Back in January, we told about about Hakeem “Chamillionaire” Seriki’s noble decision to financially assist the family of Jorge Garcia, a Detroit resident and family man who was deported from the country after living here for 30 years. Shortly after his story went viral, Chamillionaire went on social media to defend his choice to help the Garcia family in a series of videos that eventually sparked a new conversation that needs to be had among African American and Latinx communities throughout the U.S.
For the unfamiliar, the CEO of Chamillitary Entertainment has evolved from Grammy Award winning rapper to philanthropist and angel investor. Last year, he joined the likes of Trae Tha Truth, who lent a major hand after Hurricane Harvey by establishing his Robin’s Heart Foundation. One would think that a Houston, Texas native with a history of working with prominent Latinos and a knack for helping others would be the perfect candidate to assist the Garcia family. However, according to an overwhelming amount of Cham’s 171K Instagram followers, that’s not the case.
“Once the article came out that detailed how I wanted to help this family,” Chamillionaire said, “people who are actually real and really feel that way reached out to me through all different methods (email, general messages on Instagram, all over the place) to send me long, detailed articles about why I was wrong.”
Recently, Latino USA dug deep within Cham’s Instagram comments in each of the six videos he posted regarding Jorge Garcia and found a sea of mixed opinions from fans, activists, and other trolls who felt like chiming in. Among the overpowering comments praising the “Ridin’ Dirty” rapper, there are comments from fellow PoCs that shame Cham, whose parents are immigrants, for helping Latinos instead of African Americans.
“I know people are going to have their different opinions,” Cham continued. “But I think it’s wrong for me not to state how I really feel about this situation and be quiet when so many people who hate are very open and transparent about their hate. They put it all over social media, and when they do that the quiet voices stay in the shadows. So I was like ‘You know what? I’ll take the hate.'”
In “the land of the free” where racism still runs rampant, African Americans and Latinx’s should be united on all fronts when it comes to injustice. So why do both African American and Latino communities continue to clash about vital issues plaguing both sides, and why is it so taboo? Arianna Curtis, a curator of Latino studies at the National Museum of African American History & Culture of African American and Panamanian descent, believes she has the answer.
“African Americans and Latinx’s are often pitted against each other as groups of competition rather than groups of solidarity,” Curtis told Latino USA. “So I think that is what people vicirously respond to when they see a black person going out of his way, or what is considered going out of his way, for someone outside of his community when perhaps they don’t know anything publicly what he does for his own community, just people asking for receipts.”
There’s also another underlying problem that PoC’s struggle to address. Stereotyping amongst Latinx’s and African American communities happens all across America from the projects all the up to the White House. The divisive political climate we are currently living in doesn’t do much to make the situation better.
“Immigration is such a political issue right now, and there are these perceptions of immigrants displacing people’s jobs,” Curtis explained. “We really have to interrogate stereotypes within communities of color, not just anti-blackness in Latinx communities but specifically anti-African American sentiment in our communities and Anti-Latinx sentiment in African American communities.”
Ironically, Chamillionaire is finally in talks with Jorge Garcia’s family thanks to one of his social media followers. Listen to Latino USA’s interview with Chamillionaire below.