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One Serious Problem Gone (Jewish Journal, February 1, 2012)

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The City Council's Shameless Pander (The Wide Angle, October 20, 2011)

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Stout Awards Honors Olney, Morrison and Mantle (The Wide Angle, October 20, 2011)

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Dance With Who Brung ‘Ya (Jewish Journal, September 28, 2011)

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Jury Got It Right in the ‘Irvine 11’ Case (The OC Register, September 23, 2011)

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'Irvine 11' Muslim student protesters found guilty on both charges (KPCC’s Airtalk, September 23, 2011)

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Voting Rights Act Outdated in Modern Day LA (The Daily News, August 21, 2011)

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When Did Carrying An ID Become A “White Thing”? (The OC Register, August 15, 2011)

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Bill Crafts Disneyland Version of History (The Sacramento Bee, July 14, 2011)

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An Education Game Changer (The Wide Angles, July 12 2011)

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A Flotilla of Fools (The Wide Angle Blog, July 8, 2011)

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Advocacy, the Academy and Mushy Thinking (The Wide Angle Blog, July 1, 2011)

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Tragic Fiction comes to Life (The Wide Angle, June 23, 2011)

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Coalition Sues to Keep Circumcision Ban Off Ballot (The Jewish Journal, June 22, 2011)

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The Circumcision Wars (The Wall Street Journal, June 3, 2011)

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Male Circumcision Ban Proposed in Santa Monica (The Jerusalem Post, May 25, 2011)

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Right Goal, Wrong Strategy (The Wide Angle Blog, May 11, 2011)

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The Bus Has Left the Station (City Journal, April 1, 2011)

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UCLA Leads the Pack (The Wide Angle Blog, March 29, 2011)

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Mixed Race Marriages and Our Attitudes (The Wide Angles, March 25, 2011)

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The Uncle Tom Accusation, Again (The Wide Angle Blog, March 18, 2011)

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A Forward Looking Decision in Civil Rights (The Wide Angle Blog, March 9, 2011)

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A Rising Wave of Anti-Semitism (Los Angeles Times, September 16, 2009)

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The Wide Angle, A Community Advocates Blog (July - September, 2009)

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Israeli Consul General, Palestinian Lobbyist Reach Mock Peace Agreement (Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, May 6, 2009)

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Critical Issues Seminar—Mock Peace Summit in conjunction with the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy and KPCC (KPCC's Airtalk, April 29, 2009)

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In Battle Between Teachers, LAUSD, It’s the Kids Who Lose (Daily News, March 6, 2009)

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L.A. at the Tipping Point (www.RonKaye.LA, February 13, 2009)

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Theatrics by the Teachers (Daily News, February 8, 2009)

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Chicago Vs. Los Angeles Their Supe Is Obama’s New Education Man. Our Supe is Nice But… (LA Weekly, January 23, 2009)

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Critical Issues Seminar—Millennials Remaking America with KPCC (KPCC's Airtalk, January 21, 2009)

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The Good News About Gaza in America (Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, January 21, 2009)

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What Oakland Should be Protesting (Los Angeles Times, January 19, 2009)

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Calling All Radical Reformers to LAUSD (Daily News, December 14, 2008)

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Attention Politicians: Pandering Won’t Fly (Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, November 12, 2008)

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Presentation to Ayaan Hirsi Ali of Ziegler Prize for Courage of Conviction (Japan American Theatre, October 22, 2008)

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The Problems and Potential of South L.A., A Dust-Up Exchange between Joe R. Hicks and Earl Ofari Hutchinson (Los Angeles Times, August 11-15, 2008)

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Find Fresh Ideas to Battle Hate, Letter to the Editor (Los Angeles Times, August 4, 2008)

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Fast Food Freeze is a Good Choice for South LA by Jan Perry, Los Angeles Times, August 4, 2008)

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Do You Want Poppycock With That? by Tim Rutten (Los Angeles Times, August 2, 2008)

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Fast-food Moratorium is Meddling (Los Angeles Times, July 31, 2008)

