Black-Brown Solidarity: Racial Politics in the New Gulf South

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Houston is the largest city in the Gulf South, a region sometimes referred to as the “black belt” because of its sizeable African American population. Yet, over the last thirty years, Latinos have become the largest ethnic minority in Houston, which is surpassed only by Los Angeles and New York in the number of Latino residents. Examining the history and effects of this phenomenon, Black-Brown Solidarity describes the outcomes of unexpected coalitions that have formed between the rapidly growing Latino populations and the long-held black enclaves in the region.Together, minority residents have put the spotlight on prominent Old South issues such as racial profiling and police brutality. Expressions of solidarity, John D. Márquez argues, have manifested themselves in expressive forms such as hip-hop music, youth gang cultural traits, and the storytelling of ordinary residents in working-class communities. Contrary to a growing discourse regarding black-brown conflict across the United States, the blurring of racial boundaries reflects broader arguments regarding hybrid cultures that unsettle the orders established by centuries-old colonial formations. Accentuating what the author defines as a racial state of expendability—the lynchpin of vigilante violence and police brutality—the new hybridization has resulted in shared wariness of a linked fate. Black-Brown Solidarity also explores the ways in which the significance of African American history in the South has influenced the structures through which Latinos have endured and responded to expendability. Mining data from historical archives, oral histories, legal documents, popular media, and other sources, this work is a major contribution to urban studies, ethnic studies, and critical race theory.

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“The contemporary “postracial” United States Márquez explores in Black-Brown Solidarity doesn’t appear to crave critique at all, no matter how much progress might be gained from it. Nevertheless, Márquez provides a timely critique in this thorough investigation of histories of violent oppression, internalized colonization, multiracial coalitions and activism, and constructed identities.” (Aztlan)

“This book enters the annals of important scholarship, making significant contributions to the literature.” (Choice)

Black-Brown Solidarity provokes the reader to rethink traditional perspectives about race, ethnicity, class, gender and justice as they relate to research, theory and political activism.” (Ethnic and Racial Studies 2014-10-21)

“An imaginative, challenging, and intellectually stimulating contribution to the subjects of race, class, cultural hybridity, activism, systematic racial oppression, and the demographic and cultural future of America—all in Baytown, Texas.” (East Texas Historical Journal 2018-08-06)

About the Author

Dr. John D. Márquez is an Associate Professor in the Department of African American Studies and the Latinx Studies Program at Northwestern University.

Houston is the largest city in the Gulf South, a region sometimes referred to as the “black belt” because of its sizeable African American population. Yet, over the last thirty years, Latinos have become the largest ethnic minority in Houston, which is surpassed only by Los Angeles and New York in the number of Latino residents. Examining the history and effects of this phenomenon, Black-Brown Solidarity describes the outcomes of unexpected coalitions that have formed between the rapidly growing Latino populations and the long-held black enclaves in the region.Together, minority residents have put the spotlight on prominent Old South issues such as racial profiling and police brutality. Expressions of solidarity, John D. Márquez argues, have manifested themselves in expressive forms such as hip-hop music, youth gang cultural traits, and the storytelling of ordinary residents in working-class communities. Contrary to a growing discourse regarding black-brown conflict across the United States, the blurring of racial boundaries reflects broader arguments regarding hybrid cultures that unsettle the orders established by centuries-old colonial formations. Accentuating what the author defines as a racial state of expendability—the lynchpin of vigilante violence and police brutality—the new hybridization has resulted in shared wariness of a linked fate. Black-Brown Solidarity also explores the ways in which the significance of African American history in the South has influenced the structures through which Latinos have endured and responded to expendability. Mining data from historical archives, oral histories, legal documents, popular media, and other sources, this work is a major contribution to urban studies, ethnic studies, and critical race theory.

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