Growing up in a community that is 90% Hispanic, I have been witness to the many unfortunate lifestyles that they experience. My own family has also had its share of financial, drug and gang problems and because most Hispanics, like my family, are lower to lower-middle class, the neighborhoods they live in are not ideal. Much like the neighborhoods that many African Americans live in, which I later learned when I began going to school at Purdue University. I’m currently majoring in African American Studies and in the classes alone I have seen how African Americans and Hispanics tend to segregate themselves from the rest of the class, sitting together on the opposite side of the Caucasian students. When speaking on cultural or political situations, the Black and Hispanic students often agree on many of the burdens that spoil their communities. It’s not unusual in either community to see teenage mothers, single parent families, to experience stereotypes at their worst, or to lose a loved one to jail, drugs or death due to various criminal activities. Often the families have similar financial and housing circumstances, living with extended family in the projects or ghettos, so they understand each other on a higher level when addressing values in family, respect, religion, and hard work. This experience has taught me that African Americans and Hispanics, being the growing minorities in the United States, should come together as a group to address the issues they both face on a daily basis in their communities. Young African Americans and Hispanics have already come to an understanding that they are both minorities and have many of the same disadvantages. To my experience, going to a university where the majority is White and Asian, African American and Hispanic students have brought it upon themselves to form a unity as a single minority. While this grouping of the two minorities is not necessarily geared toward fixing the problems they face, it can be brought to their attention that by forming this unity they will have more power in making a difference both politically and culturally for their communities. It can also be brought to the attention of the Latino and Black Cultural Centers that by unifying the two communities they can work to do the same for other universities around the United States. Inviting successful African American and Hispanic government and community leaders to speak at seminars held at either center at the university would help in creating that understanding of influence to make changes for both ethnicities. And once that understanding is made the students can extend what they’ve learned out to the surrounding communities.The existing programs that I have been exposed to in my own city are geared toward helping the large Hispanic population to make a greater difference in the community when it comes to post education and career paths for young Hispanics. I am not aware of such programs for African Americans in my city however, they do exist in larger urban areas. By bringing these programs to recognize the significance they play in the lives of the people, student or not, that participate in them, they can connect with the Cultural centers of the universities to strengthen the union of the African American and Hispanic populations. The historically Black colleges and universities, in my perspective, already have an advantage in assisting the African American community by creating the positive outlook for post education with its scholarships, grants, and other various programs that aid in paying for their tuition. As before mentioned Hispanics, as well as Afro-Hispanics, have the same disadvantages getting into a college or university because of financial, family or living situations. By opening their educational resources to the Hispanic and Afro-Hispanic communities the Black colleges or universities would be helping in filling the existing gap that separates the three minorities. Creating more scholarships and encouraging the Hispanic and Afro-Hispanic communities to apply would open doors to a better education and a stronger unification of the African American, Hispanic, and Afro-Hispanic populations.
"African American & Hispanic Unity" Essay Contest
As an African American and Mexican American woman I sometimes find myself in situations in which I must choose a side to take in debates among my friends, or in politics, or in social settings when the Black community and Hispanic community are pitted against each other. I am forced to choose a side, but why must this be so? Why must I be forced to choose a side in a dispute amongst two fellow minority groups? Would it not be best for the two minority groups to join together, to help each other against the majority? African Americans and Hispanics in the United States need to work together to “address political, cultural, communication, and community issues” because united both groups create a forceful power base, whilst divided they are weakened and produce more obstacles for each other.
Both the African American and Hispanic communities need to realize that they are fighting for much of the same things. They both desire equality, representation in government, cultural identity, and a strong united community. Yet it is interesting just how much each group battles over who is the most significant minority group. Would it not make more sense for both groups to unify and stand up together for what they want? This in fact is the first step to strengthening the relationship between the Black and Hispanic communities: cease battling each other and realize the similarities shared among each group. The campaign for justice in America for African Americans and Hispanics is an arduous one, and it must constantly be waged for if not there is a very real possibility that the majority will have complete control over the minority. However, with a combination of two minority groups fighting the same battle, the campaign becomes less arduous for the combination’s hand wields more power against the majority.