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Critical Issues Seminar on the Role of Race in the 2008 Elections in conjunction with the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy and KPCC (KPCC's Airtalk, June 27, 2008)

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Shalom is not Funny (Letter to the Editor, Los Angeles Downtown News, June 23, 2008)

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A Dangerous and Precedent Setting Intrusion (Jewish Journal, June 13, 2008)

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“Ziman and Lee” (Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, May 16, 2008

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We Don’t Need More Gabfests on Diversity (Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, May 2, 2008)

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Families Deserve More than a Moratorium (Los Angeles Times, Blowback, April 10, 2008)

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On Any Given Sunday, Rev. Wright is Wrong (www.theroot.com, March 26, 2008)

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Obama’s Minister (KPCC’s Airtalk, March 18, 2008)

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LA Gang Violence Spikes (Associated Press, March 6, 2008)

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Critical Issues Seminar on The State of the Black Civil Rights Movement Today in conjunction with the Los Angeles Public Library and KPCC (KPCC's Airtalk, February)

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Asking Too Much (Los Angeles Times, January 31, 2008)

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Playing a Frayed and Faded Race Card (Jewish Journal, January 18, 2008)

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Limiting Fast Food Outlets---Path to Better Health? (KCET’s Life & Times, December 20, 2007)

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The State Bar and Revealing Data on Minority Passage Rates (KCET’s Life & Times, December 18, 2007)

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Divisions in the Jewish Community—Talking About Jerusalem (KCET’s Life & Times, December 12, 2007)

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Do Los Angeles’ Anti-Gang Programs Work? (KCET’s Life & Times, December 6, 2007)

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Sharpton Leads Call for Federal Investigation of Hate Crimes (Los Angeles Times, November 17, 2007)

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Race Card Backlash (Los Angeles Times, October 30, 2007)

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Critical Issues Seminar on Charter Schools in conjunction with the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy and KPCC (KPCC's Airtalk, October 5, 2007)

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“Smart Growth” and Los Angeles Planning (KCET’s Life & Times, Kitchen Table Conversation, September 20, 2007)

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Civil Rights in Louisiana (To the Point, KCRW-FM, September 20, 2007)

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Board Vote Not Aimed At Students (Los Angeles Daily News, September 9, 2007)

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Healthcare Reform and Politics (KCET’s Life & Times, Kitchen Table Conversation, September 5, 2007)

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Where’s the Fire? (Washington Post, August 2, 2007)

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Mexican Americans and Drunk Driving (KCET’s Life & Times, Kitchen Table Conversation, June 6, 2007)

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Baseball and the Decline in African-American Players (KCET’s Life & Times, Kitchen Table Conversation, May 30, 2007)

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Los Angeles Unified’s New Board (KCET’s Life & Times, Kitchen Table Conversation, May 23, 2007)

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New Times and the NAACP (KCET’s Life & Times, Kitchen Table Conversation, May 9, 2007)

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The Teachers’ Union and School Reform, (KCET’s Life & Times, Kitchen Table Conversation, April 18, 2007)

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Drop the Race Card (Washington Post, April 15, 2007)

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The Governor’s Health Care Plan (KCET’s Life & Times, Kitchen Table Conversation, March 28, 2007)

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“Gangs of New York and LA” (Jewish Journal of Los Angeles, January 26, 2007)

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KCET’s Life & Times transcript of Kitchen-table Conversation regarding “The Future of the Middle Class in Los Angeles” (Life & Times, January 17, 2007)

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“Does Abe Foxman Have An Anti-Anti-Semite Problem?”, (New York Times Magazine, January 14, 2007)

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KCET’s Life & Times Transcript of Kitchen-table Conversation regarding “Military Recruitment on Campus---Right or Wrong?” January 3, 2007

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KCET’s Life & Times Transcript of Kitchen-table Conversation regarding “Is There An Assault on Christmas?” December 13, 2006

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Racism Claims a Stretch" (Daily News, December 1, 2006)

