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Study Explores Anti-Black Prejudice Among Latino Immigrants

Study Explores Anti-Black Prejudice Among Latino Immigrants
New study suggests immigrants bring negative views with them from home countries.

By Christina Asquith

Latino immigrants often hold negative views of African-Americans, which they most likely bring with them from their more-segregated Latin American countries, a new Duke University study shows.

The study also found that sharing neighborhoods with Blacks reinforces Latino’s negatives views, and reinforces their feelings that they have “more in common with Whites” — although Whites did not feel the same connection with Latinos.

“We were actually quite depressed by what we found. The presence of these attitudes doesn’t augur well for relations between these two groups,” says lead author Dr. Paula D. McClain, a Duke political science professor.

The study, “Racial Distancing in a Southern City: Latino Immigrants’ Views of Black Americans,” is based on a 2003 survey of 500 Latino, Black and White residents in Durham, N.C., a city with one of the fastest-growing Latino populations. Latinos represented 8.6 percent of Durham’s population in 2001, up from 1 percent in 1990.

Duke’s study found that Blacks did not reciprocate the negative feelings. And highly educated Hispanic respondents who socialize with Blacks were not as likely to harbor negative stereotypes.

McClain focused her study on the South because she wanted to examine what impact the Hispanic population explosion in the region was going to make on the Black/White dynamic.

“No section of the country has been more rigidly defined along a Black-White racial divide [than the South]. How these new Latino immigrants situated themselves vis-à-vis Black Americans has profound implications for the social and political fabric of the South,” McClain writes.

Among the results: Almost 59 percent of Latino immigrants reported feeling that “few or almost no Blacks are hard working.” And 57 percent found that “few or no Blacks could be trusted.”

ewer than 10 percent of White respondents held similar negative attitudes towards Blacks, suggesting that Hispanics were not adopting their negative views from Whites. Previous research on race and Latin America found that Blacks “represent the bottom rungs of society” and Duke researchers surmise Latino immigrants “might bring prejudicial attitudes with them,” the study states.

Dr. Ronald Walters, a professor of political science at the University of Maryland, calls the study “right on target.” He says that Hispanics overwhelmingly consider themselves as “White” because of the overall negatives associations with being Black.

Some say that such poor relations represent a missed opportunity for two working-class groups to partner politically. McClain intends to start a larger survey in the next year in other Southern cities, including Memphis. She hopes her findings will be more positive.

“If large portions of Latino immigrants maintain negative attitudes of Black Americans, where will this leave Blacks?” she asks. “Will Blacks find that they must not only make demands on Whites for continued progress, but also mount a fight on another front against Latinos?”

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