P O S T E D B Y A L B E R T
As we move closer to the 2008 presidential election, an increasing number of politicians and political operatives will attempt to use the immigration issue to drive a wedge between the Black and Brown communities.
Some will blame the hiring of low-skilled immigrants for the decline in employment among Black American men. (A very thoughtful article by Bill Fletcher, Jr. at the Black Commentator addresses this issue.) Others will point to longstanding tensions between African Americans and Latinos.
But those of us inside and outside these communities need to resist the claim that it’s a zero-sum game. We need to acknowledge the legacy of hundreds of years of slavery, colonialism, and other forms of oppression. We also need to begin shifting our focus from the competition for low-paying jobs to guaranteeing a living wage and strong safety net for all Americans. One immigration advocacy organization puts it this way:
As long as the “ladder” that allows different race and ethnic groups to, over time, climb into other employment opportunities (through training, employment, etc.) is broken, multiple groups will get stuck at and compete along the same rung – for the unskilled, non-stable and, for the most part, non-union jobs in the secondary sector.
According to a new study by the Economic Mobility Project, American men have less earning power today than their fathers did (when adjusted for inflation). Workers are losing ground. And we have yet to fully appreciate the links between the dynamics of labor markets in the United States and increasing globalization.
The more our Black and Brown communities are divided and conquered, the less likely they’ll be able to counter the larger forces eroding their earning and savings power.