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KCET’s Life & Times Transcript of Kitchen-table Conversation regarding “What is Racism Today?” November 29, 2006

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"Racism in Entertainment", (KCRW's "Which Way LA?", November 27,2006)

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“LA’s Jews and Other Minorities---Oh How They Danced” (Los Angeles Jewish Journal, November 11, 2006)

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Critical Issues Seminar in conjunction with the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy and KPCC (KPCC's Airtalk, October 9, 2006)

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KCET's Life & Times Transcript of Kitchen-table Conversation regarding "Drugs in Sports" (Life & Times, October 3, 2006)

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Award Dispute", KPCC's Airtalk, September 15,2006

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"Two Faced On Terrorism", Los Angeles Times, September 14, 2006

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Award to Islamic Leader Hathout Stirs Dispute", KCRW's Which Way LA?, September 14, 2006

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Letter to the Editor regarding Race, Religion, and Demographic Change (Los Angeles Times, June 4, 2006)

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Debate education policy, not race (Los Angeles Times, April 22, 2006)

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Civil Rights? How About Lawlessness? (Los Angeles Times, April 1, 2006)

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Disputed Film Draws Muted Response (Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, February 10, 2006)

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Blacks vs. Latinos at Work (Wall Street Journal, January 24, 2006)

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New Farrakhan Embodies Old Message (Los Angeles Jewish Journal, October 21, 2005)

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Los Angeles Times, June 22, 2003

Race and Ethnicity
Morality Play Stays the Same Latinos are now the No. 1 U.S. minority but lack the historical claims of blacks.

Author: Gregory Rodriguez; Gregory Rodriguez, a contributing editor to Opinion, is a senior fellow at New America Foundation.

Last week's headlines touting Latinos' new status as the nation's largest minority implied a demographic competition between blacks and Hispanics. Depending on what newspaper you read, blacks have been "eclipsed," "overtaken" or "surpassed" by Hispanics. But the perceived conflict is more a reflection of white America's ambivalent relationship with African Americans than it is of an actual game of demographic one- upmanship between the nation's two largest minorities. Even as Latinos exert growing influence on American politics and culture, blacks will continue to have a more powerful claim on America's moral imagination. Their history of slavery and segregation ensures that African Americans will not be displaced in their role as the preeminent "other" in U.S. society.

Black identity was forged in the uniform oppression that whites imposed on slaves who descended from an array of distinct African ethnic and tribal groups. Conversely, white identity, which includes groups as distinct as English, Jewish and Armenian Americans, has historically been defined in contradistinction to blackness. For years, the definition of a white person was simply someone who was not black. Black and white identities are inseparable. As a single black identity emerged fully, it became a constant reminder to whites of America's original sin.

"The identity of the American Negro comes out of this extreme situation," wrote James Baldwin in "Notes of a Native Son," "and the evolution of this identity was a source of the most intolerable anxiety in the minds and the lives of his masters."

The challenge that blacks have presented to them has always led native-born whites to favor immigrants and their children over the descendants of slaves. Despite the harsh treatment many immigrants have often received, the newcomers did not serve as inconvenient reminders of a sordid past. Columbia University historian Ann Douglas has written that in the early 20th century, harsh anti-immigrant sentiment also had the paradoxical effect of making immigrants more eager to see blacks as their social inferiors. Though contemporary Latinos and blacks are routinely lumped together in the same category and expected to find common cause, it is clear that whites do not view each group through the same lens.

"There are some whites who would like to swap blacks for Hispanics," says Debra Dickerson, author of the forthcoming book "The End of Blackness." "With Hispanics, whites don't feel any guilt. In fact, I think they would refuse Hispanic attempts to make them feel guilty."

