Sardonic Sistah Says

Observations… Ruminations… Ponderances… & Rants from Another Perspective

Negro y Relaciones de Latino

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One of the bad things about Cincinnati is that people think in terms of race as if we were still living in the 1950s.One of the good things about Cincinnati is that people think in terms of race as if we were still living in the 1950s.  If you are a person of color but not black you can basically live under the radar in Cincinnati.  Black and white Cincinnatians are so consumed with arguing over Jim Crow laws that we don’t even notice the growing Hispanic and Asian communities in and outside of the city. 

Except my friend Lonnie.  She lives in on the westside of town and about five years ago she began complaining about the growing numbers of Hispanics moving into her neighborhood.

 “The group of Hispanics that is living there now are so much better than the folks who were living there before,” Lonnie said.  Before the house was rented by a woman Lonnie described as a welfare Queen.  Lonnie complained about the neighbor not watching her children or keeping the front yard queen but the Welfare Queen’s biggest transgression was letting her herd encroach upon Lonnie’s mother’s garden.  Lonnie bought the house for her and her mother to live in and although fences make good neighbors it also becomes an object to get around for unsupervised children.  Sometimes the kids would hurl things over the wall or just walk in through unlocked gates.  The front yard, which wasn’t fenced in, was a free for all area.  You would think three black women, with the shared commonality of race, would have been able to come to an agreement but it wasn’t the case.  Lonnie just saw the other woman as an enemy to her investment (especially her hydrangeas) and the other woman saw Lonnie as that bougie bitch.

Lonnie was very happy when she was evicted.

At first Lonnie was unsure about the Hispanics living next door.  It was all adults; some single males, a few married couples.  She suspected they weren’t anymore or less educated than the previous tenant, but like herself they were gone to work during the day and sometimes a lot of them didn’t come home till late at night.   Being a friendly person by nature she eventually became friends with them and began evolution from the quotidian greetings of “Hi Neighbor, how are you today?” to the socializing of, “What are you doing tonight?”

From there socializing lead to romancing and Lonnie fell in love with one of the guys who lived in the house.  They became a couple and eventually married, with the guy moving into the home with her and her mother.  Last week they celebrated the birth of their second child.

So now, the community where Lonnie is living has gone from all black to mostly Latino.  I’m sure the 2010 census will note the change.   Even though the love of her life is South American with probably no black heritage (at least none that is discernable to my ‘Spot-a-Brother eyes’) Lonnie is now lamenting that there are hardly any African Americans around.

“I mean, I can go into the store and never see anyone who looks like us,” she said.

“Does that bother you?” I ask.

“No, but sometimes you just want to see us,” Lonnie said decisively.   “We used to everywhere over here when I first moved in, but now it’s a lot of Hispanics.  They’re opening up stores, they’re moving into houses and apartment, and they’re playing their music…”

“They’re knocking you up…”

“It’s just…” Lonnie goes on as if I hadn’t made a snide comment, but she generally ignores most of what I say.  “It’s just now I want to see more of us.”

With the brisk rise of Hispanics (and a few Asians) into primarily black and white communities there hasn’t been any backlash.  In other cities with more established Hispanic and Asian communities I read about the tension with African Americans that leads to violence among the groups.   The current presidential race is helping to solidify enmity between the two groups with the Clintons expounding the notion that Hispanics constituents won’t vote for a Black candidate.

Last week, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson threw his super delegate vote to Barack Obama because of Obama’s speech on race.

“I just believe Senator Obama brings in a new breed of leadership, new breed of advisers, new breed of constituency, younger people, people that have been out of politics,” Richardson said.  “That is very attractive, not just to the Democratic Party, but for the country.”

Perhaps Obama’s message will also reach outside the black/white dichotomy.  In the Fresno Bee, Visalia lawyer Victor Moheno said the speech was “very honest in relating how the races in the United States have come to where we are in 2008.”  Moheno is a lawyer who traveled to Texas to help with the Obama campaign and felt that the speech also related to Hispanics.  “…The message was the same,” Moheno said.  That Latinos get pitted against whites, and whites and Latinos get pitted against blacks, when all the children are suffering.”

So far, in my part of the world there hasn’t been a problem with Black-Hispanic clashes as there have been in other parts of the country and I hope we remain that lucky.  I doubt it.  The city is slow to change but change does come, not matter how many decades late.  But as we wait Lonnie’s first son is learning to speak Spanish as well as English and he will eat empanadas along with his collard greens so when the culture war hits hopefully he can be a diplomat to both sides.

Or be branded a traitor.  You never know.


Written by rentec

24 March, 2008 at 9:17 pm

One Response

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  1. I am African American and my husband is Mexican. We have been together for 3 years, and I would not trade him for the world.


    4 October, 2008 at 4:32 pm

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