Reality is far more complicated than most reporters or politicians care to contemplate. For example, several studies have shown that when immigration laws are enforced more strictly, black employment rises. The simple fact is that many Latino immigrants undercut black wages in lower skilled jobs. On the other hand, government quotas for minority-owned contracting have been shown to discriminate against Latino-owned businesses in favor of black-owned businesses. The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce recently filed a complaint in Milwaukee alleging that they were being punished for their industry and success. This doesn’t even begin to explore the competition for college admissions spots made more complex by racial quotas.
As a pastor, I am proud to have blacks and Latinos worshipping side by side in the churches that are part of my new network of churches (International Communion of Evangelical Churches). I have learned on the job that you cannot lump Puerto Ricans in with Mexicans or Guatemalans any more than you can lump Nigerians in with Kenyans, or blacks from the Bronx in with blacks from South Carolina. Race relations are complicated, far more complicated than the “whites oppressing blacks and others” narrative allows us to appreciate. There is no cheap policy fix for racial ignorance and hatred, and I’ve learned that the only way trust can be built between people of different backgrounds is through meaningful dialogue and relationships.
Although race relations in the United States have a long way to go, Juan Williams rightly pointed out in the Wall Street Journal that young black murder victims are far more likely to be killed by other blacks than by members of other races. He correctly calls the entertainment industry to task for perpetuating the stereotype of young black males as violent gangsters. All of us can recognize that it is difficult for black crime victims to find justice, whoever their assailants, and still know that there is much work the black community needs to do on itself.
There are no easy answers in the Trayvon Martin case: this was not Emmett Till, Part II. The black community has a different set of challenges to face today than we did in the days of lynching, and we will only make progress if we can face them honestly.
Bishop Harry Jackson is chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD, and co-authored, Personal Faith, Public Policy [FrontLine; March 2008] with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.