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Can We Talk? Commentator’s Book Urges More Black/Hispanic Dialogue

Earl Ofari Hutchinson, a syndicated columnist and political analyst, who writes about race, politics and social issues in books and blogs, has tackled the sticky subject of relations between African Americans and Hispanic Americans.

His latest book is The Latino Challenge to Black America: Towards a Conversation Between African Americans and Hispanics, $19.95, Middle Passage Press (September 1, 2007) ISBN-10: 1881032221, ISBN-13: 978-1881032229.

The author devotes a chapter to education, giving it the telling title of “Reluctant Classroom Allies.”

Too often, as the book’s name implies, conversation on shared concerns and conflicts has not taken place. The two groups often see themselves in competition for scarce jobs, resources and other benefits of American society and talk past each other about the causes and solutions, as the author notes. Meanwhile, those who oppose progress for either group are all too happy to see them pitted against one another.

“When the fight for educational excellence is wrongly transformed into an educational clash between blacks and Latinos for limited resources,” Hutchinson writes, “it hurts minority students and shifts the burden of accountability to attain that excellence from teachers and college administrators.”

Blacks and Latinos have much to gain from understanding and cooperating with one another if they can find mutual ground, he argues. In looking at education, he examines issues ranging from fighting between African American and Latino high school students, the failures of English-only classroom instruction, dropout rates and test scores, among others.

 â€śThe bitter truth is that while segregated public schools are not the law of the land, they remain a fact of the land and the overwhelming majority of black and Latino students are stuck in them,” the author writes.

The problems of these urban schools made up almost exclusively of Black and Latino students who have been written off and are falling increasingly behind other students demand that educators, parents and students of both groups, and leaders of all colors, work together and demand more from the entire community to combat them.

“Restoring excellence at crumbling urban schools is the prime goal,” Hutchinson argues.

Hutchinson’s book provides a brief survey of the issues but is well worth the read and could be a vehicle to jump-start the conversation.

The author’s earlier books include The Emerging Black GOP Majority, Black Fatherhood: The Guide to Male Parenting, The Assassination of the Black Male Image. Beyond O.J.: Race, Sex and Class Lessons for America, Betrayed: The Presidential Failure to Protect Black Lives, and The Disappearance of Black Leadership.


Hutchinson’s commentaries can be read regularly at He is also a contributor to various other online and print publications.

–Angela P. Dodson, Diverse Online staff

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