Victims of the Zoot Suit Riots, where groups of servicemen scoured the streets in Los Angeles looking for and attacking individuals wearing zoot suits (June 1943). The servicemen blamed the Mexican American pachucos for numerous unprovoked assaults on their colleagues. Photo by Harold P. Matosian/The Commons

Beyond Racism and Resignations

Recent disclosures that Los Angeles City Council members and a union official racially denounced others compels us to deal with racism, colorism and anti-Blackness interwoven with classism for it reveals that within the Brown community a significant number of light-complexioned persons of color identify color-wise with the White supremacist ruling elite who run this country and dominate the world and are themselves determined to become exploiters.

The criminal dehumanization, rejection and exploitation of their darker, naïve and disorganized relatives is the way it works. Most aspects of this same phenomenon occur among Black people but are less apparent because we are darker genetically.

Listen carefully. With rare and noteworthy exceptions, the Democratic Party politician, not unlike his or her Republican crony, benefits from, promotes and defends a system that does not address your interests.

This means that we’ve bought into a terrible system that is determined to promote white over dark skin nonsense, preserve the status quo and is completely against us. It means too, and history has demonstrated this, that it is entirely possible for an unethical member of one’s own race to get elected to public office, sell out and collaborate with our people’s enemies.

It also means that if we intend to end discrimination, exploitation and govern ourselves, we must end the nonsensical practice of voting for this Democrat over that Republican or Tweedledee over Tweedledum and take all the power away from those who have selfishly mismanaged power since the establishment of this criminal empire, redirect and manage it ourselves. That requires enormous organization and is doable, but that is another discussion.

For the record, the U.S. Census Bureau in 2007 made public that 303 counties out of the 3,141 U.S. counties had a majority of people of color—which were mostly Black and Brown. That’s almost one in 10. Just recently, the government acknowledged that people of color are now the majority population in the entire United States.

The skeptics and naysayers swear that recent events underscore their claim that Black and Brown people always have and will forever be divided against one another. Brother Malcolm X, one of our greatest leaders and teachers, once said, “Of all our studies History is best qualified to reward our research!”

Become familiar with the incredibly beautiful yet hidden history of grassroots Brown and Black solidarity. Know and build upon the many examples of that solidarity so that Black and Brown people can take destiny into their hands, prevail over their class enemies no matter what their color or complexion and determine their own lives.

Examples:

  • Olmecs and Egyptians embraced early in 800 BC as evidenced by Olmec’s erecting enormous stone heads resembling Egyptian soldiers, their construction of pyramids and the burying of some deceased persons standing erect—which were Egyptian practices.
  • Afro-Mexican military leaders Jose Morelos Pavon and Vicente Ramon Guerrero led Mexico’s fight for independence from Spain from 1810 to 1821.
  • Thousands of enslaved runaways during the 1800s were aided by Mexican people escaping south through Texas to freedom in Mexico.
  • The Mexican government staunchly refused to enter into “Fugitive Slave Extradition Treaties” with the United States from 1822 to 1865.
  • More than 200-plus White pro-slavery defenders of the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, which included slaveowners William Travis and Jim Bowie and slavery promoter Davy Crockett, were eliminated by Mexican military forces on March 6, 1836.
  • The adoption in 1857 of “Article 13” by Mexico’s Congress declared that “any enslaved person is free the moment he sets foot on Mexican soil.” This sharply contrasted with the wicked behavior of the U.S. Supreme Court toward Dred Scott during the same year by upholding his enslavement and declaring that “Black People have no rights that white people are bound to respect.”
  • On May 5, 1862, invading and pro-slavery French forces were defeated at Puebla, Mexico, by determined Mexican fighters (celebrated as Cinco de Mayo).
  • Critical military support was given to President Benito Juarez’s government from 1865 to 1867 by thousands of Black Union army soldiers who entered the country at the end of the U.S. Civil War and helped Mexico defeat the French and end their domination.
  • The 1910–1920 Mexican Revolution’s great leader was AfroMexican General Emiliano Zapata.
  • Mexican businessman Jorge Pasquel bought a Mexican League baseball team and cleverly hired and brought on board Satchel Paige, the celebrated Negro Baseball League (NBL) pitcher, and several other NBL players, and they began to systematically defeat segregated all-white U.S. major league teams.
    Pasquel’s bold and decisive action is what forced the all-White Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947 to hire Jackie Robinson and begin the desegregation of Major League Baseball. Sports enthusiasts and others who view the film 42 see Robinson get all the credit for desegregating Major League Baseball while Mexicans, much like the “elephant in the room,” are never mentioned.
  • During June 1943, World War II was under way and many Whites were resentful of Brown and Black young men who avoided military service, especially zoot suiters.
    Some Long Beach–based racist White sailors who had a history of attacking zoot suiters, who were mostly Brown, put out the word that they and their Marine buddies were going to converge on 12th Street and Central Avenue in Los Angeles (which was where Black people were concentrated during that period) and beat up the Black people.
    As they became aware of these threats against Blacks, Mexicans from various street organizations (referred to then and now as gangs) came to Black residents and offered assistance.
    When the Whites arrived in U.S. Navy trucks and began attacking the 20 or so Black decoys in the middle of 12th and Central, an estimated 500 fighters from 38th Street, Clanton, Jardin, Jugtown and other neighborhoods launched their counterattack, whipped them badly and forced them to retreat.
    A writer for one of the Black newspapers at the time even wrote that “the little Mexican Girls were ferocious—They had much more, they were much more tigers than Negro girls.” The United States placed Los Angeles off limits to all its servicemen.

Beyond anti-Blackness and class divisiveness, there are so many moments of solidarity to be cherished and shared leading right up to the present day such as Brown Hermanos and Hermanas joining with Black Lives Matter activists and more.

The historical intersections are many when our two peoples aided, defended or joined together with one another, which was usually during the worst of times.

  • Ron Wilkins

    Ron Wilkins is a Los Angeles–based cross-cultural collaboration specialist and organizer who has focused for many years on helping Black and Brown people learn and build upon their rich yet hidden history of solidarity as a means of preventing conflict and moving forward. His website is www.blackbrownunity.org.

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Homer Greene. Nice graphic.
Homer Greene. Nice graphic.
2 months ago

An informative essay.

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