America is Not JUST an Idea
Anti-racist is a code word for anti-white.
Asia for the Asians, Africa for the Africans, White countries for Everybody
It is said that there is this RACE problem. They say this RACE problem will be solved when the third world pours into EVERY white country and ONLY into white countries.
The Netherlands and Belgium are as crowded as Japan or Taiwan, but nobody says Japan or Taiwan will solve this RACE problem by bringing in millions of third worlders and quote assimilating unquote with them.
Everybody says the final solution to this RACE problem is for EVERY white country and ONLY white countries to “assimilate,” i.e., intermarry, with all those non-whites.
What if I said there was this RACE problem and this RACE problem would be solved only if hundreds of millions of non-blacks were brought into EVERY black country and ONLY into black countries?
How long would it take anyone to realize I’m not talking about a RACE problem. I am talking about the final solution to the BLACK problem?
And how long would it take any sane black man to notice this and what kind of psycho black man wouldn’t object to this?
But if I tell that obvious truth about the ongoing program of genocide against my race, the white race, Liberals and respectable conservatives agree that I am a naziwhowantstokillsixmillionjews.
They say they are anti-racist. What they are is anti-white.
Anti-racist is a code word for anti-white.
Thank you Media matters, see you soon on the battlefield.
The Secret of America
By Carol Negro
America is not a plot of land. It is not a culture. It is not a nationality. It is not a set of traditions or customs. It is not a government. It is not a people. It is not a book of laws. And it certainly isn’t a race.
That’s why anyone can become an American. Embrace the idea (and fill out a few forms) and you’re an American.
You’re one of us.
Most other nations are nationalities. Their heritage depends on blood and territory. America is portable. We carry it around in our hearts and minds.
If you bomb our cities, you can’t destroy America. If you ruin our economy, you can’t destroy America. If most of the continent falls into the ocean, you can’t destroy America. Even if you kill most of us, you can’t destroy America.
Because wherever two or more of us are gathered in her name…America is there.
Here is the secret: We don’t live in America. America lives in us.
America is an idea.
The greatest, purest, sweetest, most sublime idea in the history of the world. It lifts man up, it blesses him, it encourage him, it enlightens him, it civilizes him, it opens his heart, it makes him kind and generous and honest and brave and free. It makes him smart and successful and industrious. It makes him innovative and cheerful. It makes him happy, honorable, and honest.
America is an idea.
And it is that idea that is under constant assault in the halls of power, the press room, the classroom, and the screening room.
Who seeks to murder the idea seeks the destruction of America.
What specifically is this idea? It is that man is created with certain inalienable rights, including Life, Liberty, and Property. It is that man has the right to self-government, the right to be left alone, the right to the fruit of his labors, the right to dispose of his property as he sees fit. It is that all men are created equal under God and the law, and that no man can take away these rights, and that the sole duty of government is to protect them. It is that government must be accountable to The People, not the people to the government. It is that ours is to be a nation of laws, not of men, and that no one is above the law. It is that justice is blind. It is that man must be virtuous if he is to be free. It is that human rights come from the creator and cannot be abrogated by men.
The entire goal of the Left is to murder the idea of the goodness and righteousness of freedom, of self-reliance, of independence, of merit, of virtue, of hard work, of honor, of courage, of sacrifice, of loyalty, of morality, of faith, of the inalienable rights to life, liberty, and property.
The Left, in politics, media, education and entertainment, despise the idea that is America. And they are doing everything in their power to promote a replacement “idea” — one that distorts the language of freedom to promote the serfdom of dependence, twists the meaning of truth to tell lies, seeks to limit freedom, mocks faith, virtue and morality, undermines self-reliance and the independent spirit; one that disdains (or punishes) hard work, laughs at frugality, and sneers at sacrifice; one that approves of murdering new life, regulating liberty, confiscating property, and seizing the fruit of our labors. One that denies the Creator and those annoying and inconvenient inalienable rights.
They seek to replace a divinity with a corpse.
Since America is the idea, plotting the overthrow of the idea is plotting the overthrow of America.
They may love their jobs, their plot of land, their privileges, their personal wealth, their property, their family, their friends, their clubs, and their cars. They may love California wine and Maine lobster and Southern Fried Chicken, Texas barbeque, and Boston baked beans. They may love museums, and lighthouses, and beaches and palm trees and big salty lakes, and waterfalls and huge canyons, and redwoods and geysers and cowboys and Indians. They may love football, and Santa Claus, and Martin Luther King Day. They may love fireworks, and Hollywood, and Harvard. But they don’t love America.
They have already killed her in their own hearts. And they are trying to kill her in ours and our children’s with their unconstitutional laws, their biased reporting, their false history, their immoral and undermining “art.”
They seek nothing less than the death of the American idea, which is far worse than the conquest of territory. They mercilessly and tirelessly work toward the destruction of the American soul.
One Nation, Indivisible: Is It History?
In Los Angeles, demographers see “white flight” beyond the suburbs and into rural areas.
(By Todd Bigelow for The Washington Post)
First in a series of occasional articles
By William Booth
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 22, 1998; Page A1
At the beginning of this century, as steamers poured into American ports, their steerages filled with European immigrants, a Jew from England named Israel Zangwill penned a play whose story line has long been forgotten, but whose central theme has not. His production was entitled “The Melting Pot” and its message still holds a tremendous power on the national imagination – the promise that all immigrants can be transformed into Americans, a new alloy forged in a crucible of democracy, freedom and civic responsibility.
In 1908, when the play opened in Washington, the United States was in the middle of absorbing the largest influx of immigrants in its history – Irish and Germans, followed by Italians and East Europeans, Catholics and Jews – some 18 million new citizens between 1890 and 1920.
Today, the United States is experiencing its second great wave of immigration, a movement of people that has profound implications for a society that by tradition pays homage to its immigrant roots at the same time it confronts complex and deeply ingrained ethnic and racial divisions.
The immigrants of today come not from Europe but overwhelmingly from the still developing world of Asia and Latin America. The are driving a demographic shift so rapid that within the lifetimes of today’s teenagers, no one ethnic group – including whites of European descent – will comprise a majority of the nation’s population.
This shift, according to social historians, demographers and others studying the trends, will severely test the premise of the fabled melting pot, the idea, so central to national identity, that this country can transform people of every color and background into “one America.”
Just as possible, they say, is that the nation will continue to fracture into many separate, disconnected communities with no shared sense of commonality or purpose. Or perhaps it will evolve into something in between, a pluralistic society that will hold on to some core ideas about citizenship and capitalism, but with little meaningful interaction among groups.
The demographic changes raise other questions about political and economic power. Will that power, now held disproportionately by whites, be shared in the new America? What will happen when Hispanics overtake blacks as the nation’s single largest minority?
“I do not think that most Americans really understand the historic changes happening before their very eyes,” said Peter Salins, an immigration scholar who is provost of the State Universities of New York. “What are we going to become? Who are we? How do the newcomers fit in – and how do the natives handle it – this is the great unknown.”
