I recently read Tanya Kateri Hernandezʼs article “Black-on-Mexican Violence in Staten Island, NY: The Untold Tale of Turf Defense”. A guest commentary in the National Institute for Latino Policy e-newsletter, Hernandez discusses the rise of racial violence in Staten Island involving African Americans committing violent assaults against Mexicans. Hernandez provides a great commentary on the racial context in which the violence is occurring, arguing that “institutional racism and segregated racialized spaces” is at the root of the problem.
Learning about the violence in NY along with other incidents throughout the country over the past few years, I am quite disturbed by the fact that some African Americans have chosen to misdirect our anger and frustration about a myriad of social and economic issues on Latino immigrants. With our history of slavery, lynching, marginalization, discrimination and exploitation, why would we engage in such violent acts? Why torment, blame and demonize Latino immigrants?
I am convinced that African Americans must address our own xenophobia andprejudices against other racial/ethnic groups. It is time for us to have a serious dialogue about the bigotry within our own community as well as confront and challenge the attitudes and beliefs that, in many instances, manifest in violent ways. Black-on-Mexican, black-on-black, and black-on-anybody-else violence needs to stop. Only black folks can make that happen!