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Al Sharpton Speaketh On Black-latino Relations

Strangely, that Bill Richardson quote Josh cited late last night has been cut from The New York Times story he found it in. Fortunately, there's this equally mystifying Al Sharpton comment to compensate:

The Rev. Al Sharpton of New York, who has been on the front line of many of the black-Latino battles in New York politics, said the tension would be a problem for Mr. Obama across the country and in New York, which also votes on Feb. 5. He said Mr. Obama would be at a disadvantage because of his choice to be a “race-neutral candidate.”

Maybe I'm missing something, but I don't see why, if black-Latino tensions are a potential pitfall, running as a race-neutral candidate is a detriment rather than a benefit.

To be fair, Sharpton does go on to say that “we’ve made some progress. But he has not been part of those efforts to make progress.” This may be what he was getting at. But it cuts against the rest of the piece, which suggests that black-Latino tensions remain a problem. And I don't see why Obama wouldn't benefit from whatever progress has been made. How would most Latino voters know he hadn't been part of it? (For that matter, Obama claims he has reached out to Hispanics in Illinois.) And why would it matter if they did? My definition of progress is a more enlightened attitude toward all African-Americans, not just those who worked out backroom deals with a handful of Hispanic politicians.

--Noam Scheiber