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Latino on Black Ethnic Cleansing in L.A.? Not So

Monday, June 4, 2007

Tarso Luís Ramos writes an interesting article on the supposed “ethnic cleansing” of Blacks by Latino gang members in L.A. However, as Ramos reports, things aren’t always as they seem. Especially when “the vast majority of gang crime has been and remains intra-racial—Latino on Latino and Black on Black—a fact often lost in the jumble of crime statistics, and media coverage that highlights racial conflict between communities of color.”

Here are some excerpts from the article below:

“We need to go on the offensive to put an end to this idea of ethnic cleansing in L.A.,” declares Noreen McClendon, executive director of Concerned Citizens of South Central Los Angeles. “It is not happening.”

McClendon—an African American who serves as vice president of operations for the Watts Gang Task Force—is upset about a recent deluge of news stories claiming that Latinos are “ethnically cleansing” their African American neighbors in southern California. The reports, which McClendon characterizes as dangerously misleading, have circulated widely in print, broadcast, and Web media, generating alarm in civil rights circles and unrestrained glee in those of anti-immigrant activists and white supremacists. In McClendon’s view, all this hype obscures some basic realities: “Gangs kill each other. Gangs kill innocent people.” The ethnic cleansing label, she says, “is blown so far out of proportion” with the facts on the ground.

In January that phrase, which had previously appeared on gang-watch websites, was suddenly everywhere following the Los Angeles Times’ publication of an editorial by Rutgers Law Professor Tanya K. Hernandez. Referencing the trial of Avenues 43 members, Hernandez pronounced Green’s murder “a manifestation of an increasingly common trend: Latino ethnic cleansing of African Americans from multiracial neighborhoods.” Rather than explain this bombshell of a conclusion, Hernandez used the Green murder as an opportunity to present her thesis that Latino prejudices against African Americans often have roots in immigrants’ countries of origin–a subject on which she has published scholarly articles. This argument deserves consideration, but in presenting it as context for the charge of ethnic cleansing, Hernandez provided ammunition for those who would argue that Latinos, as a generalized whole, are a threat to African Americans and that the danger posed by new (read “illegal”) immigrants can be lethal. Ironically, the people actually charged with the Green, Bowser, and Wilson murders were members of Chicano gangs whose L.A. roots go back many decades.

Originally read on New American Media.

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2 Comments
  1. Y. Carrington permalink
    Monday, June 4, 2007 4:42 pm

    I saw a similar report from the Southern Poverty Law Center a few months ago, arguing this same “ethnic cleansing” line with no evidence to back it up. But most of these “watchdog” groups like SPLC define racism very liberally, even including Black/POC nationalist organizations in their definition of hate groups.

    Who would call this shit ethnic cleansing with a straight face? Are so-called watchdog groups and activists really that uninformed? Nothing’s more frustrating than seeing folks blame people of color blame for the sociopolitical structures white folks created. Damn.

  2. Maxjulian permalink
    Thursday, June 21, 2007 9:29 pm

    I believe this is wishful thinking at best, and at worst, part of a concerted effort to plant the seeds for the behavior they pretend to decry.

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