This is the first of a series of articles examining the effects of the new demographics on American life. Over the next few months, other reports will focus on the impact on politics, jobs, and social institutions.
Fear of strangers, of course, is nothing new in American history. The last great immigration wave produced a bitter backlash, epitomized by the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and the return, in the 1920s, of the Ku Klux Klan, which not only targeted blacks, but Catholics, Jews and immigrants as well.
But despite this strife, many historians argue that there was a greater consensus in the past on what it meant to be an American, a yearning for a common language and culture, and a desire – encouraged, if not coerced by members of the dominant white Protestant culture – to assimilate. Today, they say, there is more emphasis on preserving one’s ethnic identity, of finding ways to highlight and defend one’s cultural roots.
Difficult to Measure
More often than not, the neighborhoods where Americans live, the politicians and propositions they vote for, the cultures they immerse themselves in, the friends and spouses they have, the churches and schools they attend, and the way they view themselves are defined by ethnicity. The question is whether, in the midst of such change, there is also enough glue to hold Americans together.
Black community activist Nathaniel J. Wilcox in Miami says, “Hispanics don’t want some of the power, they want all the power.”
(By Todd Bigelow for The Washington Post)
“As we become more and more diverse, there is all this potential to make that reality work for us,” said Angela Oh, a Korean American activist who emerged as a powerful voice for Asian immigrants after the Los Angeles riots in 1992. “But yet, you witness this persistance of segregation, the fragmentation, all these fights over resources, this finger-pointing. You would have to be blind not to see it.”
It is a phenomenon sometimes difficult to measure, but not observe. Houses of worship remain, as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. described it three decades ago, among the most segregated institutions in America, not just by race but also ethnicity. At high school cafeterias, the second and third generation children of immigrants clump together in cliques defined by where their parents or grandparents were born. There are television sitcoms, talk shows and movies that are considered black or white, Latino or Asian. At a place like the law school of the University of California at Los Angeles, which has about 1,000 students, there are separate student associations for blacks, Latinos and Asians with their own law review journals.
It almost goes without saying that today’s new arrivals are a source of vitality and energy, especially in the big cities to which many are attracted. Diversity, almost everyone agrees, is good; choice is good; exposure to different cultures and ideas is good.
But many scholars worry about the loss of community and shared sense of reality among Americans, what Todd Gitlin, a professor of culture and communications at New York University, calls “the twilight of common dreams.” The concern is echoed by many on both the left and right, and of all ethnicities, but no one seems to know exactly what to do about it.
Academics who examine the census data and probe for meaning in the numbers already speak of a new “demographic balkanization,” not only of residential segregation, forced or chosen but also a powerful preference to see ourselves through a racial prism, wary of others, and, in many instances, hostile.
At a recent school board meeting in East Palo Alto, Calif., police had to break up a fight between Latinos and blacks, who were arguing over the merits and expense of bilingual education in a school district that has shifted over the last few years from majority African American to majority Hispanic. One parent told reporters that if the Hispanics wanted to learn Spanish they should stay in Mexico.
The demographic shifts are smudging the old lines demarcating two historical, often distinct societies, one black and one white. Reshaped by three decades of rapidly rising immigration, the national story is now far more complicated.
Whites currently account for 74 percent of the population, blacks 12 percent, Hispanics 10 percent and Asians 3 percent. Yet according to data and predictions generated by the U.S. Census Bureau and social scientists poring over the numbers, Hispanics will likely surpass blacks early in the next century. And by the year 2050, demographers predict, Hispanics will account for 25 percent of the population, blacks 14 percent, Asians 8 percent, with whites hovering somewhere around 53 percent.
As early as next year, whites no longer will be the majority in California; in Hawaii and New Mexico this is already the case. Soon after, Nevada, Texas, Maryland and New Jersey are also predicted to become “majority minority” states, entities where no one ethnic group remains the majority.
Korean American activist Angela Oh says, “This persistence of segregation … you would have to be blind not to see it.”
(By Todd Bigelow
for The Washington Post)
Effects of 1965 Law
The overwhelming majority of immigrants come from Asia and Latin America – Mexico, the Central American countries, the Philippines, Korea, and Southeast Asia.
What triggered this great transformation was a change to immigration law in 1965, when Congress made family reunification the primary criteria for admittance. That new policy, a response to charges that the law favored white Europeans, allowed immigrants already in the United States to bring over their relatives, who in turn could bring over more relatives. As a result, America has been absorbing as many as 1 million newcomers a year, to the point that now almost 1 in every 10 residents is foreign born.
These numbers, relative to the overall population, were slightly higher at the beginning of this century, but the current immigration wave is in many ways very different, and its context inexorably altered, from the last great wave.
This time around tensions are sharpened by the changing profile of those who are entering America’s borders. Not only are their racial and ethnic backgrounds more varied than in decades past, their place in a modern postindustrial economy has also been recast.
The newly arrived today can be roughly divided into two camps: those with college degrees and highly specialized skills, and those with almost no education or job training. Some 12 percent of immigrants have graduate degrees, compared to 8 percent of native Americans. But more than one-third of the immigrants have no high school diploma, double the rate for those born in the United States.
Before 1970, immigrants were actually doing better than natives overall, as measured by education, rate of homeownership and average incomes. But those arriving after 1970, are younger, more likely to be underemployed and live below the poverty level. As a group, they are doing worse than natives.
About 6 percent of new arrivals receive some form of welfare, double the rate for U.S.-born citizens. Among some newcomers – Cambodians and Salvadorans, for example – the numbers are even higher.
With large numbers of immigrants arriving from Latin America, and segregating in barrios, there is also evidence of lingering language problems. Consider that in Miami, three-quarters of residents speak a language other than English at home and 67 percent of those say they are not fluent in English. In New York City, 4 of every 10 residents speak a language other than English at home, and of these, half said they do not speak English well.
It is clear that not all of America is experiencing the impact of immigration equally. Although even small midwestern cities have seen sharp changes in their racial and ethnic mix in the past two decades, most immigrants continue to cluster into a handful of large, mostly coastal metropolitan areas: Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Miami, Washington, D.C., and Houston. They are home to more than a quarter of the total U.S. population and more than 60 percent of all foreign-born residents.
But as the immigrants arrive, many American-born citizens pour out of these cities in search of new homes in more homogeneous locales. New York and Los Angeles each lost more than 1 million native-born residents between 1990 and 1995, even as their populations increased by roughly the same numbers with immigrants. To oversimplify, said University of Michigan demographer William Frey, “For every Mexican who comes to Los Angeles, a white native-born leaves.”
Most of the people leaving the big cities are white and they tend to working class. This is an entirely new kind of “white flight,” whereby whites are not just fleeing the city centers for the suburbs but also are leaving the region, and often the state.
“The Ozzies and Harriets of the 1990s are skipping the suburbs of the big cities and moving to more homogeneous, mostly white smaller towns and smaller cities and rural areas,” Frey said.
They’re headed to Atlanta, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Portland, Denver, Austin and Orlando, as well as smaller cities in Nevada, Idaho, Colorado and Washington. Frey and other demographers believe the domestic migrants – black and white – are being “pushed” out, at least in part, by competition with immigrants for jobs and neighborhoods, political clout and lifestyle.
