Trying to brainstorm, bear with me. **Did a little shifting so this could be on top**
So, in revisiting the end of this chapter, I have to consider, once again, the evidence that, at least in issues surrounding the workplace, blacks and immigrants from Latin American countries don't generally build strong coalitions. Hard in an industry that has always been hostile to"traditional" worker organization via unions--in my study, unions have disappointed many black workers (by either being ineffectual in the face of company policy/pressure or by seeming to side with the company) and have been unable to reach Latino workers (b/c of lack of communication and the fact that many work through subcontractors and thus are not eligible for union membership)--and whose management encourages and sometimes sows the seeds of intergroup conflict and tension.
But the problems don't all come from above. There is real resentment on the part of some black workers and a recent study suggested that many Latino immigrants come to the US with negative stereotypes of blacks already firmly embedded. Add to that competition over schools, neighborhoods, and any other number of spaces, and cooperation seems highly unlikely.
Yesterday, in the midst of considering all this, it occurred to me--as Advisor so commonly says--that in studying this, I wasn't reinventing the wheel. Many of the problems between these two groups mirror the issues between black and white workers in the late 19th/early 20th century (and possibly beyond). But here is where my thoughts took a wandering path. In the last couple of decades (or so), historians have argued very convincingly that white workers--even the poorest of the poor--were not wholly manipulated into an unwillingness to build coalitions with black workers. Instead ( and this a very simplistic, rough approximation of a very complicated argument), they were willing to ignore common class issues in the interests of racial solidarity (and this didn't begin in the 19th century). In other words, they accepted, believed in, helped shape white supremacy and the privileging of whiteness and gained just enough from it (even if the gain was ideological) to not cross color lines.
If I compare the black and Latino experiences to that, my question is, if there is no similar privileging of "brownness" (and I don't think there is beyond the issue of "less brown = more better"), what is the overarching reason for the lack of coalition building along class lines? Why is race/ethnicity "trumping" in this particular context, too? I'm thinking that maybe it is related to white supremacy, also, but in a much different way: after years of seeing, and experiencing the wealth of this country in "pie" form, in which the majority group has the dominant share and everyone else is left fighting over a wholly insufficient piece (God, this is a horrible analogy), maybe blacks and Latinos (speaking in a generalized fashion) have accepted the notion that there is a zero-sum game going on, that for one group to advance--get a larger share--another has to take a smaller piece.
I see that, as I work my way through all these sources, reflected in blacks' worries about Latinos being the new, "largest minority group" (whatever that means)--there is a real fear that we will lose whatever political power we had/have, that we will lose powerful whites' attention as they seek to address "Latino" concerns. Conversely, in one sociological study, Latinos expressed some of the same thoughts--that black people had the "ear" of white people, that white people "cared more about" black people, that social services programs were geared for black people.
So the relations, between these two groups is still, in part, being determined in the context of how they understand their relationships with the majority group. But am I discrediting black and Latino agency? Is this way too simple? Does anyone understand what the hell I'm talking about? I had it on my mind and needed to write it out--figured I might as well do it in a context in which I might get feedback.
Update: Y. Carrington has an interesting post so related to what I'm fumbling and bumbling through here.