The second step to strengthening the relationship between the two communities is that individuals need to be made aware of the other group’s plight; they need to be made aware that one group’s plight is not worse or better than the other’s, for Blacks as well as Hispanics have faced a plethora of hardships in this country. I have spoken with friends of both the Black community and the Hispanic community and they relay their problems as if they were the most important and then dismiss the problems of the other group as insignificant. As a member of both communities I know that no one group’s problems are more or less important, and as soon as individuals begin to recognize that, the two communities will not need to be pitted against each other, they can be united together.
Historically Black Colleges and Universities have done a laudable job of supporting the black community, they have consistently and continuously supported African Americans and their goals. And although HBCUs have helped tremendously in bringing in more and more African Americans into the academic world, the help needs to carry on, for not only do HBCUs advance individuals in the academic arena they provide a sense of community, they provide a safe place for Blacks to be among their peers, to freely express themselves, and that needs to continue in order to give the community strength to endure in their fight for justice. And all HBCUs need do for these things to endure is to keep their doors open. All they need do is continue accepting black students into their halls. Now, if these powerhouses of support could lend some support to the Hispanic/ Afro-Hispanic communities, not only would the Hispanic community be reinforced, but a bond would also be created between the African American and Hispanic communities.
In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., “All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality.” The African American and Hispanic communities “are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality,” and thus need to help each other in their battles for social and political justice and equality. Unified both groups are strong, divided they are weak.
It is important for Black Americans to reestablish a sense of community in order to promote our race to be highly in tuned with our heritage and culture, and to bring more respect to our race as a race that is highly intellectual and strongly influential in this country and in the world in its entirety. As a race, Black Americans should go beyond just being socio-economically connected and band together as a community and as a culture to uplift each other as to ensure our future as a race whose impact on the world can not be overlooked. Black Americans should not only stick together when seeking business gains but also when raising a child and pushing ourselves mentally in education. As the old proverb states, “It takes a village to raise a child,” and to ensure the appropriate development of our youth we need to act as one village not a group of individuals looking out for themselves but a village looking out for all that are in their community as well as others. There should not just be a high amount of praise given to musicians and entertainers but also to the inventors and entrepreneurs to allow for our youth to look upon a wide variety of options and careers for them to embark upon when they grow up. In addition, negative characteristics and situations of Black Americans in the past has served to discredit our race as a whole and put a negative connotation next to the name of a Black American. Negative facts about Black Americans are being preyed upon by people looking to show how Black Americans are inferior to Whites or other races. But this is not true! Although we can not physically stop people from voicing this downbeat view of our race, we can prove them wrong by changing the typical pessimistic facts about our race that have become characteristic of our people. Such as in the case of the number of Black Americans in jail or missing a father figure in their home. However this can all change by uplifting the providence of having a high education and being more involved in our community as a way to combat the commonplace of having drugs and the police prominently seen in our communities. Tools such as the internet are largely at our disposal to be used positively. The internet is one of the fastest ways to communicate information to a large array of people in a short amount of time. Sites such as MySpace, Facebook, and HBCU Connect can be used to spread information around to people in the community easily. These sites are free to use and are immensely efficient. Voting information can be passed around through these sites to inform people of upcoming elections, where to vote, among other useful information such as community cultural events. To add, colleges HBCU’s should encourage and support Blacks and Hispanics to enter their colleges and ascribe to attain a degree. For this would ensure that Blacks and other minorities keep education at the top of their priority lists and see that through education they can achieve their goals in life. Colleges and universities are apart of the communities set in place for our race where the rules and ideologies held in the village should still be practiced and emphasized at the schools because it is important in the development our people.
