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Blacks And Hispanics Are Brothers
2/20/2013 12:18:38 PM

By Barney Blakeney

  Black man, start embracing your Hispanic brothers.

  I had an interesting conversation with one of my mentors this past weekend. There are a few people out there who support me unconditionally. Lonnie Hamilton, III is one of them. He’s never failed to  offer objective insight, information and encouragement.

   I met Mr. Hamilton when I started this gig as a newsman. Since, I’ve learned a lot about the man who became Charleston County’s first Black county council member back  in the early 1970s.

   I won’t call him an astute politician. The description as a politician would diminish who Lonnie Hamilton is. He’s a smart, dutiful and dedicated person who uses his life to help others. A politician is someone who uses politics to manipulate others.

   I’d heard of Hamilton before then. Hamilton was band director at the old Bonds-Wilson High School in North Charleston. I did my early schooling in North Charleston where the royal blue and gold Cobras was the only high school for Blacks. The marching band was a rival to Burke High and later, C.A. Brown High.

   I played drums at C.A. Brown High. We loved facing off against the Cobras. They were tight. And could march! That royal blue and gold looked good hitting the lines. Hamilton was a musical icon and his band was testament to his prowess.

   In college I gained a new respect for Hamilton. I’d been introduced to jazz and two of the best jazz fusion drummers I’d heard were Billy Cobham and Alphonse Mouzon.

   Mouzon was a native of North Charleston. He had learned his art in Lonnie Hamilton’s Bonds-Wilson Cobra band and moved on to become one of the premier jazz drummers of his time.

   He played the Columbia Coliseum with Chick Corea and Return To Forever band in 1975. During the concert, from the stage, Mouzon recognized Hamiliton. It was something I’ll never forget.

   Two years later as a newspaper reporter I covered Hamilton on county council. He’s never left me hanging. If I called him, he’d respond. If I asked him a question, he’d give me an answer. Usually with more insight than I expected.

   That was my expedience last weekend. My story was about Democrats voting in the Republican primary. Hamilton gave me the real skinny. Not a good idea, he said. But as usual, he offered some insight on the side.

   That insight concerned Blacks and Hispanics beyond the politics of the Democratic and Republican parties. The Hispanic community is growing by leaps and bounds. In greater and greater numbers Hispanics are entering the local workforce, particularly in low end jobs. Jobs once reserved for Blacks.

   That’s got a lot of Black folks mad. Some folks say Hispanics are taking jobs away from Black folks. Others say Black folks won’t take the jobs Hispanics do and certainly not at the wages Hispanics accept.

  Hamilton expressed concern that Blacks too often view Hispanics as the enemy or as targets. Because many Hispanics don’t use banks and carry a lot of cash, they’re becoming targets for robbery, Hamilton said. And often the perpetrators are Black.

   But look at the economic gains Hispanics are making. Go to certain parts of the local community and all you see are Hispanic owned businesses.

   The larger community recognizes the social and economic potential of the Hispanic community. Everything is advertised in both English and Spanish. That’s an indication the Hispanic community is recognized as a major force, Hamilton said.

   Everybody else seems to be making friends with the Hispanic community. American business welcomes them with jobs and access to consumer goods. President Barack Obama has opened the nation’s borders and colleges. But Black folks, Black folks curse and rob them, says Hamilton.

   I’ve got a friend who says some of the meanest things I’ve ever heard in reference to Hispanics. It appalls me. I ask myself how Black folks, who have been persecuted so much simply based on their ethnicity and skin color, can discriminate against Hispanics.

   Hamilton thinks there is a more practical reason for Blacks to befriend Hispanics. In the very near future, Hispanics will be this nation’s largest minority group. They will own businesses and jobs Black folks will look to for economic inclusion. The same laborer Blacks rob today tomorrow may own the company we look to for employment, he says.

   Personally, I think it has to go beyond the practical. As an oppressed people, Blacks should recognize that the native South Americans coming to the United States of America also are an oppressed people. Like us, they too have been enslaved and exploited.

   We share a lot with Hispanics from South American and Mexico and we have a lot to learn from them. Embracing them will benefit both groups.



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