Frey sees in this pattern “the emergence of separate Americas, one white and middle-aged, less urban and another intensely urban, young, multicultural and multiethnic. One America will care deeply about English as the official language and about preserving Social Security. The other will care about things like retaining affirmative action and bilingual education.”
This century’s huge wave of immigrants is attracted to large metropolitan areas like Los Angeles, above.
(By Todd Bigelow for The Washington Post)
Even within gateway cities that give the outward appearance of being multicultural, there are sharp lines of ethnic segregation. When describing the ethnic diversity of a bellwether megacity such as Los Angeles, many residents speak soaringly of the great mosaic of many peoples. But the social scientists who look at the hard census data see something more complex.
James P. Allen, a cultural geographer at California State University-Northridge, suggests that while Los Angeles, as seen from an airplane, is a tremendously mixed society, on the ground, racial homogeneity and segregation are common.
This is not a new phenomenon; there have always been immigrant neighborhoods. Ben Franklin, an early proponent of making English the “official language,” worried about close-knit German communities. Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y) described the lingering clannishness of Irish and other immigrant populations in New York in “Beyond the Melting Pot,” a benchmark work from the 1960s that he wrote with Nathan Glazer.
But the persistance of ethnic enclaves and identification does not appear to be going away, and may not in a country that is now home to not a few distinct ethnic groups, but to dozens. Hispanics in Los Angeles, to take the dominant group in the nation’s second largest city, are more segregated residentially in 1990 than they were 10 or 20 years ago, the census tracts show. Moreover, it is possible that what mixing of groups that does occur is only a temporary phenomenon as one ethnic group supplants another in the neighborhood.
If there is deep-seated ethnic segregation, it clearly extends to the American workplace. In many cities, researchers find sustained “ethnic niches” in the labor market. Because jobs are often a matter of whom one knows, the niches were enduring and remarkably resistant to outsiders.
In California, for example, Mexican immigrants are employed overwhelmingly as gardeners and domestics, in apparel and furniture manufacturing, and as cooks and food preparers. Koreans open small businesses. Filipinos become nurses and medical technicians. African Americans work in government jobs, an important niche that is increasingly being challenged by Hispanics who want in.
UCLA’s Roger Waldinger and others have pointed to the creation, in cities of high immigration, of “dual economies.”
For the affluent, which includes a disproportionate number of whites, the large labor pool provides them with a ready supply of gardeners, maids and nannies. For businesses in need of cheap manpower, the same is true. Yet there are fewer “transitional” jobs – the blue-collar work that helped Italian and Irish immigrants move up the economic ladder – to help newcomers or their children on their way to the jobs requiring advanced technical or professional skills that now dominate the upper tier of the economy.
A Rung at a Time
Traditionally, immigration scholars have seen the phenomenon of assimilation as a relentless economic progression. The hard-working new arrivals struggle along with a new language and at low-paying jobs in order for their sons and daughters to climb the economic ladder, each generation advancing a rung. There are many cases where this is true.
More recently, there is evidence to suggest that economic movement is erratic and that some groups – particularly in high immigration cities – can get “stuck.”
Among African Americans, for instance, there emerges two distinct patterns. The black middle class is doing demonstrably better – in income, home ownership rates, education – than it was when the demographic transformation (and the civil rights movement) began three decades ago.
But for African Americans at the bottom, research indicates that immigration, particularly of Latinos with limited education, has increased joblessness, and frustration.
In Miami, where Cuban immigrants dominate the political landscape, tensions are high between Hispanics and blacks, said Nathaniel J. Wilcox, a community activist there. “The perception in the black community, the reality, is that Hispanics don’t want some of the power, they want all the power,” Wilcox said. “At least when we were going through this with the whites during the Jim Crow era, at least they’d hire us. But Hispanics won’t allow African Americans to even compete. They have this feeling that their community is the only community that counts.”
Yet many Hispanics too find themselves in an economic “mobility trap.” While the new immigrants are willing to work in low-end jobs, their sons and daughters, growing up in the barrios but exposed to the relentless consumerism of popular culture, have greater expectations, but are disadvantaged because of their impoverished settings, particularly the overwhelmed inner-city schools most immigrant children attend.
“One doubts that a truck-driving future will satisfy today’s servants and assemblers. And this scenario gets a good deal more pessimistic if the region’s economy fails to deliver or simply throws up more bad jobs,” writes Waldinger, a professor of sociology and director of center for regional policy studies at the University of California-Los Angeles.
Though there are calls to revive efforts to encourage “Americanization” of the newcomers, many researchers now express doubt that the old assimilation model works. For one thing, there is less of a dominant mainstream to enter. Instead, there are a dozen streams, despite the best efforts by the dominant white society to lump groups together by ethnicity.
It is a particularly American phenomenon, many say, to label citizens by their ethnicity. When a person lived in El Salvador, for example, he or she saw themselves as a nationality. When they arrive in the United States, they become Hispanic or Latino. So too with Asians. Koreans and Cambodians find little in common, but when they arrive here they become “Asian,” and are counted and courted, encouraged or discriminated against as such.
“My family has had trouble understanding that we are now Asians, and not Koreans, or people from Korea or Korean Americans, or just plain Americans,” said Arthur Lee, who owns a dry cleaning store in Los Angeles. “Sometimes, we laugh about it. Oh, the Asian students are so smart! The Asians have no interest in politics! Whatever. But we don’t know what people are talking about. Who are the Asians?”
Many immigrant parents say that while they want their children to advance economically in their new country, they do not want them to become “too American.” A common concern among Haitians in South Florida is that their children will adopt the attitudes of the inner city’s underclass. Vietnamese parents in New Orleans often try to keep their children immersed in their ethnic enclave and try not to let them assimilate too fast.
One study of the children of immigrants, conducted six years ago among young Haitians, Cubans, West Indians, Mexican and Vietnamese in South Florida and Southern California, suggests the parents are not alone in their concerns.
Asked by researchers Alejandro Portes and Ruben Rumbauthow how they identified themselves, most chose categories of hyphenated Americans. Few choose “American” as their identity.
Then there was this – asked if they believe the United States in the best country in the world, most of the youngsters answered: no.
A White Migration North From Miami
| Gated entrances and patrol cars provide Weston, Fla., residents with security. By Andrew Itkoff for The Washington Post)
Fifth in a series of occasional articles
By William Booth
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 11, 1998; Page A1
WESTON, Fla. – Everything here is nice and neat, just the way Joanne Smith likes it. The developers call their new city on the edge of the Everglades “Our Home Town,” and Smith agrees. “It’s more like America,” she says.
Like thousands of others, Smith moved to this planned community 40 miles north of Miami just a few years ago, searching for a safe and secure neighborhood like this one, where both modest homes and rambling mansions sit against the manicured landscape of palm and hibiscus, and gated streets called Wagon Way and Windmill Ranch gently curve around the shallow lagoons and golf links.
