Latinos for Black Lives Matter

by Sarah Benatar

Our separate struggles are really one – a struggle for freedom, for dignity and for humanity . . . You and your fellow workers have demonstrated your commitment to righting grievous wrongs forced upon exploited people. We are together with you in spirit and in determination that our dreams for a better tomorrow will be realized.

Telegram from Martin Luther King Jr. to Cesar Chavez, 1966.

The fights against racism of African Americans and Latinos are bound together. We are similarly racially profiled and similarly discriminated against. We share the experience of police violence. We share the experience of being hit harder by the coronavirus due to pre-pandemic realities associated with structural discrimination.

As Latinos, we must join with the black community as they confront racism. Our specific experiences may differ, but we share a common oppressor. We want the same results. We want dignity, equality, and humanity. We no longer want to be racially profiled as a threat. We no longer want to be subjected to scare tactics intended to vilify and identify us as “other.” We no longer want to see our brothers and sisters die. We no longer want to see ourselves fall victim to institutional racism that makes it harder for us to live. Daily, we are seeing reminders of how the current global pandemic is disproportionately impacting people of color. Blacks and Latinos are dying at higher rates than whites. In some cases, the Black and Latino death rates are at least six times higher than for whites. Generations of discrimination have often proven determinative of where we live, what jobs we do, what preexisting health conditions we may have and whether we can access the care we need to manage them. The virus may not discriminate, but society does, in ways that make it deadlier and more transmissible in some groups than others.

Some wish to divide us, encouraging oppressed groups to compete for the title of most oppressed. We must not feed into such attempts to create “Oppression Olympics.” There is a kinship of experience as a community that transcends such notions. Latinos for Black Lives is the sort of statement that terrifies the oppressors. They know that together, standing side by side, we are a force to be reckoned with. United and fighting together, we can make John Lewis’ “good trouble” and bring real systematic change.

All our struggles, pain, and trauma are real. Only by working together can we ensure that our children do not continue to suffer. Tu lucha es mi lucha. We must continue to support the Black Lives Matter movement. We must come out and vote this November. We must take a stand against politicians, such as Donald Trump, who try to scare us, belittle us, and promote hate against us.

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