June 8, 2001


Villaraigosa's Loss Raises Questions Amongst the "People of Color"

What first appeared to be a "slam-dunk" for the "people of color" in Los Angeles' mayoral race, has instead brought to light the serious breach between the African-Americans and the Mexican-American/Latino communities in L.A.

It is now clear that Mayor-elect Jim Hahn was able to win the closely contested race only after the Black political leadership of Maxine Waters, Yvonne Brathwaite Burke, and Nate Holden turned their backs on Antonio Villaraigosa. Rather than offer him their support, they actively campaigned for Jim Hahn. In doing this, they turned their backs on the first Latino who ever had an opportunity to become Mayor of Los Angeles, a person who in all probabilities could have become a national leader for America's burgeoning Latino population.

Latinos comprise 46.5 % of the Los Angeles population. They are the largest, single demographic group. Whites on the other hand make up 30%. African-Americans constitute the other major block of voters. With the support of the Black voters, Villaraigosa could have won the election to become the Mayor of Los Angeles.

Jim Hahn, a strong law and order proponent, received support from White conservatives, the Republican party and Black voters. Villaraigosa received the Latino, Jewish and working class Democratic Party voters. The African-American communities, under the mis-guided leadership of their political leaders, fell into the well-laid trap of divide and conquer. Under the vitriolic attacks led by Maxine Waters, the African-Americans were used to defeat the election of one of the most accomplished and charismatic Latino politicians in the state, and perhaps the nation.

The Black leadership and their followers may have assisted in closing the door on any further cooperation between the African-American and Mexican-American communities of California. Have they forgotten that the roadways between our communities flow both ways? They are not one way streets. This betrayal of trust may well change the political landscape in California and the nation. Where once there was trust, there is now a wide abyss. The ramifications go far beyond the city of Los Angeles.

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