Blacks, Latinos share similar experiences in post-Katrina New Orleans

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NEW ORLEANS – African-Americans and Latinos living in New Orleans share remarkably similar experiences and are willing to work together to bridge differences according to a new study released last week by Oxfam America and Dr. Silas Lee & Associates

NEW ORLEANS – African-Americans and Latinos living in New Orleans share remarkably similar experiences and are willing to work together to bridge differences according to a new study released last week by Oxfam America and Dr. Silas Lee & Associates.

The new study, “Building Common Ground,” reveals vast similarities in the post-Katrina experiences of two groups often considered separately in discussions on hurricane recovery and rebuilding.

While the study revealed many of the tensions and misconceptions that existed between the two groups, it demonstrated that there is very fertile ground upon which African-Americans and Latinos can forge new relationships to combat some of the challenges they face together.

The results of the study were recently presented at Xavier University and were followed by a panel discussion. Lydia Camarillo, Vice President of Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, delivered a keynote address following opening remarks from Xavier University president Dr. Norman Francis.

In one key finding, 83 percent of African-Americans and 86 percent of Latinos said building alliances are important to achieving social and economic equity in New Orleans.

“Too often we talk about tensions between African-Americans and Latinos,” said Ilana Scherl, Gulf Coast Field Representative for Oxfam America. “This study demonstrates that African-Americans and Latinos face common challenges, which limit their opportunities to succeed in society.”

The study’s results were driven from a survey conducted in late 2008 by Dr. Silas Lee & Associates of African-Americans and Latinos living in New Orleans. Hundreds of residents were interviewed and participated in focus groups to gauge the issues and concerns affecting these communities.

The study found striking similarities, including:

* A majority of African-Americans (56 percent) and Latinos (88 percent) said their communications and language skills were a major factor in the discrimination they face.

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Copyright 2009 Special to the NNPA from the Louisiana Weekly. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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