Weston is a boomtown filling with refugees. But the migrants pouring into this part of Broward County are rarely those from the Caribbean, Central and South America – the immigrants to the south who have transformed Miami and surrounding Dade County into a metropolis proudly called by its business and political leaders “The Gateway to Latin America.”
Instead, the refugees here are mostly native-born and white, young and old, and they have been streaming up from Miami for years now, creating a new version of the traditional “white flight” in reaction not to black inner cities, but to immigration.
While Miami is unique in many respects, because of both geography and politics, the out-migration of whites is occurring in other high-immigration cities. New York and Los Angeles, for example, each lost a million U.S.-born residents in the last decade, as they gained a million immigrants.
According to an analysis of the most recent census data, for almost every immigrant who came to Miami-Dade County in recent years, a white non-Hispanic left.
“I loved Miami, but it’s a mad scene down there now,” said Smith, who is semi-retired and asked that her occupation not be given. Before her move to Weston, Smith lived in Miami for two decades, “in a nice neighborhood gone bad. People say things, ‘Oh that’s change and that’s progress,’ but I like it clean and green – and everybody speaking English,” Smith says.
In discussions about the historic demographic transformations occurring in the United States, which is absorbing almost 1 million immigrants a year, most of the attention focuses quite naturally on the newcomers: Who are they and where are they from and how do they make their way in America?
But immigration is a two-way street – and the welcome the immigrants receive from the native-born is crucial for the continued idea of America as a fabled “melting pot.” Of course, there are many whites – and blacks, too – who have remained in Miami-Dade County, to either continue their lives as before or accept, even embrace the Latin tempo of Miami, who have learned how to pronounce masas de puerco at lunchtime and to fake a respectable merengue dance step, who enjoy the culture, the business opportunities and caffeinated hustle of a metropolis dominated by immigrants. No one could call Miami dull.
But it is almost as if there are two kinds of native whites – those who can deal with multiculturalism that has transformed Miami over the past several decades and those who choose not to. Either way, if the country is to successfully transform itself into a completely multicultural industrialized nation, what these internal migrants say – and there are millions of them around the country – needs to be heard and understood.
Those transplants interviewed by The Washington Post, including those who asked that their names not be used, take pains to explain that, for the most part, the people like them who are moving out of Miami-Dade to Broward are not anti-immigrant xenophobes.
In several dozen interviews with a cross-section of these “domestic migrants,” a picture emerges of a segment of the non-Hispanic white population in Miami-Dade County that feels marginalized, exasperated and sometimes bitter, and who move from Dade to Broward with a mix of emotions.
Migrants to Broward give many reasons for the move north: Their money buys a bigger, newer house in Broward; they are tired of the traffic and congestion; they worry about crime; they complain about the overcrowded schools; those with young families often say they are looking for a place where their children can play ball in the front yard and ride their bikes down the block.
But all these things, the good and bad, can also be found in booming Broward County. Sooner or later, many of the refugees moving north mention immigration and the sense that they are no longer, as many transplants describe it, “comfortable.”
Phil Phillips was born and raised near what is today downtown Miami, where his father worked for the Immigration and Naturalization Service during the postwar years, at a time when the immigrants to Florida were mostly from Europe. Phillips served in the Navy, taught vocational classes at Miami High School, and made a living running a small air conditioning and refrigeration business.
Until the rise of Fidel Castro in Cuba, Phillips described the Miami of yesteryear as a more sleepy, more southern town. It had its glitz in the fanciful playground of Jackie Gleason’s city of Miami Beach, but the county was still filled with open land and farms.
“Miami was a very happy place,” Phillips remembers with nostalgia. “We had our demarcations, don’t get me wrong. But we didn’t have the animosity.” When pressed, Phillips does remember that the beaches, restaurants and nightclubs were often segregated, not only for African Americans. Jews had their own country clubs.
The Miami of black-and-white all began to change with the arrival of the Cubans in the early 1960s. “The vast majority of the Cubans came here and worked two and three jobs,” said Phillips, who is retired and living in Weston. A man who worked with his hands all his life, Phillips respects that. “I saw them do it. And in time, they took over, and some people resent that. But that’s the way it is.”
“There’s this myth out there that a Cuban will screw an American in a deal,” Phillips says. “I don’t think that is so, but that’s the feeling the whites have, and it’s because the two sides don’t communicate, sometimes they can’t communicate, and so they don’t understand the other guy.”
Phillips has seen decades of change, as the demographics of his home town kept skewing toward Hispanics, in fits and starts. After the first big influx of Cubans in the 1960s, there was Cuba’s Mariel boatlift in 1980. Then all through the proxy wars and upheavals in Central America and the Caribbean through the 1980s and 1990s, refugees from Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador and Haiti kept coming to Miami.
“We’re great in America at blaming somebody else for our problems,” Phillips said. “But I will tell that for a lot of the people who leave Miami, they might not tell you, but they’re leaving because of the ethnics.”
| Tim Robbie, proprietor of The Sporting Brews restaurant in Weston, Fla. (By Andrew Itkoff for The Washington Post)
Phillips offered his opinions as he sat sipping soup at the counter of a new restaurant here in Weston opened by Tim Robbie, whose family owned the Miami Dolphins for years, before they sold out to Wayne Huizenga, who is “The Man” in Broward County, as much as Jorge Mas Canosa, the power behind the Cuban American National Foundation, was “The Man” in Miami before his death last year.
Robbie was raised in Miami. His family, lead by his father Joe, was a civic institution. But Robbie himself recently moved to Weston, too.
“I know a lot of our friends down in Miami were disappointed with us,” Robbie said. “They asked: How can you do this to us?”
Robbie agreed that something akin to “the tipping point” phenomenon might be at work, whereby one or two families in a social or business network can leave a community and nothing much changes. But at some point, if enough people leave, the balance suddenly tips, and large groups start selling their homes, and over a period of several years, they create mass demographic shifts.
Robbie himself said he was comfortable down south in Miami, but concedes that many are not. “Anglos are accustomed to being in the majority, and down in Dade, they’re not. And that puts some people outside of their comfort zone. People tend to like to stick together.”
Robbie’s business partner is Bob Green, who also moved from Miami to Broward. A longtime denizen of funky and fun Coconut Grove, Green describes himself as one of those who never would have thought about moving north to Broward.
But then he saw the new business opportunities, and also found himself liking a place like Weston. “It has this midwestern feeling,” Green said. “More downhome and friendly.”
This mass internal migration is the latest version of a classic “push-pull” model of residential segregation, whereby many whites in Miami feel lured north by the offerings of a development like Weston, but also feel pushed out of Miami – not only by their fatigue with crime or congestion, but the cultural and demographic upheavals caused by three decades of immigration.
Peter Schott is a tourism official who is changing jobs and, reluctantly, moving with his wife, who works for a cruise ship line, to Broward. The couple, both in their thirties and expecting their first child, are looking for a bigger home. Schott says he will miss the exotic, foreign feel of Miami. Miami, Schott says, is a media noche, the name for a Cuban sandwich, while Broward he fears is “white bread and baloney.” While he will miss Miami, Schott knows that many of those moving north to Broward may not.
