Church forum explores racial inequalities

Church forum explores racial inequalities
June 16
09:00 2016

Photos by Timothy Ramsey



Racial inequalities spurred a Wake Forest professor to write a book looking at white people, African-Americans and Latinos.

The professor, Betina Wilkinson, held a forum at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Winston-Salem to discuss her recent book “Partners or Rivals: Power and Latino, Black and White Relations in the 21st Century.”

The book was based on the dissertation Wilkinson wrote during grad school about racial attitudes between blacks, whites and Latinos in the United States. She wanted to delve into whether each group looks at the other as partners or rivals and what factors were involved to influence each group’s thinking.

Born in Argentina, Wilkinson came to the United States at the age of six and was raised in New .”Orleans.  She stated that the racial atmosphere there was very uneasy, and race was very prevalent in her mind at a young age. She wanted an answer to the question, “Where are we today.”

“Even as a child I could see the racial inequalities that were around me,” Wilkinson said.  The book touches on the relationship between the black and Latino groups and how each one relates to the white race, and vice versa. Age, economic status and region of the country are factors that are included as well.  She also touches on the recent upswing in the deaths of black youths such as Trayvon Martin.

The data was collected from a national survey and local focus groups in the city of New Orleans.  Wilkinson stated that some of the most interesting data she found was that people in the certain black communities somewhat resent the Latino population because Latinos pose a possible economic threat to them; they believe that the white employer might hire the Latino before the African-American.

Following the forum, there was a panel discussion during which the participants were able to ask questions of Wilkinson about the book and the data.

The audience was totally engaged and asked a multitude of questions from the size of the survey group, what years the data was collected, to how different the millennial generation feels than baby boomers.

The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship holds forums often and has book reviews, and socio-political discussions as well.

“We thought it would be great to have her here because this group is pretty sophisticated,” said Kenneth Osberg, the forum coordinator.  “We are pretty progressive and open people here at the church, and I was happy to schedule her as soon as I found out about her book.  Having these types of discussions will only help things get better.”

Wilkinson still is optimistic about the future relationship between the races, stating, “When blacks and Latinos have more opportunities and don’t feel discriminated against based on race, then they are more likely to form alliances with one another.”

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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