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Topic subjectAn Open Letter To African Americans From Latinos
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4075, An Open Letter To African Americans From Latinos
Posted by malang, Fri Sep-05-03 08:55 AM
for what its worth....

An Open Letter To African Americans From Latinos

An Open Letter To African Americans From Latinos


Peoples of color are being hurt more than ever today, thanks to the
"Permanent War on Terrorism" and the war at home. It, therefore, seems more
important than ever to build alliances between our peoples who have similar
struggles for liberation from poverty and racism, for peace with justice.

This open letter is offered in that spirit.

The media have been full of it this year, with such headlines as "Hispanics
Now Largest Minority," "America's Ethnic Shift," "Latinos pass blacks unless
you count black Latinos" and "Hispanics Pass Blacks." We even hear
late-night TV host Jay Leno 'joke' to his musician (a Black man) that since
Latinos are now the largest minority - not African Americans - he and the
musician are minorities together.

As Latino/a teachers, activists, community people, students, artists and
writers, we stand fiercely opposed to anyone making those statistics a
reason to forget the unique historical experience of African Americans, the
almost unimaginable inhumanity of slavery lasting centuries, the vast
distance that remains on their long walk to freedom. We cannot let whatever
meager attention has been given to the needs of Black people up to now be
diminished by those new statistics.

In the Latino/a community we will combat the competitiveness that could feed
on those headlines and blind some of our people to the truth of this
society. We will combat the opportunism that is likely to intensify among
Latino politicians and professionals. We celebrate the unique resistance by
African Americans over the centuries, which has provided an inspiring
example for our communities as shown by the Chicano movement of 1965-75. We
affirm the absolute necessity of standing with you against racist
oppression, exploitation and repression - the real axis of evil - and of
supporting your demand for reparations.

Latinos/as who may find it hard to see beyond their own poverty, their own
struggles against racism - which are indeed real - need to think about one
simple truth. Only solidarity and alliances with others will create the
strength needed to win justice.

Those newly announced statistics emphasize difference and pit Brown against
Black like athletes racing against each other in the Oppression Olympics.
But other numbers show how much we share the same problems of being denied a
decent life, education, health care and all human rights. In times of war,
look who fights and dies for the United States out of all proportion to our
populations: Black and Brown people.

To put it bluntly: We are both being screwed, so let's get it together!

History makes the message clear. It is worth recalling a major reason why
George Washington - the invader who wasn't our Great White Father any more
than yours - became president. He made a name for himself by successfully
using the tactic of divide and conquer against different native nations and
tribes. Divide and conquer, later divide and control, has sustained White
supremacy ever since. It will continue to do so unless we cry out a joint,
unmistakable, thunderous NO.

That will not be easy. Our peoples have different histories and cultures,
together with great ignorance about each other. Competition for scarce
resources, from jobs to funding for university departments, can be real.
Latinos/as do not always see how in a nation so deeply rooted in racism,
they may have internalized the value system of White supremacy and White

As Latinos/as, we are committed to help build alliances against our common
enemies. We oppose the divisiveness encouraged by statistics about who is
more numerous than who. As activists, we urge our community to support Black
struggles and to fight together at every opportunity for our peoples'
liberation. As educators, we work to teach about both Black and Brown
history, and our past alliances. As men and women, we can never do too much
to assert our common humanity across color lines.

Last, but hardly least, Latinas/os are a very diverse people with many
different nationalities and histories. We also have various roots. In
particular, we should recall that more Africans were brought to Mexico as
slaves than the number of Spaniards who came, as can be seen by the
all-African villages in Mexico today. The African in us demands proud


Dr. Rodolfo Acuña, historian and author, California State University at
Juan Carlos Aguilar, program director, Solidago Foundation, Northampton,
Gloria Anzaldúa, writer, scholar and spiritual activist, Santa Cruz, Calif.
Ricardo Ariza, director, multicultural affairs, Creighton University, Omaha,
Frank Bonilla, professor, University of California-Riverside and professor
emeritus, Hunter College, N.Y.
Roberto Calderon, associate professor, history, University of North Texas,
Antonia Castañeda, associate professor, history, St. Mary's College, San
Antonio, Texas
Marta Cruz-Jansen, associate professor, Florida Atlantic University, Boca
Raoul Contreras, associate professor, Latino Studies, Indiana University-NW,
Kaira Espinosa, student activist, San Francisco State University at San
Estevan Flores, executive director, Latino/a Research & Policy Center,
University of Colorado, Denver
Bill Gallegos, Freedom Road Socialist Organization, Los Angeles
César Garza, graduate student, Loyola University, Chicago
Yolanda Broyles-Gonzales, professor, Chicano Studies, University of
California-Santa Barbara
Francisco Herrera, community singer and activist, San Francisco
Jacque Larrainzar, musician and civil rights activist, Puerto Rico
Aya de León, writer, performer and activist, Berkeley, Calif.
Emma Lozana, director, Centro Sin Fronteras, Chicago
Jennie Luna, teacher, danzante and activist, New York
Roberto Maestas, executive director and co-founder, El Centro de La Raza,
Frank Martín del Campo, president, Labor Council for Latin American
Advancement, San Francisco
Elizabeth "Betita" Martínez, author, activist and teacher, San Francisco
Adelita Medina, free-lance journalist, New York
Roberto Miranda, editor-in-chief, "Spanish Journal," Milwaukee, Wis.
Carlos Montes, board president, Centro Community Service Center, Los Angeles
Richard Moore, executive director, Southwest Network for Environmental and
Economic Justice, Albuquerque, N.M.
Cherríe Moraga, author and playwright, San Francisco
Aurora Levins Morales, writer, historian, educator and organizer, Berkeley,
Ricardo Levins Morales, artist, educator and organizer, Minneapolis
Estela Ortega, director of operations and co-founder, El Centro de la Raza,
Joe Navarro, school teacher, poet and activist, Hollister, Calif.
José Palafox, doctoral candidate and filmmaker, U.C.-Berkeley
Eric Quezada, housing activist, San Francisco
Raúl Quiñones-Rosado and María Reinat-Pumarejo, Institute for Latino
Empowerment, Caguas, Puerto Rico
Marianna Rivera, Educator, Zapatista Solidarity Coalition, Sacramento
Dr. Julia E. Curry Rodriguez, assistant professor, San Jose State University
Victor M. Rodriguez, Crossroads Ministry board member and associate
professor, California State University-Long Beach
Graciela Sánchez, executive director, Esperanza Peace & Justice Center, San
Antonio, Texas
John Santos, musician, author, educator and founder of Machete Ensemble,
Oakland, Calif.
Renée Saucedo, activist-attorney and director Day Labor Program, San
Olga Talamante, executive director, Chicana/Latina Foundation, Pacifica,
Luis "Bato" Talamantez, human rights activist, former political prisoner and
poet, San Francisco
Piri Thomas, author, poet and activist, Albany, Calif.
Dr. Mercedes Lynn Uriarte, professor of journalism, University of Texas,
Leonard Valdez, director, Multi-Cultural Center, California State University
at Sacramento

The letter was prepared by Elizabeth Martínez, longtime activist, author and
director of the Institute for MultiRacial Justice, in consultation with Phil
Hutchings, last chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee
and co-founder of the Institute and currently an
activist in Oakland. Send comments or suggestions to the Institute in San
Francisco at i4mrj@aol.com.