“Some people are real frank,” he said. “They say they want to be with more people more like us. If they’re white Americans, they want white Americans around them.”
For non-Hispanic, non-Spanish-speaking whites to survive in Miami, there is no choice but to move, or to adapt. “It is our city now,” many Cuban Americans say, and the numbers tell part of the story.
In the 1990s, some 95,000 white non-Hispanics left Miami-Dade County, decreasing that group’s presence by 16 percent, to around 492,000, or about one-fifth of the county population.
They either moved away or, in the case of elderly residents, particularly in the Jewish community, died. (The Jewish population in Miami-Dade County has decreased from about 250,000 to 100,000 in the last two decades. The new destination for Jewish retirees and younger migrants is Broward and Palm Beach counties).
As whites left Miami, they poured into Broward. Between 1990 and 1997, the white non-Hispanic population here increased by about 82,000, or 8 percent, to more than a million residents.
These dramatic numbers follow an equally large out-migration of whites during the 1980s. So many non-Hispanic whites left Miami-Dade in the previous decade that Marvin Dunn, a sociologist at Florida International University, who has followed the trend, said in 1991, “You get down to the point below which those who are going to leave have left and the others are committed to stay. I think we’re close to that with whites.”
But Dunn was wrong. The whites keep leaving.
“White migration to Miami-Dade has essentially stopped,” said William Frey, a demographer at the University of Michigan, who coined the phrase “demographic balkanization” to describe the ongoing trend of ethnic and racial groups to self-segregate – not only within a city, but from city to city, and from state to state.
“The two appear almost like mirror images of each other,” Frey said of Broward and Miami-Dade counties. “There is definitely something going on here and we can only guess what it is. But this ‘One America’ that Clinton talks about is clearly not in the numbers. Segregation and non-assimilation continue.”
Many times, native whites on the move explain that Miami now feels to them like “a foreign country,” that they feel “overwhelmed” by the presence not just of some Spanish-speakers, but so many.
“You order a Coke without ice,” said an executive and mother of three who moved to Broward from Miami in 1996 and asked that her name not be used. “And you get ice. You say no starch and you get starch. You call government offices, and they can’t take a decent message in English. You spell your name letter by letter and they get it wrong. They keep saying ‘Que? Que? Que?’ (Spanish for “What?’) You go to the mall, and you watch as the clerks wait on the Spanish speakers before you. It’s like reverse racism. You realize, my God, this is what it is like to be the minority.”
“The white population feels increasingly beleaguered,” said George Wilson, a sociologist at the University of Miami who is studying the phenomenon.
“Their whole domain is changing at the micro-level,” Wilson continued. “At the malls, in the schools. A lot of the whites I talk to say they feel challenged by the rapid ethnic and cultural change. A whole population of whites has gone from a clear majority to a clear minority in a very short time . . . and a lot of them simply say, ‘To hell with this,’ and move up the road.”
This feeling of being the beleaguered minority is creating among some a new consciousness of “white ethnicity,” and for those who see America’s future as a relatively harmonious multicultural state based on shared ideas of capitalism and freedom, this may not bode well.
For if whites do not want to share power and place, or if they feel increasingly shoved aside or overwhelmed in the cities and states with high immigration, they will continue to vote with their feet, by moving away, creating not a rainbow of citizens, but a more balkanized nation, with jobs, university enrollments, public spending, schools all seen through ethnic or racial prisms, including among whites.
Several of those interviewed complain that the politics of Miami-Dade are dominated by the issues of the newcomers, particularly the Cuban Americans, who wait for the fall of Fidel Castro; they see in the city hall, where a number of officials were recently indicted and convicted of taking kickbacks after it was discovered that the city was broke, a “banana republic” of ethnic cronyism; they dislike being referred to in Spanish media as “the Americans” by Miami’s Hispanic residents and politicians, as if they were the foreigners.
And many balk at the dominance of Spanish – on television, in official news conferences, on the radio, in schools and meetings and in their day-to-day lives. The movement of so many whites from Miami-Dade to Broward is viewed by many Hispanics as understandable, even natural, though hardly something to be encouraged.
“We had a tremendous exodus of Anglos, especially Anglos who did not feel comfortable with the new demographics of Miami, who were intimidated by the Spanish language and the influx of different people,” said Eduardo Padron, a Cuban American and president of the Miami Dade Community College. “It is a natural trend for them to move out. Many of them kept working in Miami, but they found refuge in Broward.”
Padron believes the rapidity of demographic changes, and the creation of a Hispanic majority, was “intimidating” for many whites, particularly those who did not speak any Spanish.
Some whites interviewed say they know they may seem like “whiners,” as one woman put it, but they feel they are not being met halfway by the newcomers, and this is an especially acute feeling in Miami, where Cuban Americans and other immigrants from Latin America now dominate the political landscape, serving as city and county mayors and council members. Both of Miami’s representatives to Congress are Cuban Americans.
Recent elections reveal that voters in Miami-Dade select candidates along stark racial and ethnic lines in classic bloc voting. The 1995 county mayor’s race, pitting Cuban American Alex Penelas against African American Arthur Teele, Jr., turned almost entirely on demographic lines, with exit polls showing that the overwhelming majority of Cuban Americans voted for Penelas, as most blacks voted for Teele. What did whites do? A lot of them did not vote at all.
Over the years, there has been sporadic, organized resistance by whites in Miami to hold back the changes. One group, calling itself Citizens of Dade United, was successful in passing a referendum in 1980 that declared English the “official language” of county government. But it was overturned in 1993. Enos Schera, who is a co-founder of the group and who is now 71, is still filled with vinegar, and says he refuses to move from Miami – though he says he and his group have received death threats.
“I’m staying to fight this crazy thing,” Schera said. “I’m not a bad guy, but I don’t want to be overrun. They come here and get all the advantages of being in America and then they insult you right on top of it.” He is writing a book about the changes. “That will tell all,” he promises.
But it seems as if Schera is fighting in retreat. He, and his group, have largely been relegated to the role of stubborn whites whose time is over.
Many of the others, like Weston resident Joanne Smith, have already left. “There’s no room for us in the discussion,” said Smith. “It’s like we were the oppressors.”
Smith says she likes to eat at Cuban restaurants, has Hispanic neighbors in Weston and admires the strength and striving of the newcomers. She herself is the granddaughter of immigrants, from Europe. But Smith feels the immigrants should try harder to understand the feelings of native Americans. “If they can survive coming here on a raft,” she says. “They can learn to speak English.”
Here at Weston, almost all of the communities are closed with security gates, requiring a visitor to punch a code or be cleared by a guard before entering the enclaves. In addition to the gates, a private security firm patrols the neighborhoods.
One researcher on the topic, Edward Blakely of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, says that gated communities like Weston’s are the fastest growing new developments around the country. Blakely deplores the trend, claiming it creates “fortress neighborhoods,” dividing citizens, creating walls between “us” and “them.”
