The jobless rate for black men in Georgia is nearly triple that of Hispanic men
Rachel L. Swarns:
More blacks than Hispanics fail to meet minimum standards in Atkinson County public schools. And many blacks express anguish at being supplanted by immigrants who know little of their history and sometimes treat them with disdain as they fill factory jobs, buy property, open small businesses and scale the economic ladder.
“If you have 10 factory openings, I would say Hispanics would get the majority of the jobs now,” said Joyce Taylor, the Atkinson County clerk, who is black. “And if you look at the little grocery stores, there are more Hispanic businesses than black businesses.”
“It’s kind of scary,” said Ms. Taylor, 44, whose daughter was laid off from a factory here. “My children, looking forward, it may be harder for them.”
Some Hispanics say African-Americans treat them with hostility and disparage them with slurs, even though blacks know the sting of racism all too well. They say many blacks are jealous of their progress and resent the fact that whites, who dominate the business sector, look increasingly to Hispanics to fill work forces. Blacks say employers favor immigrants because they work for less money.
The killing of six Mexican farm workers in a robbery last year in Tifton, about 30 miles away — and the arrest of four black men in the case — has heightened the friction. Nothing so violent has occurred here, but some Hispanics say black criminals focus on immigrants in this town, too.
Speaking of blacks, Benito González, 51, a Mexican who has worked alongside them at a poultry plant, said: “They don’t like to work, and they’re always in jail. If there’s hard work to be done, the blacks, they leave and they don’t come back. That’s why the bosses prefer Mexicans and why there are so many Mexicans working in the factories here.”
Such images stoke the debate over how to overcome tensions, which flared nationally this year when some African-Americans expressed anger and unease as immigrant groups hailed efforts to legalize illegal immigrants as a new civil rights movement. Although the push in Congress to create a guest-worker program has stalled, concerns about competition between black and immigrant low-wage workers remain.
Those feelings resonate with particular intensity in the South, home to the nation’s largest share of African-Americans and its fastest-growing population of immigrants, according to an analysis of census data by William H. Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution.
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