Politics in Black and Brown: The Prospects for Political Alliances between African Americans and Hispanic Americans
Carey Jr, Tony Eugene
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The similar economic circumstances of blacks and Latinos have led some researchers to argue they should engage in political alliances. Nevertheless, while their economic hardships should serve as a basis for cooperation, they may also lead to conflict, especially within contexts where both groups must compete for scarce material resources. To date, research indicates the influence of economic self-interestson political behavior is circumscribed. Furthermore, recent work shows intergroup attitudes are shaped by economic disparities between blacks and Latinos within their communities; however, the work on this subject has been limited. Using the 1993-4 Multi-City Study of Urban Inequality (MCSUI), I explore whether economic self-interests and realistic group conflict within neighborhoods heighten blacks' and Latinos' perceived group competition and their willingness to exclude each other from the benefits of race-based public policies. Researchers also suggest political elites facilitate political cooperation. By appealing to shared interests, political elites are believed to encourage blacks and Latinos to work together toward common goals. To explore the influence of elite messages, I conduct two experiments that vary the race of hypothetical minority candidates and their political messages. The first experiment uses a 2 (Race: black and Latino) X 3 (Message: Neutral, Ingroup-Specific, Cross-group) factorial design that presents participants with a matchup between a majority (i.e., Anglo) and a minority (i.e., African American or Latino) candidate. The second experiment employs a 3 (Black Message: Neutral, Ingroup-Specific, Cross-group) X 3 (Latino Message: Neutral, Ingroup-Specific, Cross-group) factorial design that offers a contest between a black and Latino candidate. In both experiments, the messages of the minority candidates vary so that they focus on group-specific, cross-group, or group-neutral interests. The analysis contributes to the prevailing literature by showing that conflict between blacks and Latinos is primarily driven by their economic self-interests and perceived group competition. Nevertheless, there is the potential for electoral alliances to occur, particularly when minority candidates avoid messages focused on their own narrow group interests.