Back to the Back of the Bus? (Editorial)

By John Tanton
Published in The Social Contract
Volume 5, Number 4 (Summer 1995)
Issue theme: "Blacks and immigration"

The black leadership has never been very active on immigration policy questions. The reasons are probably several. On the national level there doubtless has been some sense of solidarity with other 'people of color.' This includes those already here, such as the highly variegated Hispanic lobby, and as expressed in the phrase 'Rainbow Coalition.' Perhaps the sentiment also includes many current immigrants, who as it happens are mainly non-white.

This solidarity is showing some erosion as the more strident among the putative Hispanic leadership have started looking forward with unconcealed glee to the time when their folks will surpass blacks numerically, and hence in political power. With the additional disadvantage (advantage?) of a language barrier that has constituted another claim on government, it may well turn out that it is not whites but immigrants of (other) colors that send the blacks 'back to the back of the bus.'

One hundred years ago Booker T. Washington saw this competition clearly. We're pleased to commemorate the centennial of his speech to the Atlanta Cotton States and Southern Exposition (September 18, 1895) in which he appealed to industrialists to hire blacks to staff their expanding factories, rather than import immigrants. What a different country we would have had they followed his advice!

We need to distinguish between the national leadership and the rank and file. Professor Jackie Jackson cites the Tarrance-Hart poll of 1983 (see the table on p.249 - since reaffirmed by other polls) revealing that average folks competing for jobs, housing and social services understand the concept of supply and demand quite well, even if their leaders do not. The Jackson article is as current as when written in 1988.

Later this year we will follow up with an issue on 'immigration and affirmative action.' We are assem-bling materials that show the very substantial inroads that immigrants, many of whom qualify for preferential treatment the moment they step off the boat, are making into programs initially conceived primarily to aid American-born blacks. For those who want to get rid of affirmative action, the abuses by immigrants will provide one more rationale. Those who wish to retain affirmative action will need to come up with ways to limit it to the American-born minorities for whom it was intended.

The extent of the problem faced by blacks is outlined by Roy Beck in his article, the title of which I borrowed as a theme for this editorial. John Sullivan adds further evidence, noting that in California 56 percent of blacks supported Proposition 187. Richard Estrada of the Dallas Morning News details black prospects in the face of high levels of immigration, and Jonathan Kaufman writes in the Wall Street Journal (a newspaper that is no friend of immigration control) about the competitive relations between blacks and Asians, Koreans in particular. Those wishing to follow this line further should definitely look up 'Blacks vs Browns' by Jack Miles in the October 1992 Atlantic. Tara Murphy, an urban refugee from Los Angeles, picks up on the Hispanic supremacists' 'We Shall Overwhelm' theme in an article of that title, and economist Vernon Briggs closes this section with another look at the economic competition between blacks and immigrants.

This is our effort to alert our black fellow citizens to the problem that they (as well as we) face. We hope that the centennial of Washington's speech will stimulate thinking and re-thinking on the question.

The center section of this issue presents some fascinating material a Bangladeshi student's appeal to migrate to the U.S. along with Richard Lamm's thoughtful reply; Ira Mehlman's comments on the reception of Peter Brimelow's book, Alien Nation; and a related article on racial/ethnic change in Texas by Cord Meyer. James Robb, who wrote about the Scalabrinian Fathers in our previous issue, asks what the Vatican City-State's immigration policy is. Linda Thom continues her statistical analyses by looking at the correlations between birth rates, welfare use and crime. Don Barnett follows up on the abuse of SSI by immigrants, and Larry Richards of the Software Professional's Political Action Committee lets us know - if we had not found out already - that even good middle class jobs can be wiped out by immigration.

Associate Editor Wayne Lutton has done a fine job of assembling our book review section. This can save you some reading time on a number of important titles - how else can one keep abreast of the growing blizzard of significant materials coming along? We hope this section will assist you in this regard.

Here's to some pleasant and profitable summer reading!

John Tanton, Editor and Publisher

About the author

John Tanton is Editor and Publisher of The Social Contract and founder of FAIR, the Federation for American Immigration Reform. His personal website is

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