As the race to the White House draws to a close, two Chicago museums recognize that the future of black and Latino communities across the nation is at stake—especially as a lack of solidarity persists between both groups.
According to the Chicago Sun Times, many African Americans have been relatively silent on immigration reform while many Latinos have opted not to speak out against police brutality, each disassociating themselves from “hot-button issues” that impact the other. “[There] have just been so many headlines and so many things that have kept us apart,” said Billy Ocasio, CEO of the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture (NMPRAC), of the matter.
It’s the reason why the NMPRAC is partnering with the DuSable Museum of African American History to host “Straight Talk: Black/Brown Unity in a Changing America.” The town hall, scheduled for Thursday (Oct. 20), is the first of its kind to bring community leaders together in one place “in an effort to address a rift called real by some, imagined, by others” in recent years.
“It’s time, because the black and brown communities‚ we’re all suffering, not in the same ways, but by the same root causes, and it’s something we need to communicate to ourselves and to the majority,” said Perri Irmer, President/CEO of DuSable. “When you look at the way [Donald Trump] started a campaign for the highest office in the land by insulting and degrading Mexicans and Latinos, now women, and black people, and the handicapped, and Muslims, it just goes on and on.”
“Black people are involuntary immigrants. We were forced here. And yet, our stories, our experiences can be reflected in the stories of any other group, to an extent,” she continued. “While the black community has suffered in different ways and deeper ways and continues to suffer, it’s still the same root cause targeting Mexican immigrants, Muslims, others. Pain is pain. Racism is racism. And discrimination is discrimination.
The initiative, also triggered by Chicago’s ongoing cycle of violence in communities of color, will be led by nationally acclaimed, Puerto Rican civil rights activist and author Felipe Luciano. “We will discuss on Thursday the realities, the romance, the possibilities and the prayer for unification that’s so desperately needed now between the two communities,” the Young Lords co-founder said. “The legacy we leave behind has to be directed to our youth. Whether we’ve gotten it together or not isn’t important. What is important is that our children have a fighting chance for survival.”