The new immigration infuses America with new minority groups. This spells trouble for the old strategies of black uplift. New coalitions will require new concepts of disadvantage, affirmative action, and desert.
The political rhetoric of civil rights-- its ideology, iconography, and martyrology-- has always kept the stirring black struggle for equality on center stage. At the same time, this rhetoric has treated the immigrant's drama as peripheral, rather like Shakespeare's (not Stoppard's) treatment of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. There are signs, however, that the audience's attention has begun to wander, diverted by the performaces of immigrant groups on other stags. These developments make the relationship between civil rights and immigration ripe for reexamination.
Like a great glacier carving valleys, feeding rivers, and depositing soil, immigration is reshaping America's character and future -- her economy, workforce, family structures, demography, culture, cuisines, languages, and politics. Yet of all the first-order policy issues facing the nation, this may well be the hardest one for us to approach rationally.