Black and Latinx people have a long-shared history of communal struggle … and beef. In the spirit of allyship, and as people from all backgrounds rally for racial justice, Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.) published an op-ed in The Hill on June 22 titled, “Unity among Latino and African American communities grows as the nation demands change.”
“As a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), I am proud to stand with my Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) colleagues to demand justice and call for an end to the police brutality and targeting of African Americans around the nation,” Espaillat wrote.
He also explained that while farm labor leader Cesar Chavez and civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr. were said to have never met, their commitment to Black/Brown unity was evident in a 1966 telegram King sent to Chavez where he called their separate struggles one struggle. “We are together with you in spirit and in determination that our dreams for a better tomorrow will be realized,” King wrote in the letter.
But the energy has shifted slightly in Chicago, where recent unrest between Black and Latinx residents, following protests over George Floyd’s death, bubbled up earlier this month with many accusing Latinx gangs of indiscriminately attacking their Black neighbors. In 2007, the Southern Poverty Law Center published an article stating that Latinx prison gangs were ordering their Southern California members on the outside to terrorize Black people.
As Espaillat wrote:
Now is the time for systemic and transformational change of America’s policing system, to transition away from a policing-first model. The best anti-crime policies are anti-poverty policies, and we must invest in our communities to foster hope, change and opportunity. If we fail to act and implement real change today, history will judge us by our inaction and failure to ensure life, liberty and justice for all.
Read Espaillat’s full op-ed here.