Virginia G. Parra
1 June 2007
2. What can be done to strengthen the relationship between the African American and Hispanic communities living within the United States.
A relationship of any sort consists of a support system made up of trust, love, friendship, guidance and unconditional motivation. Relationships exist at all levels – within the family, at the workplace, one’s circle of friends and in specific locations, be it a home, a school, office or public park. Communities thrive on relationships; without the unity of its residents, workers and students, progress cannot be made. This is a call to the growing African-American and Hispanic communities throughout the United States to create and cement lasting bonds.
Relationships are not always sunshine and smiles, they can get ugly at times. The relationship between African Americans and Hispanics is one of slow progression. The history behind these communities has been marked by violence, alienation and prejudice. Both communities share similar pasts yet the breach between the African American and Hispanic neighborhoods continues to exist here in my own city and throughout the United States. As I finish my first year at college, I take into account how much I have learned about Los Angeles in relation to its residents and surrounding communities, especially their growing African American and Hispanic representation. This representation is now extending in numbers to include higher percentages of Hispanics and African Americans residing in the U.S, an increase college attendance and higher education. Yet, I am witness to the unstable relationship between both minority groups – though both are making successes each day, these successes are separate from each other. If only we could improve the communication within both groups, we could double our successes within the U.S.
Communication is a key factor that predicts how successful any relationship can be. If communication between both African Americans and Hispanics occurred, hostility towards one other can decrease as both groups realize how much they truly have in common. By improving their relations and day to day interactions Hispanic and African American communities can learn from one another and can help each other move forward. Communication thus extends to telling one another about opportunities within the community and outside of it – through this mode of contact we can help improve our literacy rates, the number of students attending school, promote higher education and HIV/AIDS awareness.
A relationship also needs a foundation of friendship in order for it to continue to grow. This means that African Americans and Hispanics should get to know each other at a deeper level and unite in the face of daily discrimination and immigration laws. Nothing is gained while standing alone. As Senator John Kerry said “I still believe America’s destiny is to become a living testament to what free human beings can accomplish by acting in unity.” It is up to us and our generation to prove that we can accomplish and sustain such unities; time can only prove our success.
Change cannot occur overnight, it’s a gradual process but one that nevertheless can lead both African American and Hispanic communities to a better future. With the support of its neighbors, both of these communities can learn to better understand each other by communicating their frustrations, hopes and dreams. Though I wish that this relationship can occur rapidly, as a realist I know that relationships are fragile and need time to grow. Time can only prove to us that through continuous attempts and communication, the African American and Hispanic communities can grow together.
Believe it or not, the African-American and the Hispanic communities share common socio-economic characteristics. According to SAT Registration - SAT Scores - College Search - College Admissions, both communities share a similar statistic which reflects that the average 4-year university student body consists of 15-20% of African-Americans and Hispanics. Both communities also shared a similar number in the voter turn-out for the 2004 presidential election with 35% of the votes from African-Americans and 30% of the votes from Hispanics. Sadly, African-Americans and Hispanics represent a majority in the number of incarcerations as well as climbing poverty rates. Historically, African-Americans and Hispanics have both experienced some level of repression. Whether one considers the legacy of slavery or periods of colonialism and imperialism, these communities have overcome centuries of subjugation. Given their respective pasts, it simply makes sense for African-Americans and Hispanics to work together for the advancement of the community as a whole. However, it appears that over time both communities have instead distanced themselves. When people of one community take time to learn about the culture and heritage of another, what they gain in exchange can prove to be invaluable in strengthening a distant relationship. Through local church outings, national organizations, schools, and even local community meetings the African American and Hispanic communities can strengthen ties and become socially aware and culturally educated. Many people say that it takes a community to raise a child. Each community member can teach a child invaluable information that will prepare him or her for the future. It begins with the nuclear family and extends to the classroom