Angela Davis, former Black Panther, is the go-to commentator on any protest or political uprising these days. (And, apparently, the go-to stencil for “street artists” designing nostalgic protest fliers.)
So why hasn't anyone asked her how she feels about the DREAM Act — the national push to grant undocumented students and soldiers their citizenship, and one of the greatest civil-rights fights of the 21st century?
… as interviewer Derek Washington noted in a recent sit-down with Davis, there's somewhat of a disconnect between the black struggle for equality and that of Latinos.
Washington said a lot of black people feel like, “That's not my fight.”
We've observed some resentment among local black leaders toward Latinos who come to California to find work. Long Beach City Council candidate Robert Wideman, a top supporter of the Republican push to repeal our in-state DREAM Act, recently called the Latino influx an “invasion.”
Here was his rationale: “While Americans are suffering from this invasion, blacks are suffering the most. It's an atrocity. … Take a 22-year-old going into college, trying to get an education for himself. He's trying to get a job at McDonalds, at Burger King, and there are more Latinos working there than anyone else. The Latinos are taking over the job market.”
Of course, Wideman is an extreme example — but perhaps he's just saying openly what many are thinking in the back of their minds.
Davis doesn't see it that way. Here are her words on the importance of fighting for the DREAM Act, from the “Citizens for Immigrants” interview:
“It's important because it represents one of the most important arenas in the ongoing struggle for civil rights in this country, and particularly those of us who have a history of struggling for civil rights — I'm speaking very specifically about the African-American community.”
“It is a cause that black people should embrace. One of the things that we need to remember is that the victories that have been won in the struggle for black freedom never would have been possible if only black people were the ones who were active in those struggles. … I know my case would not have been won, as it was, had not it been for the activism of the Chicano community in San Jose when I was tried on charges of … conspiracy. In San Jose, there was a very minuscule black community there at that time. And it was in the Chicano community that the major organizing took place.”
“I don't understand how people can assume that its possible for each racialized ethnic group to go it alone.”
“As people who have benefited from these freedom struggles, it is our responsibility to continue justice as Martin Luther King, Jr. pointed out is indivisible, and justice for black people must be used on behalf of justice for Latinos, and justice for immigrants, and justice for undocumented immigrants.”
After the recent John and Ken suspension at KFI radio (the shock jocks called Whitney Houston a “crack ho”), the head of the National Hispanic Media Coalition observed that “the African-American community has got a history of civil-rights action, a strong one. … White America is much more sensitive to African-Americans than they are to anyone else.”
What do you think? Does that give blacks the responsibility to fight for the latest minority (quickly turning majority in places like Los Angeles) to be spat on by America?