Do Latinos Know We’re ‘Brothers and Sisters?’

Gregory P. Kane, Black America Web, May 6, 2010

Why is the Rev. Al Sharpton butting his nose into Arizona’s business?

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Dig these comments, taken from a news story on the Web site Reuters.com:

“I am first calling for the resignation and removal of Sheriff Arpaio. Harassment based on color is nothing short of racial profiling, which many of us helped fight to make against the law. Arpaio [Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County] needs to be confronted. He needs to be removed. We also need to suspend the law that he is using. We must stand with our brown brothers and sisters.”

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Rev. Al probably didn’t get this memo, but he shouldn’t fret. Apparently much of black America didn’t get it either. Our “brown brothers and sisters” in L.A. have been at war with black folks for at least the past four or five years. Few of us talk about it. None of our so-called leaders do.

To be fair to Sharpton, he did go to Los Angeles in September of 2005 to visit Jefferson High School, where our brown brothers and sisters weren’t feeling their black kinfolk. The sentiment must have been mutual, because fights had broken out between Latinos and blacks the previous April.

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Now, I’m not saying Sharpton shouldn’t go to Arizona. If he feels that passionately about the Arizona law, perhaps he should. (For the record, I’m very much for the law. My reading of American history says that a huge influx of non-black immigrants into the country is usually very bad news for black folks. Guess Rev. Al read some different history books.)

{snip} If black folks “stand with our brown brothers and sisters” in Arizona, what are they going to do for us?

Historically, some of our brown brothers and sisters have stood with whites, not us. I can’t believe Sharpton hasn’t read George Jackson’s “Soledad Brother.” He either hasn’t read it, or read it and glossed over Jackson’s observation in a June 1970 letter to his lawyer about the situation in a television room at one of California’s state penitentiaries.

Jackson made it clear where our “brown brothers” stood right on page 23: “The blacks occupy one side of the room, the whites and the Mexicans the other.”

On page 219, Jackson wrote of the television room that “the blacks had to sit in the rear. . . on hard, armless, backless benches while the Mexicans and the whites sat up front on cushioned chairs and benches with backrests!”

And on page 218, Jackson wrote some more of how Mexican-Americans used “brown-skin privilege” to their advantage: “When I hit the yard in ’62, the brothers were lining up in the rain, outside the protection of the shed that covers half the upper yard. The Mexicans and the whites had occupied all the lines under the shed.”

{snip} Considering the events Jackson described, and what is going on between blacks and Latinos in Los Angeles today, just why are we “standing with our brown brothers and sisters” in Arizona?

And when are they going to stand with their black brothers and sisters in Los Angeles?

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