But obviously, many home buyers like the concept, and many of the residents of Weston say one of the things they like most about the neighborhood is its sense of community, of safety and the ability of their children to ride their bicycles on the streets.
Yet the gates cannot keep demographic change at bay. Though two of every three residents in Weston is white, most of them in their thirties, about one in four are Hispanic. But these are the most assimilated, often second-generation, solidly middle-class Cuban Americans who come north for the same new schools and golf courses as the white migrants, allowing almost everyone to continue to live within their comfort zone.
But not all. As one three-year resident, who declined to give her name, observed, “I keep hearing more and more Spanish in the grocery store. I don’t know if they live here or are just working here. But I started to see some Spanish magazines for sale. Maybe I didn’t move far enough north.”
Special correspondent Catharine Skipp contributed to this report from Miami.
|America’s Racial and Ethnic Divides||
Immigrants Shunning Idea of Assimilation
| Maria Jacinto, with her husband, Aristeo, and one of their five children, speaks only Spanish. “When my skin turns white and my hair turns blonde, then I’ll be an American,” she says.
(By William Branigin
– The Washington Post)
Third in a series of occasional articles
By William Branigin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, May 25, 1998; Page A1
OMAHA – Night is falling on South Omaha, and Maria Jacinto is patting tortillas for the evening meal in the kitchen of the small house she shares with her husband and five children. Like many others in her neighborhood, where most of the residents are Mexican immigrants, the Jacinto household mixes the old country with the new.
As Jacinto, who speaks only Spanish, stresses a need to maintain the family’s Mexican heritage, her eldest son, a bilingual 11-year-old who wears a San Francisco 49ers jacket and has a paper route, comes in and joins his brothers and sisters in the living room to watch “The Simpsons.”
Jacinto became a U.S. citizen last April, but she does not feel like an American. In fact, she seems resistant to the idea of assimilating into U.S. society.
“I think I’m still a Mexican,” she says. “When my skin turns white and my hair turns blonde, then I’ll be an American.”
In many ways, the experiences of the Jacinto family are typical of the gradual process of assimilation that has pulled generations of immigrants into the American mainstream. That process is nothing new to Omaha, which drew waves of Czech, German and Irish immigrants early this century.
But in the current immigration wave, something markedly different is happening here in the middle of the great American “melting pot.”
Not only are the demographics of the United States changing in profound and unprecedented ways, but so too are the very notions of assimilation and the melting pot that have been articles of faith in the American self-image for generations. E Pluribus Unum (From Many, One) remains the national motto, but there no longer seems to be a consensus about what that should mean.
There is a sense that, especially as immigrant populations reach a critical mass in many communities, it is no longer the melting pot that is transforming them, but they who are transforming American society.
American culture remains a powerful force – for better or worse – that influences people both here and around the world in countless ways. But several factors have combined in recent years to allow immigrants to resist, if they choose, the Americanization that had once been considered irresistible.
In fact, the very concept of assimilation is being called into question as never before. Some sociologists argue that the melting pot often means little more than “Anglo conformity” and that assimilation is not always a positive experience – for either society or the immigrants themselves. And with today’s emphasis on diversity and ethnicity, it has become easier than ever for immigrants to avoid the melting pot entirely. Even the metaphor itself is changing, having fallen out of fashion completely with many immigration advocacy and ethnic groups. They prefer such terms as the “salad bowl” and the “mosaic,” metaphors that convey more of a sense of separateness in describing this nation of immigrants.
“It’s difficult to adapt to the culture here,” said Maria Jacinto, 32, who moved to the United States 10 years ago with her husband, Aristeo Jacinto, 36. “In the Hispanic tradition, the family comes first, not money. It’s important for our children not to be influenced too much by the gueros,” she said, using a term that means “blondies” but that she employs generally in reference to Americans. “I don’t want my children to be influenced by immoral things.”
Over the blare of the television in the next room, she asked, “Not all families here are like the Simpsons, are they?”
Among socially conservative families such as the Jacintos, who initially moved to California from their village in Mexico’s Guanajuato state, then migrated here in 1988 to find jobs in the meatpacking industry, bad influences are a constant concern. They see their children assimilating, but often to the worst aspects of American culture.
Her concerns reflect some of the complexities and ambivalence that mark the assimilation process these days. Immigrants such as the Jacintos are here to stay but remain wary of their adoptive country. According to sociologists, they are right to be concerned.
“If assimilation is a learning process, it involves learning good things and bad things,” said Ruben G. Rumbaut, a sociology professor at Michigan State University. “It doesn’t always lead to something better.”
At work, not only in Omaha but in immigrant communities across the country, is a process often referred to as “segmented” assimilation, in which immigrants follow different paths to incorporation in U.S. society. These range from the classic American ideal of blending into the vast middle class, to a “downward assimilation” into an adversarial underclass, to a buffered integration into “immigrant enclaves.” Sometimes, members of the same family end up taking sharply divergent paths, especially children and their parents.
The ambivalence of assimilation can cut both ways. Many native-born Americans also seem to harbor mixed feelings about the process. As a nation, the United States increasingly promotes diversity, but there are underlying concerns that the more emphasis there is on the factors that set people apart, the more likely that society will end up divided.
With Hispanics, especially Mexicans, accounting for an increasing proportion of U.S. population growth, it is this group, more than any other, that is redefining the melting pot.
Hispanics now have overtaken blacks as the largest minority group in Nebraska and will become the biggest minority in the country within the next seven years, according to Census Bureau projections. The nation’s 29 million Hispanics, the great majority of them from Mexico, have thus become the main focus for questions about how the United States today is assimilating immigrants, or how it is being transformed.
In many places, new Hispanic immigrants have tended to cluster in “niche” occupations, live in segregated neighborhoods and worship in separate churches. In this behavior they are much like previous groups of immigrants. But their heavy concentrations in certain parts of the country, their relatively close proximity to their native lands and their sheer numbers give this wave of immigrants an unprecedented potential to change the way the melting pot traditionally has worked.
Never before have so many immigrants come from a single country – Mexico – or from a single linguistic source-Spanish-speaking Latin America. Since 1970, more than half of the estimated 20 million foreign-born people who have settled in the United States, legally and illegally, have been Spanish speakers.
Besides sheer numbers, several factors combine to make this influx unprecedented in the history of American immigration. This is the first time that such large numbers of people are immigrating from a contiguous country. And since most have flowed into relatively few states, congregating heavily in the American Southwest, Mexican Americans have the capacity to develop much greater cohesion than previous immigrant groups. Today Hispanics, mostly of Mexican origin, make up 31 percent of the population of California and 28 percent of the population of Texas.
In effect, that allows Mexican Americans to “perpetuate themselves as a separate community and even strengthen their sense of separateness if they chose to, or felt compelled to,” said David M. Kennedy, a professor of American history at Stanford University.
To be sure, assimilation today often follows the same pattern that it has for generations. The children of immigrants, especially those who were born in the United States or come here at a young age, tend to learn English quickly and adopt American habits. Often they end up serving as translators for their parents. Schools exert an important assimilating influence, as does America’s consumer society.
