As former rapper Luke Campbell continues on his campaign to become the mayor of Miami, he is unwittingly coming up against cultural tides that will affect the political future of all African-Americans. A recent mayoral debate for candidates in the Miami race was held at the publicly-funded Florida International University — but it was restricted to Spanish-speaking candidates only. The result? Only four out of the 11 people running were invited, all of Latino descent. In addition to Campbell, a second African-American candidate, Roosevelt Bradley, was kept out of the debate for racial reasons alone. Both black contenders complained of these shenanigans:
Speaking to CBS Miami, Luther Campbell – a former rap star and African American candidate for mayor – said he was appalled at what he called a ‘Cuban-only forum’.
He said: ‘The university is having a Cuban-only forum, which is wrong to the students, because the students are from all different races and all different cultures and all the students don’t speak only Spanish.’
Roosevelt Bradley, another black candidate, said he was ‘outraged’ that the publicly funded university allowed what he called a ‘polarising and divisive event’ to be held on the campus.
He said: ‘This turns the clock back 50 years on race and ethnic relations.’
The university claims it was not involved in the organization of the event, which was sponsored by Spanish language station Univision. Students of all races met this abdication of responsibility with anger at this act of discrimination. But this type of focus on the Latino community over others could be the wave of the future.
According to The Daily Mail, some analysts see this event as one of the first signs that African-Americans must face this fact — we are no longer the dominant minority. A recent report on PBS discussed explanatory trends revealed by recent census data:
Latinos made up more than half of the population growth, most rapidly in the South. Today, one of every six Americans, about 50 million people, is Hispanic… Many of the cities with the largest African-American populations, including Chicago and Detroit, saw declines, as residents moved to suburbs and to the South…
As these cities depopulate of their traditional African-American constituency, we’re seeing that that culture and that that political power that they had been able to build up over the years since the great migration is now being dispersed. And that’s something that we will be observing in the next few years, as well, and decades.
What does this mean? The explosion of the Latino community nation-wide combined with the dispersion of the African-American community away from cities spells the end of our power as a unified voting block in local politics. The former Luke Skyywalker might have been dealt a discriminatory blow in the Miami race for mayor, but blacks in general might be in for a shock in the coming years. African-American candidates and constituents might consistently fail to receive the respect that we are accustomed to as a formerly commanding voting block.
The obvious solution to this issue is to learn to partner more with the Latino community in order to get our mutual needs met as people of color with many similar social perspectives. We saw the possibility of such a coalition take shape when the race-baiting “show me your papers” programs in Arizona spawned national outrage. Since then, the idea of a black-Latino coalition has largely fizzled.
Is this something you see as a possibility for us moving forward? Politics has created stranger bedfellows. If we don’t learn to work with other groups on the local level we might get left out of more political discussions, just like Luke. Giving up our identity as the most powerful minority is essential to our maintaining political power in the 21st century.