Black and Brown Coalition Building During the "Post-Racial" Obama Era
McKanders, Karla Mari
This essay explores how the past Civil Rights Movement and discrimination against persons of color, mainly Latinos and African Americans, can help to address current forms of discrimination in our country. In particular, since the election of the first African American President, who also has immigrant parents, many people have claimed that we have reached a “post-racial” America. In the new post-racial America, proponents claim that the pre-Civil Rights Movement racial caste system of the sixties has been eradicated. In this context, this essay seeks to explore whether there is any link between the past experiences of African Americans with the current experiences of Latinos in resisting laws that deprive both groups of their basic civil and human rights. To this end, this essay first examines past employment discrimination against Latinos and African Americans. Second, the paper addresses why there is an historical absence of a unified movement to address discrimination against African Americans and Latinos. The underlying goal is to create a sense of identification between African Americans and Latinos and their experiences in the United States. This section also addresses how both groups may or may not benefit from unified strategies to address discriminatory laws and work for the passage of laws that exclude persons from membership in the American society. The third section addresses how the law has reified social exclusion of African Americans and Latinos. This section focuses on using past models of resistance in an attempt to address labor discrimination against Latinos and African Americans as a wise strategy. Finally, the essay will discuss how intersection and structural-racism theories can be used as a foundation for building a coalition between African Americans and Latinos.