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Do Blacks and Latinos Get Along?

Illustration by: Matt Mahurin

It may not be the question you’ve had in mind, or possibly not phrased in this way, but the Pew Hispanic Center has released a study titled "Do Blacks and Hispanics Get Along?" The study noted the results of the Florida Democratic primary, in which Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) took the black vote by better than 2-1, while Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) won among Hispanics by nearly 2-1, as a basis to ask whether these numbers reflected larger divisions between the two groups.

The telephone survey reached a "nationally-representative sample of 3,086," but it is not clear to what degree the Hispanics surveyed included immigrants and undocumented immigrants, nor whether they represented the larger distribution of mestizo, black, and white Latinos and of groups as disparate as New York Dominicans, California Mexicans, D.C. Salvadorans, and Miami Cubans. The categories of participants were Whites, Blacks, and Hispanics.

On the study’s title question, the largest differences were between whites, on one side, and the other groups, on the other, although blacks tended to see black-Hispanic relations as better than did Hispanics. Among whites, only 8 percent thought that the other two groups got along "very well", while blacks (24 percent) and Hispanics (22 percent) thought they did. On whether the two minorities got along "pretty well," 31 percent of whites said yes, while 46 percent of blacks and 35 percent of Hispanics agreed. Hispanics were significantly more likely than blacks to say that inter-group relations are strained (30% vs. 18%). Reasonably enough, 29 percent of whites did not know or refused to give their opinion on how the other groups got along.

On the question of whether blacks were discriminated against in areas such as housing, employment, and university admissions, blacks agreed in higher numbers than Hispanics, and whites in the lowest percentages. When asked if discrimination or personal shortcomings are the main reason why some blacks don’t succeed, roughly similar majorities of blacks (53%) and Hispanics (59%) say blacks themselves are responsible, a view shared by 71% of all whites.

Hispanics were significantly more likely than African Americans to view illegal immigration as a serious problem in their communities. Overall, more than four out of 10 Hispanics (44%) said illegal immigration is a big problem in their communities, compared with 28% of blacks. The views of the two groups were virtually identical in counties that have the smallest proportion of Hispanics.

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