about Hispanic racism against African Americans.
As Latin American immigrants continue to flood the United States, both legally and illegally, discrimination against African Americans grows.
In 2011, a large Latino gang located in East Los Angeles was indicted for attempting to forcibly remove an African American neighborhood from the San Gabriel Valley. For 15 years, this gang led a campaign of attacks and fire bombings on African American families living in the town.
Unfortunately, incidents like this are all too common in Los Angeles and in other major U.S. cities.
In Compton, California, the Los Angeles police department recently expressed concern over the number of attacks on African American families by Latino gangs within the past decade.
Speaking to one particular incident, the Los Angeles Times reported, “A black family — a mother, three teenage children, and a 10-year-old boy — moved into a little yellow home in Compton over Christmas vacation. When a friend came to visit, four men in a black SUV pulled up and called him a racist epithet, saying black people were barred from the neighborhood, according to Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies. They jumped out, drew a gun on him and beat him with metal pipes. It was just the beginning of what detectives said was a campaign by a Latino street gang to force an African American family to leave.”
Many Latin American immigrants come from countries where racism has recently been, or has yet to be, de-institutionalized. In Latin America, according to Tanya Hernandez, professor of law at Fordham University, “both law and practice have discriminated against the region’s (Latin America) 150 million Afro-descendants.”
In Cuba, Afro-Cuban activists claim blacks are discriminated from certain jobs, particularly managerial positions, have poor access to healthcare, and are relegated to poor housing.
In Colombia, as of 2009, 288,000 Afro-Colombians have been forcibly removed from their communities as civil unrest continues to plague the country.
Many countries in Latin America only recently have begun to fight back against the racism within their borders. Colombia passed a comprehensive anti-discrimination law as recently as 2011. Brazil passed an affirmative action bill only two years ago.
But as Americans know all too well, racism doesn’t disappear overnight from the hearts and minds of individuals. Dismantling racism necessitates a generational transformation, and then some.
This transformation has yet to happen in many Hispanics. A Duke University study in 2006 reported 60 percent of Hispanic respondents felt that few or almost no blacks were hard-working or could be trusted.
In light of the ongoing reality of Hispanic racism against blacks, Congress should be very careful when addressing immigration reform. The rule of law must be kept. Latin American immigrants who come here lawfully must leave their native country’s racial prejudices behind and live peacefully with American citizens of every color.
We are a nation of laws. The rights and dignity of all Americans must be guarded against and protected. Anything less is unacceptable.
Armstrong Williams is the author of “Reawakening Virtues.” He is a political commentator who writes a conservative newspaper column, hosts a nationally syndicated TV program called “The Right Side,” and hosts a daily radio show on Sirius/XM Power 128 (6-7 p.m. and 5-6 a.m.) Monday through Friday. Read more reports from Armstrong Williams — Click Here Now.
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