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Just Neighbors?

Just Neighbors?: Research on African American and Latino Relations in the United States

Edward Telles
Mark Q. Sawyer
Gaspar Rivera-Salgado
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 388
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  • Book Info
    Just Neighbors?
    Book Description:

    Blacks and Latinos have transformed the American city—together these groups now constitute the majority in seven of the ten largest cities. Large-scale immigration from Latin America has been changing U.S. racial dynamics for decades, and Latino migration to new destinations is changing the face of the American south. Yet most of what social science has helped us to understand about these groups has been observed primarily in relation to whites—not each other. Just Neighbors? challenges the traditional black/white paradigm of American race relations by examining African Americans and Latinos as they relate to each other in the labor market, the public sphere, neighborhoods, and schools. The book shows the influence of race, class, and received stereotypes on black-Latino social interactions and offers insight on how finding common ground may benefit both groups. From the labor market and political coalitions to community organizing, street culture, and interpersonal encounters, Just Neighbors? analyzes a spectrum of Latino-African American social relations to understand when and how these groups cooperate or compete. Contributor Frank Bean and his co-authors show how the widely held belief that Mexican immigration weakens job prospects for native-born black workers is largely unfounded—especially as these groups are rarely in direct competition for jobs. Michael Jones-Correa finds that Latino integration beyond the traditional gateway cities promotes seemingly contradictory feelings: a sense of connectedness between the native minority and the newcomers but also perceptions of competition. Mark Sawyer explores the possibilities for social and political cooperation between the two groups in Los Angeles and finds that lingering stereotypes among both groups, as well as negative attitudes among blacks about immigration, remain powerful but potentially surmountable forces in group relations. Regina Freer and Claudia Sandoval examine how racial and ethnic identity impacts coalition building between Latino and black youth and find that racial pride and a sense of linked fate encourages openness to working across racial lines. Black and Latino populations have become a majority in the largest U.S. cities, yet their combined demographic dominance has not abated both groups’ social and economic disadvantage in comparison to whites. Just Neighbors? lays a much-needed foundation for studying social relations between minority groups. This trailblazing book shows that, neither natural allies nor natural adversaries, Latinos and African Americans have a profound potential for coalition-building and mutual cooperation. They may well be stronger together rather than apart.

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-753-9
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Contributors
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-34)
    Edward Telles, Gaspar Rivera-Salgado, Mark Q. Sawyer and Sylvia Zamora

    The dominant paradigm of American race relations has changed dramatically in the last two decades, as the prevailing white-black binary model is being challenged by recent large-scale immigration, mostly from Latin America. The size of the Latino¹ or Hispanic population has now surpassed that of the African American population and it will probably be double the size of the black population by 2050. Latinos now make up about 15 percent of the American population (and Mexicans in turn make up the largest majority of Latinos) and are projected to increase to 25 percent by 2050. In comparison,African Americans make up...


    • CHAPTER 1 Immigration and Labor Market Dynamics
      (pp. 37-60)
      Frank D. Bean, James D. Bachmeier, Susan K. Brown and Rosaura Tafoya-Estrada

      By several indications, anti-immigrant sentiment—long an undercurrent in American social history—most recently resurfaced in the mid-2000s. One indicator was adamant opposition to further immigration on the part of an increasingly vociferous minority, anywhere from one-fifth to one-quarter of those polled in public opinion surveys (Jacoby 2006). A second was Congress’s voting down bipartisan immigrant-friendly proposals for immigration reform in 2007. A third was the emergence in 2008 of several candidates for high-level federal and state offices who sought to ride the crest of negative attitudes toward newcomers to political victory (Brown, Bean, and Bachmeier 2009). Although such candidates...


    • CHAPTER 2 Commonalities, Competition, and Linked Fate
      (pp. 63-95)
      Michael Jones-Correa

      Over the last three decades the Hispanic population in the United States has changed significantly. Compare, for instance, the census figures for 1980 and 2000: in 1980, this population was over-whelmingly native born, but by 2000 over 40 percent foreign born, and if one looks only at adults, over 60 percent. Second, in 1980, 90 percent of all Latinos lived in five states. In 2008, although these five states still held the majority of the Latino population, not even the top fifteen held 90 percent. Over the last two decades Latinos have become increasingly an immigrant population, increasingly diverse in...

    • CHAPTER 3 Perceptions of Competition
      (pp. 96-124)
      Jason L. Morin, Gabriel R. Sanchez and Matt A. Barreto

      The demographics of the United States are undergoing significant changes, largely based on the rapid growth and dispersion of the Latino population.¹ Between 1990 and 2000, for example, the Latino population grew from approximately 22 million to 35 million, an increase of 57.9 percent (Guzman 2001). Today, the number of Latinos living in the United States is estimated at nearly 45 million, and in the coming years an additional 67 million are expected to emigrate from Latin America (Passel and Cohn 2008). Subsequently, demographers project the Latino population to approximate 438 million by 2050 (Passel and Cohn 2008). It is...

    • CHAPTER 4 Elite Messages and Perceptions of Commonality
      (pp. 125-152)
      Kevin Wallsten and Tatishe M. Nteta

      Like much of the twentieth century, the first decade of the twenty-first witnessed a number of conflicts between African Americans and Latinos over scarce resources such as private- and public-sector employment, political power, schools, and housing. Many of these conflicts took place in America’s urban centers, which have experienced a number of divisive and at times violent incidents involving African Americans and Latinos in city council meetings, school board gatherings, and political campaigns (McClain and Karnig 1990; Meier and Stewart 1991; Meier et al. 2004; Vaca 2004).