But there are important differences in the way immigrants adapt these days, and the influences on them can be double-edged. Gaps in income, education and poverty levels between new immigrants and the native-born are widening, and many of the newcomers are becoming stuck in dead-end jobs with little upward mobility.
In L.A., a Sense of Future Conflicts
| Hilda Bueno leaves the Martin Luther King Jr. Medical Center in South Central Los Angeles with her son Jose Manuel Cuevas, 2.
(By Todd Bigelow for The Washington Post)
Second in a series of occasional articles
By Michael A. Fletcher
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 7, 1998; Page A1
LOS ANGELES – Two pictures hanging in the lobby of Martin Luther King Jr. Medical Center offer silent testimony to a view shared by many blacks here that the hospital was built by and for African Americans.
King hospital rose from the ashes of the 1965 riots, a belated answer to the long-ignored complaint that the county’s white-run health system neglected the black community. Before the facility opened in 1972, there was no public hospital in predominantly black South Central Los Angeles.
But the regal visages of the slain civil rights leader and black county Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke now overlook a new, often disconcerting reality: Most of the patients and visitors in the hospital are Latino, not black. Many are holding conversations in Spanish. And increasingly, they are pressing the hospital to hire doctors and other top staff members who look and talk like them – a demand Latino leaders say is met largely with indifference, if not indignation, from the hospital’s black managers and its political patrons.
“At King, you now have a black island in a brown sea,” said Rees Lloyd, a lawyer for an Indian American doctor who alleges he was continuously passed over for promotions because he is not black. “A lot of people are uncomfortable with that.”
The change rumbling through King hospital is just a fraction of the fallout from a seismic shift in the racial makeup of Los Angeles County. In 1960, four out of five people in the county were white. But a wave of immigration has transformed the jurisdiction into one where no ethnic or racial group holds the majority. The county’s population of 9.5 million is now 41 percent Hispanic, 37 percent white, 11 percent Asian and 10 percent black. The Latino and Asian populations each have more than doubled in the past 20 years, dramatically altering the dynamics of race here.
Just over a decade ago, the broad swath of the county popularly known as South Central was synonymous with black Los Angeles. But now middle-class African Americans are leaving, often dispersing to communities that once were all white. Asian Americans, who once congregated in enclaves near downtown, are moving into suburban communities that ring L.A. Meanwhile, many non-Hispanic whites are often relocating to even more distant suburbs or leaving California altogether.
What is happening here represents the leading edge of racial and ethnic changes affecting communities across America. Demographers predict that by the middle of the next century the nation as a whole will look much like Los Angeles does now: a rich tapestry of people whose sheer diversity makes once familiar notions of racial interaction obsolete.
“Politicians like to say that diversity is our greatest strength,” said Ron Wakabayashi, executive director of the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations. “That is b.s. Diversity simply is. The core question is how do we extract its assets while minimizing its liabilities?”
To be sure, the new immigrants have renewed old neighborhoods, created new businesses and enriched the culture of Los Angeles. But the exploding diversity also has changed the nature of racial conflict and drawn new groups into battles that once were waged almost exclusively between blacks and whites. Here, black and Latino civil servants square off over public jobs. Blacks activists and Asian store owners fight over control of local businesses. And Latino and Asian gangs battle for control of their turf.
This new reality fuels the racial isolation evident in many walks of life here. Researchers have found deep racial divisions in the Los Angeles job market – partly the result of discrimination but reinforced because people typically find jobs through personal connections that most often do not cross racial or ethnic lines. Many of the furniture factories in South Central have only Latino workers. The toy factories near downtown employ mainly Chinese. Many of the small grocery stores are owned and run by Koreans. And African Americans disproportionately work in government jobs, where they are desperately trying to hold their place in the face of fierce competition from Latinos who want in.
Biggest Bigots: Often, It’s Minorities
As Los Angeles is learning, minorities are often quick to embrace negative racial stereotypes of one another. A poll by the National Conference, a nonprofit organization that promotes racial dialogue, found that minorities tend to share bitter feelings toward whites, whom they call bigoted and bossy. But the national survey found that minorities often harbored even harsher views of one another.
Nearly half of Latinos and 40 percent of African Americans agree that Asian Americans are “unscrupulous, crafty and devious in business.” Only one in four whites agrees with that statement. More than two out of three Asian Americans and half of African Americans and whites believe Latinos tend to “have bigger families than they are able to support.” Meanwhile, Latinos are almost three times as likely as whites to believe that blacks “aren’t capable of getting ahead” even if given the opportunity, the poll found.
Those attitudes contribute to the friction that often marks racial interaction in Los Angeles. Rather than prompting people to come together, the more common reality of the new diversity is people living separate lives in often vibrant but segregated communities. In Los Angeles, there are suburban developments, such as Monterey Park, that are almost exclusively Chinese. There is a Little Saigon and enclaves of Samoans and Hmong and Russians and Iranians.
And when people from diverse backgrounds find themselves thrust together in the same neighborhoods, the same jobs or the same schools, the result can often be conflict.
Nowhere is that more vivid than in the county’s South Central corridor, where the number of Latinos is overwhelming the African American population. Much as blacks demanded a fairer share of the power and resources from whites a generation ago, Latinos are now demanding that blacks and others share jobs, special school programs and political control. And like whites before them, many African Americans feel threatened by those demands.
“Latinos have their own. Blacks have their own,” said Royce Esters, former president of the NAACP branch that includes Compton, a city in the South Central corridor. “It’s a power play. Blacks feel like they have marched and marched and the Latinos have not marched. As a result, blacks are afraid of another race coming in and taking something they have worked so hard to get.”
For much of its history, Compton was a virtually all-white suburb of Los Angeles, where segregation was enforced with racist attacks and laws that barred African Americans from buying homes. A 1948 Supreme Court decision lifted the legal barriers, but the acceptance of African Americans was slow and difficult. The first blacks who dared venture to Compton were greeted with white hostility: Paint was smeared on their homes, flower gardens were uprooted, crosses were burned on their lawns.
But blacks persevered and by the 1960s had established a racial majority. When they finally wrested political control of Compton from whites in the 1960s, that ascendancy became a source of racial pride, with residents boasting that Compton was the largest black-run city west of the Mississippi.
Blacks Face a New Challenge
Now, three decades later, an extraordinary wave of immigration has pushed Latinos into the majority in Compton, except in the corridors of power. Blacks still control the mayor’s office, the city council, all but one school board seat and four out of five municipal jobs in Compton. Just as a generation ago blacks questioned that kind of white domination, blacks find themselves being challenged by Latino demands for power.
The long-simmering tension boiled over in 1994 when a black Compton police officer was caught on videotape beating Latino teenager Felipe Soltero. The incident angered Latinos in Compton much the same way as the bludgeoning of black motorist Rodney G. King by white police officers incensed African Americans. The incident pushed the city toward the edge of rioting, and resulted in a civil suit against the officer. The officer was found to have violated Soltero’s rights but the youth was awarded only $1 in damages by a federal judge after a racially mixed jury refused to award anything.