and different organizations that members of each community can interact with and learn from. Through education, the limits are endless for children. Uniting African-Americans and Hispanics early in their developments can foster a very knowledgeable and cultural young adult. It would be satisfying to hear a young African-American discussing the fascinating murals of Diego Rivera or a young Hispanic reciting the profound “I Have a Dream” speech from Martin Luther King Jr., as if it were natural to them. By simply understanding each community’s respective culture, one can see what makes their individuality and identity so special. A single person or a single organization alone cannot strengthen this distant relationship between the African-Americans and Hispanics. It requires a collective effort and contribution from local church outings, schools, including one’s household. These members can have a direct impact in strengthening the relationship because of the closeness and faith people have in their community. A community unified in educating each other about the history and culture of African-Americans and Hispanics alike, will eventually bring cohesion between the two cultures and mold into one strong community. Strengthening the relationship between Hispanics and African-Americans can set the stage for many outstanding achievements and exciting, new frontiers. It is with this mindset that education becomes the greatest tool in strengthening a new relationship. If educating one community about its own culture and heritage can seem like an arduous task, then educating two communities about both cultures would seem to be almost impossible. These communities underestimate their proven ability to adjust and accept new ideas and make them their own. The difference lies in the fact that each of these communities can voluntarily create opportunities for the common good. Knowledge is strongly associated with power and with this newfound power both the African-American and Hispanic communities no longer should stand divided, but unite as one. Together, African-American and Hispanic communities can unite to lower the incarceration rate, lower the poverty rate, and increase the level of education. A new “Afro-Hispanic” community will emerge that will specialize in new trades and develop new skills. This eccentric community, living in the United States, can now walk together and take huge strides forward. Uniting African-Americans and Hispanics together is what would make the new “Afro-Hispanic” community one that truly exemplifies the American way: one that is able to adapt and grow with the knowledge and customs of different cultures.
African Americans and Hispanics in the United States are in the same boat. Not only is this boat sinking with hardly any life vests onboard, the boat is also sinking fast. Hispanics and African Americans in this country face very similar issues within their respective communities, and thus have the same hurdles to overcome. For example, in 2004, a greater proportion of African Americans (24.7%) and Hispanics (21.9%) lived in poverty than their White (8.6%) and Asian (9.8%) counterparts. Also, in the year 2002, the graduation rates from public high schools for African Americans (56 %) and for Hispanics (52%) were much lower than graduation rates for Whites (78%) and the country as a whole (71%) (Public High School Graduation and College-Readiness Rates: 1991–2002). And although these statistics are depressing, they do not tell the future. The boat is sinking, but each person on the boat, if they try, can contribute to repairing the hole. Why is it important for African Americans and Hispanics to work together? What can be done? What do HBCUs have to do with this? This essay will strive to answer these questions.What the boat analogy in the above paragraph tried to illustrate is that there is a relationship between the African Americans and Hispanics in the United States. In other words, African Americans and Hispanics in the United States should work together because their fates are intertwined. They are in the same situation. It has been this way since the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s influenced and paved the way for the Farm Workers movement spearheaded by César Chávez in the late 1960s. The gains each group made during that time certainty benefited the other. Thus an inter-racial unity between Hispanics and African Americans would result in even more progress today. The above statistics show (1) that poor African Americans and Hispanics live in the same neighborhoods and (2) that these two groups need to tackle the issue of education. In resolving the first issue, because African Americans and Hispanics in a sense live together, they can only get rid of the gangs, graffiti, and violence in their communities by working together. They can only get their respective Senators to listen to them by complaining together, and they can only make this issue known nation-wide by trying together. The second problem is a harder one to tackle. Hispanics and African Americans are graduating high school at a lower rate than the national average. Some people attribute this to a widely held false idea that most Hispanics and African Americans attend poor schools. This idea proves invalid because while a greater proportion of African Americans and Hispanics are poor compared to other racial groups, most African Americans and Hispanics are considered