      Unsurprisingly, the evolving relationship between the Latino and African American communities has attracted...


    • CHAPTER 5 Intergroup Perceptions and Relations in Houston
      (pp. 155-176)
      Nestor Rodriguez and Tatcho Mindiola Jr.

      A major development in U.S. society at the beginning of the twenty-first century concerns the racial and ethnic recomposition of many communities across the country, attributable primarily to immigration. One dimension of this change is the simultaneously growing concentration of African Americans and Latinos in the same urban areas. In several of the largest cities (New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and the like), for example, the combined population of Hispanics and African Americans is now the majority. Natural population growth in both groups and high immigration levels in the former are contributing to this development. Out-migration of non-Latino whites to...

    • CHAPTER 6 Politics in Los Angeles
      (pp. 177-198)
      Mark Q. Sawyer

      African Americans and Latinos in Los Angeles are increasingly occupying the same space. Traditionally African American, South Los Angeles has in recent years become a majority Latino area. As a result, school populations are changing and African Americans and Latinos are interacting everywhere else as well, from churches to prisons (Dzidzienyo and Oboler 2005). When considering how collective action might change attitudes among African Americans and Latinos beyond the context of economic competition, the political realm cannot be neglected (Waldinger and Bozorgmehr 1996). Although much research has been done on black-white ethnic relations in neighborhoods, relations between African Americans and...


    • CHAPTER 7 Intergroup Relations in Three Southern Cities
      (pp. 201-241)
      Paula D. McClain, Gerald F. Lackey, Efrén O. Pérez, Niambi M. Carter, Jessica Johnson Carew, Eugene Walton Jr., Candis Watts Smith, Monique L. Lyle and Shayla C. Nunnally

      Immigration to the United States soared between the 1990 and 2000 censuses and continued at high rates between 2000 and 2007, resulting in significant demographic shifts in some regions of the country. Most of this increase is Latino, and the region most affected is the South. A number of southern states—North Carolina, Alabama, and Georgia—reported substantial increases in their Latino populations from 1990 to 2000 (U.S. Bureau of the Census 2000a). Many saw even greater growth between 2000 and 2007. North Carolina, for example, experienced a 68.8 percent increase, from 377,084 in 2000 to 636,442 in 2007, and...

    • CHAPTER 8 Black Attitudes and Hispanic Immigrants in South Carolina
      (pp. 242-264)
      Monica McDermott

      Blacks and Latinos have developed a complicated set of relationships in a variety of arenas in urban areas scattered across the Northeast, Midwest, and Southwest. However, the arrival of a large Latino (or Hispanic, as it is locally termed) population in the Southeast is causing such interracial relationships to be largely negotiated anew. As one might imagine, the process is far from simple—in a region long dominated by the black-white color line, the presence of a new group can destabilize ethnic relations, though not necessarily Latino attitudes toward the native born (see chapter 2, this volume). Consequently, different segments...


    • CHAPTER 9 Black, Brown, Young, and Together
      (pp. 267-298)
      Regina M. Freer and Claudia Sandoval Lopez

      As blacks and Latinos¹ increasingly interact in social, economic, and political contexts across the country, many ponder the circumstances required for these two groups, often tied so closely by objective conditions, to work together to improve their lives. What are the circumstances that increase the likelihood they will cooperate and coalesce rather than engage in conflict? This chapter tackles the question by examining relationships between black and Latino youth, specifically querying whether any connection exists between how youth feel and think about their own racial-ethnic group and their willingness to form alliances across racial-ethnic group lines.

      If formation of cooperative...

    • CHAPTER 10 Framing Commonality in a Multiracial, Multiethnic Coalition
      (pp. 299-322)
      Sylvia Zamora

      Many African Americans and Latinos live under similar socioeconomic conditions in neighborhoods across the country; however, experiencing similar treatment by society at large is not a sufficient condition for creating a sense of commonality or building sustainable alliances across racial lines. Perceptions of black-Latino relations are shaped by many factors, including the media, political elites, and community organizations, each employing varying frames for interpreting black and Latino relations. Most prominent are media frames, which single out Latino antiblack racism and gang violence as the culprit of black-Latino tension on the one hand, and African American anti-immigrant sentiments stemming from a...


    • CHAPTER 11 Ethnic Succession and Ethnic Conflict
      (pp. 325-342)

      In recent years observers have noted the possibility of a widespread black and brown conflict in Los Angeles’s inner-city gang neighborhoods.¹ Generally, these commentators claim that the basis for the hostility and antagonism stems from race and racism, that aggressive and violent acts and actions are sparked by the skin color that differentiates one group from the other. Print and television accounts mostly underscore the race card even though other factors might be at work. For example, any specific episode might easily stem from youthful exuberance, perceived neighborhood boundary violations, drug turf contentions, a personal vendetta, a case of mistaken...

    • CHAPTER 12 Conflict, Cooperation, and Avoidance
      (pp. 343-362)
      Cid Martinez and Victor M. Rios

      This study compares black-Latino gang relations in two California cities that have seen a similar demographic transformation in the past twenty years: Latino immigrants settling in traditionally black neighborhoods. Our thesis is that avoidance is the dominant outcome in black-Latino social relations in marginalized urban communities. We examine two other processes, conflict and cooperation, and find that despite the almost exclusive focus of the media and researchers on conflict or cooperation when examining African American and Latino relations, these outcomes are rare in everyday life among the youths we studied. Gangs are ideal case studies because their members frequent the...

  11. Index
    (pp. 363-378)