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Thursday, May 04, 2006

Do we get left behind again?

The Rev. Jesse Jackson on Monday at a rally in New York.

Growing Unease for Some Blacks on Immigration

Published: May 4, 2006

WASHINGTON, May 3 — In their demonstrations across the country, some Hispanic immigrants have compared the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s struggle to their own, singing "We Shall Overcome" and declaring a new civil rights movement to win citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants.

Some blacks are uneasy about immigrants' taking on the mantle of the civil rights era, but John R. Campbell Jr. says blacks and Hispanics should be united.

Civil rights stalwarts like the Rev. Jesse Jackson; Representative John Lewis, Democrat of Georgia; Julian Bond and the Rev. Joseph E. Lowery have hailed the recent protests as the natural progression of their movement in the 1960's.

But despite some sympathy for the nation's illegal immigrants, many black professionals, academics and blue-collar workers feel increasingly uneasy as they watch Hispanics flex their political muscle while assuming the mantle of a seminal black struggle for justice.

Some blacks bristle at the comparison between the civil rights movement and the immigrant demonstrations, pointing out that black protesters in the 1960's were American citizens and had endured centuries of enslavement, rapes, lynchings and discrimination before they started marching.

Others worry about the plight of low-skilled black workers, who sometimes compete with immigrants for entry-level jobs.

And some fear the unfinished business of the civil rights movement will fall to the wayside as America turns its attention to a newly energized Hispanic minority with growing political and economic clout.

"All of this has made me start thinking, 'What's going to happen to African-Americans?' " said Brendon L. Laster, 32, a black fund-raiser at Howard University here, who has been watching the marches. "What's going to happen to our unfinished agenda?"

Mr. Laster is dapper and cosmopolitan, a part-time professor and Democratic activist who drinks and dines with a wide circle of black, white and Hispanic friends. He said he marveled at first as the images of cheering, flag-waving immigrants flickered across his television screen. But as some demonstrators proclaimed a new civil rights movement, he grew uncomfortable.

He says that immigrant protesters who claim the legacy of Dr. King and Rosa Parks are going too far. And he has begun to worry about the impact that the emerging immigrant activism will have on black Americans, many of whom still face poverty, high rates of unemployment and discrimination in the workplace.

The reason for this is historical.

Once, the Irish and blacks were social equals. But by 1900, blacks were left behind. Will this happen again?

But the difference is simple: the fact is that we're talking about brown people. And the racism on display has been so intense that it is astounding. They aren't going to open the doors to them because they're brown.

The more color blind and the more rights we have as a country, the more blacks benefit. Giving million of hispanics the rights of citizens will benefit black people because of the increased expansion of rights. Worrying about competiton means you need to compete, not hope that by stomping on other people,

posted by Steve @ 12:04:00 AM

12:04:00 AM

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