In the Shad­ow of Race: Jews, Lati­nos, and Immi­grant Pol­i­tics in the Unit­ed States

Vic­to­ria Hattam
  • Review
By – February 20, 2012

Although Lati­nos cur­rent­ly out­num­ber blacks and are the fastest grow­ing seg­ment of the Amer­i­can pop­u­la­tion, they have not been promi­nent in the his­to­ries of Amer­i­can atti­tudes toward race and eth­nic­i­ty or in the his­to­ries of the rela­tion­ships of Jews with oth­er eth­nic and racial groups. Vic­to­ria Hat­tam, an asso­ciate pro­fes­sor of polit­i­cal sci­ence at the New School for Social Research in New York and the chair­per­son of its polit­i­cal sci­ence depart­ment, seeks to right this imbal­ance. Hat­tam believes that race, not eth­nic­i­ty, remains the most con­vinc­ing par­a­digm for under­stand­ing con­tem­po­rary Amer­i­can pol­i­tics, par­tic­u­lar­ly if one is con­cerned with issues of pow­er and inequal­i­ty and wish­es to see a revival of what she calls pro­gres­sive politics.” 

Jews, blacks, and Lati­nos are deeply divid­ed along social, eco­nom­ic, and reli­gious lines. Hat­tam makes sense of this morass through the prism of her own rad­i­cal polit­i­cal attach­ments, and she ignores fac­tors which chal­lenge her con­clu­sions. Thus she over­looks com­plete­ly the polit­i­cal impli­ca­tions of the high inter­mar­riage rate among Lati­nos and Ang­los and the grow­ing inter­mar­riage rate between whites and blacks, does not dis­cuss the pol­i­tics of the Repub­li­can-lean­ing Cuban-Amer­i­cans of South Flori­da, and scoffs at the Repub­li­can suc­cess in attract­ing the votes of Lati­nos in Texas.

Edward Shapiro is pro­fes­sor of his­to­ry emer­i­tus at Seton Hall Uni­ver­si­ty and the author of A Time for Heal­ing: Amer­i­can Jew­ry Since World War II (1992), We Are Many: Reflec­tions on Amer­i­can Jew­ish His­to­ry and Iden­ti­ty (2005), and Crown Heights: Blacks, Jews, and the 1991 Brook­lyn Riot (2006).

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