“It was kind of like the first Rodney King trial,” said Danilo Becerra, Soltero’s lawyer. “I’ve never seen a more blatant example of injustice.”
Latino leaders in Compton call the outcome of that case one small manifestation of the disparities that routinely go unaddressed by the city’s black leadership. Nearly two-thirds of the city’s 29,000 public school students are Latino but less than 10 percent of its teaching staff is. There are separate chamber of commerces, one for Latinos and one for blacks. But only the group with black members receives city funds. “As far as I can tell, everything in this city is directed to the blacks,” said John Ortega, a longtime Compton resident. “Not so long ago, [school officials] even took a load of students to Africa. … I sure don’t see them going to Mexico.”
In few places has the tension between blacks and Latinos emerged more vividly than in the pitched racial battle occurring at King hospital, a linchpin in the nation’s second largest public health care system.
From the beginning, King was more than a medical center for many blacks in South Central, who felt their forebears had fought – and died – to see it built.
A Flurry of Activism
It was what many saw as the unnecessary death of a black man that brought the need for the hospital into sharp focus. In 1966, Leonard Deadwyler ran several lights as he sped his pregnant wife toward the closest county hospital 20 miles away. He was stopped by police and a confrontation ensued. Deadwyler was shot and killed. Police said Deadwyler was drunk and acting irrationally, a claim refuted by his widow and her attorney, Johnnie L. Cochran Jr.
Many in South Central were convinced that Deadwyler would not have died that day if the neighborhood had had its own hospital. That galvanized a flurry of protest and activism that culminated in the construction of King and the adjoining Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science.
Los Angles County may have built King, but for much of its history it has been run largely by blacks who view it as the fruit of their protest and subsequent empowerment. Now, to many others attempting to gain a foothold in the new South Central, that pride often resembles the racial bias that blacks so vigorously fought when it was being dished out by whites.
‘Let Us Get Our Fair Share’
Dr. Subramaniam Balasubramaniam began working as acting head of King’s busy emergency room two decades ago, passing up other jobs to follow what he saw as his calling to work in a poor community. After six years in an acting role, he was offered the job permanently, under the condition that he appoint a black doctor to be his eventual successor.
Balasubramaniam, who is from India, said his African American bosses explained that he had to hire a black vice chair because King is a “black hospital.” But Balasubramaniam refused, citing the inexperience of the doctor hospital officials wanted him to hire, according to a 1995 Civil Service Commission opinion.
For that, he paid. Balasubramaniam was stripped of his title, which was given to a black doctor a few months later. Balasubramaniam’s duties remained the same, but he was passed over for numerous other promotions. Finally, in 1991, the hospital hired a veteran white surgeon to be its first permanent chief of emergency medicine, but only after he agreed to groom a young black doctor to eventually assume the post.
Eventually, the white chief was removed and a black doctor took his place. Balasubramaniam was never considered for the job he had held for years because hospital officials said he was “unqualified.”
Balasubramaniam filed a complaint with the county’s Civil Service Commission, which found that King followed an “unwritten policy of reserving leadership positions for blacks, to the exclusion of non-blacks.”
This was one of a series of discrimination complaints, including several by Latinos, that eventually led a federal agency to order the county to increase its recruitment, hiring and promotion of Latinos across its health care system.
“What they found as far as Latino workers go is similar to findings you’d have found in Alabama years ago to how African Americans were treated,” said Alan Clayton, a researcher for the Los Angeles County Chicano Employees Association. “We’re not trying to replace anybody. We’re just trying to say ‘let us get our fair share’ [of county jobs].”
Others have filed successful complaints against King. And many of the rulings in favor of Latinos and other non-blacks who worked at King have left some African American officials fuming. They say that Latinos finger them for discrimination but ignore similar treatment at the hands of whites. They point to statistics showing that other county hospitals, including the sprawling County-USC hospital in heavily Latino East Los Angeles, have overwhelmingly white physician and management staffs – yet that fact, they say, draws little scrutiny from Latino leaders.
“Blacks have bent over backward to accommodate Latinos, but we remain easy targets,” said Clyde Johnson, president of the Los Angeles County Black Employees Association. “Blacks are open-minded, very caring and sympathetic people.” But, he added, “We don’t think [Latino] progress should come out of our hides.”
‘We Don’t Understand Each Other’
Yet if blacks are clinging to health care and government as their place of employment, many immigrants are claiming their own niches while keeping blacks – and everyone else – out. Many low-skill jobs such as janitors, gardeners and light factory workers are dominated by recent immigrants, often with Mexicans, Vietnamese or Koreans claiming specific slices of the job market.
In 1990, Francisco Pinedo launched Cisco Brothers Corp., a manufacturer of upscale, upholstered furniture. The factory began in a garage and had only three employees. But as business picked up Pinedo quickly expanded, almost exclusively hiring people he knew or people referred by his employees.
After several years of stunning growth, he had a large work force, but one that was almost entirely Latino. “A lot of the hiring they did was word-of-mouth,” said Yvette Nunez, director of operations for the Community Development Technologies Center in Los Angeles. “That is something we found in doing surveys with a lot of the manufacturers that have almost entirely Latino work forces. They hire through personal networks.”
At the urging of economic development officials, Pinedo began advertising some of his openings in the newspaper. But, while his 15-person management team has three non-Latinos, virtually all of the 100 manufacturing jobs in his South Central plant are filled by Latinos.
“Pretty much the entire upholstery industry is 99 percent Hispanics,” said Pinedo, whose firm now does $10 million a year in sales. “I put ads in, but don’t get much response from African Americans. Besides, it helps to hire people who someone knows. It gives you more references. You don’t have to worry about not knowing who these people are.”
The tensions between racial and ethnic groups are often compounded by the fact that residents of the area do not even share the same base of information. Greater Los Angeles has more than 50 foreign language newspapers and television shows broadcast not only in Spanish but in Mandarin, Armenian, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese.
“We don’t understand each other because of the cultural and language barriers,” said Kapson Lee, an editor at the Korean Times, a 100,000-circulation Korean language daily. “And the mainstream press has no ongoing relationship with us. They just come here when some unfortunate incident happens and scramble for a sound bite or some piece of information out of nowhere. It is disgusting.”
In 1991, when a Korean shopkeeper fatally shot a 15-year-old black girl in the back of the head during a dispute over a $1.79 bottle of orange juice, the Korean and black press handled the story in distinctly different ways. Korean papers ran a stream of stories about the daily harassment faced by Korean merchants. At one point, one Korean paper kept a running tally of the number of merchants who were assaulted in their stores.
The black press ran stories about the suspicion and general disrespect law-abiding customers often faced when they ventured into Korean-owned stores in their own neighborhoods.
And when the shop owner was convicted of manslaughter but got off with a light sentence of probation and a $500 fine, the reaction was predictable: many Koreans applauded the sentence, while many African Americans saw it as another example of the injustice that they endured for years to the benefit of whites.
“People don’t see their common purpose,” said Wakabayashi, of the county human relations commission. “It seems like everybody has a different bad guy.”