In fact, advocates eager to attract more attention to Latinos have never had much success securing a claim on white America's moral conscience. In 1990, a former Ford Foundation program officer bemoaned the fact that Latinos "lacked a history of slavery, a powerful tool that had galvanized white guilt." The legacy of black slavery and segregation, and the recrimination that followed, are central to how white America views itself. Despite the anti-immigrant sentiment they sometimes face, Latino immigrants generally do not instill the same fear among whites that blacks can. The social distance between brown and white has never been as great as that between black and white.

"Our modus operandi is to be activist," says Jarrette Fellows Jr., the publisher of Beyond Urbia, a black political magazine. "Whites know that the new Latinos are not going to rock the boat."

Although many minority activists have been eager to create a rainbow coalition, the lumping of blacks and immigrants may actually work to the disadvantage of African Americans.

"Cozying up to Hispanics can help whites show how tolerant they are," says Stanford philosopher Richard Rorty. "Someone who hates the idea of hiring blacks can say, 'Hey, look how many Hispanics I have.' "

But white society's relative comfort with Latino immigrants is not only a matter of guilt. It is also about race. The Census Bureau categorizes African Americans as a racial group, meaning that they are primarily defined by shared physiological characteristics. Hispanics are considered an ethnicity, a group whose boundaries are drawn by a shared history, culture, language or religion. Throughout U.S. history, ethnic differences have been more successfully negotiated than racial ones.

Like other ethnics, Latinos were never subjected to the "one-drop rule," in which the offspring of black-white unions automatically took on the racial identity of the lower caste. The one-drop rule not only forged two rigidly defined groups, but it eliminated the taint of African ancestry from the white population. It allowed white America to pretend that extensive miscegenation had not actually occurred since the earliest days of U.S. history.

Conversely, Latinos, particularly Mexicans, who are largely of mixed European and Indian ancestry, have sometimes benefited from the recognition of their partly white heritage. Though Mexicans were historically not accepted as full equals, their part-European ancestry made it more difficult to justify their subjugation. In the 19th century, Mexicans' mixed-blood lineage helped them acquire U.S. citizenship when it was denied to Indians, blacks and Chinese.

The many anti-miscegenation statutes that prohibited

intermarriages between white Americans and other racial groups were generally not enacted against Mexicans. The instances in which Mexicans were tried for miscegenation were those in which the courts deemed that the Mexican American in question was white. Categorized as whites but long treated as nonwhites, Mexicans -- and later other Hispanics -- have occupied an "in-between" and somewhat fluid status in America's racial order.

The underlying heterogeneity of the generic terms "Latino" or "Hispanic" and the regional concentrations of groups of different national origins -- Puerto Ricans in the Northeast, Cubans in the Southeast and Mexicans in the Southwest -- also make black and Latino comparisons misleading.

Though different Latino groups do share a loosely knit overarching identity, it is clearly subordinate to the identities based on national origin. A recent survey by the Pew Hispanic Center found that U.S. Latinos are much more likely to identify themselves by country of origin than as a Latino or Hispanic. Their diverse origins, plus the absence of a collectively shared history in the U.S., ensure that Latinos will never be as cohesive a group as African Americans.

"There is something unique to the black/white relationship," says Joe Hicks, vice president of Community Advocates, a Los Angeles-based human relations organization and a former regional director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. "It will always be the barometer for how we treat the 'other' in America."

In 1903, W.E.B Du Bois wrote of blacks' contribution to the development of American culture. "Actively we have woven ourselves with the very warp and woof of this nation," he stated. As Latinos continue to infuse some of their distinctiveness into the melting pot, they are simultaneously assimilating a culture that has -- from the beginning -- been heavily influenced by African Americans. Mexican American essayist Richard Rodriguez has extended his gratitude to blacks for refashioning the English language, giving it so much of its cadence and dynamism, and then sharing it with the children of immigrants.

It is rarely acknowledged that black influence in U.S. culture and politics far exceeds African Americans' percentage of the population. In politics as in culture, their power has always been less a function of numbers than of their unique role in American history. Latinos may now outnumber blacks, but African Americans will remain firmly entrenched in the American psyche.

Copyright 2003 Los Angeles Times

 

 
   
 
 
   

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