middle class. And because the above statistics does not separate between graduation rates in poor high schools and good high schools, one can assume (correctly) that the low graduation rates are not due to poor schools. Instead, these rates are due to an Anti-intellectualism strain within each respective culture. In other words, I think that Hispanic kids and African American kids are growing up in a culture (their own) that does not value education. The reasons for why these cultures do not value education are not irrelevant. These issues need to be talked about (a lot of people know these statistics, but are afraid to speak aloud) and addressed. Thus it is up to African Americans and Hispanics (no one else) to work together and tackle this cancer actively, looking at each other for help and support. Another problem these groups face, not illustrated by the statistics, is trying to incorporate and make their culture present in the United States. America is often said to be a melting pot of cultures, yet African Americans and Hispanics are evidently missing from history textbooks. Thus these groups should work together and make sure that their contributions to this country are being taught to children in schools. Thus a relationship between African Americans and Hispanics is a very good thing. If African Americans and Hispanics work together, they could stop the boat from sinking.The last paragraphed outlined some issues that African Americans and Hispanics face in this country and why working together will be beneficial for both these groups. How can African Americans and Hispanics unite with each other? Or in other words, what can be done to strengthen the relationship between African Americans and Hispanics? Firstly, African Americans need to stop seeing each other as enemies and start seeing each other as allies. Naturally, people living in close quarters with each other tend to bump heads. This is exactly what is happening in the inner-city and being telegraphed to the suburbs. Inner-city Hispanic and African American kids and teenagers, who live in the same neighborhoods are bumping heads and fighting with each other on account of “turf.” If they realize that instead of fighting with each other or seeing each other as enemies, they can actually live peaceful on a “turf” better than the one they were fighting for. Once the “word” is out that Hispanics and African Americans are now getting along, it will also result in better relationships between middle class African Americans and Hispanics. A second way to strengthen the relationships between these two groups is for the African American and Hispanic leaders to encourage a nationwide talk and negotiation between these groups to foster communication and eventually a sense of community. Organizations can be set up to promote these inter-racial friendships in predominantly African American and Hispanic communities. Thus it shouldn’t be difficult to strengthen the relationships between African Americans and Hispanics in the United StatesIn addition to the aforementioned ways of strengthening the relationships between African Americans and Hispanics, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are good places to encourage relationships between these two groups. HBCUs provide the perfect place for African Americans and Hispanics to interact, live, work, and socialize together. HBCUs can continue to provide for the needs of these two groups by working to recruit more Hispanic students to get communication flowing between the African Americans and Hispanics in this country. Not only do HBCUs foster positive relationships, they foster educational growth as well. It is proven that African Americans do better at colleges and universities where they their race is not a minority. In other words, they do better at schools when there are more African Americans on campus. Thus the existences of HBCUs promote the growth of African American and possibly Afro-Hispanic students. One way HBCUs can continue this support is by actively recruiting African American and Afro-Hispanic students and offering them enticing financial aid packages. Therefore HBCUs are very important.In conclusion, although African Americans and Hispanics are on a sinking boat, there is hope. If everyone can find the little repairman inside themselves, then they will be able to find the tools they need, to patch up the hole.
These are your finalist for the 2007 African American & Hispanic Unity Scholarship.
Help us choose an awardee by reading the essays of the finalists and then voting on them.
Thank you for all who participated and congratulations to all who have become finalists!
_______________________________ An onion a day, keeps EVERYONE away!
The rules are:
You must write an essay that is between 500 and 2,500 words explaining your thoughts and solutions to the following points:
1. Why should African Americans and Hispanics in the United States work together as minorities to address political, cultural, communication, and community issues?
2. What can be done to strengthen the relationship between the African American and Hispanic communities living within the United States?
3. How and why should Historically Black College & Universities continue to support the needs of African American Students and possibly the needs of the growing Hispanic (and Afro-Hispanic) population in the United States?
_______________________________ An onion a day, keeps EVERYONE away!