The “ABC” of Politics in the USA: America, Barack, Coalition (Part 2)

| December 8, 2012

Socio-Political contributor – Ron Belgrave

African-Americans defied voter suppression and other invidious gerrymandering tactics plus the impact of SuperStorm Sandy to queue for long hours in cold weather to ensure that Barack Obama was re-elected as President of the United States.

 In light of the massive support for Obama’s Democrat party from Black and Latino voters (93% and 71% respectively) and that not a single Black person attended the Romney Republican election night event (apart from the singer in the band) both of the main parties are looking at voters from ethnic/racial minorities.

The Democrats want to ensure that, post-Obama in 2016 and onwards, the coalition of voters (see part 1 of this article) that Barack Obama was able to bring together for 2012 is retained. The Republicans, in despair and faced with potential presidential electoral oblivion for decades into the future, want some of that coalition for themselves.

Both parties are overwhelmingly controlled by the white community – which is increasingly aware of the perceived non-white vote – and they both want the Latino (or “brown”) vote.

That leaves three questions for African-Americans in the USA :

1        –  who are the Latinos ?

2        –  will African-Americans be further side-lined politically ?

3        –  what steps does the Black population now need to take ?

The (almost exclusively white) Republican party will, undoubtedly, woo Latinos over the next few years for electoral purposes for the 2014 senatorial and 2016 presidential elections. But who are the Latinos?

The other term often used interchangeably is “Hispanic” meaning someone from a Spanish speaking country of Central/South America. But, as that excludes Portuguese-speaking Brazilians and other non-Spanish speaking people, the term Latino is more frequently used – meaning people from Latin America (ie. people of Latin/Iberian cultures/languages/faiths).

Further, many Native Americans (Amerindians) from Central and South America consider both Hispanic and Latino to be European based terms and therefore not inclusive of them.

Latinos are increasingly a demographical force on the political map of the USA having a population of 50 million (bigger than the Black population of 40 million), forecast to rise to 127 million by 2050 (more than twice the size of the forecast Black populace of 57 million) and an increasing proportion of that Latino population exercising their right to vote.

However, the composition of the Latino (or “brown”) community is interesting. The majority of Latinos are white (53%) with 43% being mixed-race, 3% Black and 1% Native American. Demographics also indicate that 64% are from Mexico and 16% are from the Caribbean.  The ten-yearly population census in the USA includes Hispanic (Latino) as a separate ethnic group but not as a separate racial group – so a person could, for example, tick both white and Hispanic on the census form.

The subject of white Hispanics became an issue in the trial of George Zimmerman for the racist murder of Trayvon Martin where Zimmerman was described as a white Hispanic. However, as the (white) Republican and Democrat parties fight for the votes of the (majority white) Hispanic community, the subject could become even more of an issue if suspicions grow that the parties are focusing disproportionately more on the issues related to and wooing of the white Hispanics/Latinos than on others in the community.

People from Central, South or North America of European descent (eg. Spain, Portugal) would be white in the same way that someone from anywhere in the Americas of European descent (England, France, Sweden) would be regarded as white. White Hispanics/Latinos (Martin Sheen, Cameron Diaz, Andy Garcia, Selma Hayek, Ricky Martin, Christina Aguilera etc.) are perhaps the most visible in the Latino community in the USA but the mixed-race group is perhaps most interesting.

The main sub-categories for mixed-race that would have contributed to the 2010 US population census are “mestizo” (white and Amerindian), “mulatto” (white or Amerindian and Black) and “multi-racial” with 77% of mixed-race Hispanics coming from Mexico (65%) and the Caribbean (12%).

A rough analysis of that data (including application of the American “one drop rule”) suggests that, in simple terms, the overall Latino community in the USA could broadly be viewed as being apportioned :

–          55% white

–          35% Native (or mixed) Amerindian

–          10% Black (or mixed Black)

So, if anyone is “brown” in Barack’s American Coalition, it is probably the 17 million Latinos (35%) with distinct Amerindian heritage – or “red” if outdated language is used.

To be continued on Saturday 15th December

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Category: Commonwealth Political Insights, Politics

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