Monday, August 21, 2006

Minorities Will Soon Be the Majority in This Country, So Let’s Come Together Now

Judge Greg Mathis: Across this country, various ethnic groups are falling victim to political manipulation and fighting with each other for the few crumbs that are tossed their way. If all of these ethnic groups banned together, we’d see a huge difference in the way resources were distributed across this country -- children of color would have access to a good education, prisons would not be overrun with black and Latino men, and urban areas would not be so impoverished. Instead, the powers that be have us all convinced that Latinos are a threat to our very existence, that Asians are using poor people to grow rich -- the list of stereotypes and lies goes on and on. This type of divide-and-conquer maneuvering has served to repress people across the globe for generations. It is time that we break free from it. Fighting amongst minorities only solidifies the elite’s power.

One key issue a black, brown and yellow coalition could help resolve is affirmative action. The conservative leanings of the current Supreme Court have put this long-debated practice at risk. Those looking to do away with affirmative action use fear tactics and argue that unqualified minorities are getting hired or accepted into schools over more qualified whites.

The reality is that white women -- long considered a minority because they lacked the political muscle and earning power of their male counterparts -- have benefited from the practice more than any other group. The number of white women attending and completing college rose substantially when universities began implementing their legally mandated affirmative action programs. Nevertheless, affirmative action as we know it is in danger because the majority in power is determined to keep the status quo.

Unity amongst people of color could dramatically change the course of America and buck that status quo. In Chicago, a unified black and Latino base elected the city’s first black mayor in the 1980s. More recently, Antonio Villaraigosa rode a similar wave of unity when he became Los Angeles’ first Hispanic mayor. Without the collective power of the two ethnic groups, neither men would have been elected and their progressive ideas would not have helped moved those cities forward.

People of color don’t have to wait until 2050, the year our numbers are expected to eclipse those of whites, to come together. We can begin that work now. It’s time we stop looking at our differences and time to begin noticing what we have in common -- concern for our children, our communities and our futures.


Judge Greg Mathis is national vice president of Rainbow PUSH and a national board member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference

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