America Isn’t Changing, So We Must: Why Latinos Are Crucial to the Black Lives Matter Movement (OPINION)

Jun 5, 2020
8:50 AM

Minnesota police stand outside the department’s 3rd Precinct on Wednesday, May 27, 2020, in Minneapolis. A drawing of George Floyd is between them. (Carlos Gonzalez/Star Tribune via AP)

It is time that we stand beside our Black friends, colleagues, and neighbors, and fight against systemic racism in the United States.

Since 2015, according to a Washington Post analysis, 1,252 Black people (of a total of 4,728 people) died in this country due to police shootings. Despite making up only 13 percent of the population, Black Americans are killed at twice the rate of white Americans.

Latinos make up the second largest number of deaths per capita by police at 877.

Although Latinos have experienced many disadvantages in recent history, such as a 24 percent increase in hate crimes, unfortunately some Latinos themselves commit heinous crimes against Black people.

It was a Latino man who killed Trayvon Martin and a Latino man who killed Philando Castile. And just recently, a Latina called the cops and erroneously claimed that two Black men kidnapped her child.

So we have stop devaluing the legitimate fears of our Black friends, while also fighting for our own freedom and privileges. The plight of Blacks and Latinos plights may be different, but we are still one in the same.

During the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, roughly 12.5 million Africans were captured, while only about 10.7 million survived the trip to the New World. Africans were forcibly deported to the Caribbean and South America, where roughly 60–70 percent of those enslaved remained, while six percent of enslaved Africans were forced to relocate to the United States. Today, there are about 130 million people in Latin America who are of African descent, in comparison to 40 million in the U.S.

There is the common misperception that because Latinos are multiracial (of European, African, and/or Native descent), we can be authorities about the Black Lives Matters movement and what it means. That is just not true, because in the end, our Latin American societies continue to whitewash (literally) and parts our past just because it is easier to live with and perhaps benefit from white privilege than to accept that many of us also have African roots. We can no longer sit on the sidelines of the few privileges that permits some Latinos to have a lighter complexion than other Latinos.

The first step we should take is to be actively and vehemently anti-racist and fight systemic racism. Anti-racism is the act of identifying and eliminating racism. Latinos should identify any form of racism within their immediate circle.

Stand up against racist dialogues and ideologies at home, among friends, colleagues, and neighbors. The excuse that “they are from the old country, they don’t know any better” is a sorry excuse to do absolutely nothing and continue the cycle and spread of racism and injustice.

Get educated and learn about Black and African American history; and learn the history and origins of Latinos.

Once you have researched and have a better understanding of Black people’s tumultuous history in the U.S. —as well as in the history of Latin America— use your knowledge to educate and bring about change in your community.

Then finally, vote.

Help move the U.S. forward by voting this November and in every election moving forward because every vote matters. If Black and Brown people don’t come out and vote, this election will be decided by white people—again.

We can make a difference in the U.S, by electing officials and leaders who support bringing an end to police brutality and will work to end discrimination and injustice against Black Americans.

United we stand, divided we fall.

We are greater in number when we fight and vote together.


Kristine Rosa is a first-generation American of Dominica descent who grew up in New York City. She graduated from Penn State and earned her MA at American University. She is based in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.