A new face of racial tension in America is not black and white but black and brown.

With Latinos recently surpassing African-Americans as the largest non-white minority in the US, the two communities are increasingly being pitted against each other, fighting over jobs, neighbourhoods and political power.

Nowhere is that divide more apparent than in Los Angeles, where the murder rate is up nearly 35 per cent from just a year ago – and where gang warfare is increasingly being waged across racial and ethnic lines.

Of the gang-related murders in LA so far this year, police say most are intra-racial. 

The growing number of racially motivated shootings has created an unmistakable culture of fear in this community, but the problem is by no means isolated.

Black-Brown tensions are also playing out across the country in New Orleans, where in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, African-Americans have been forced to compete with Latino migrants for reconstruction jobs.

Hundreds of thousands of immigrant workers were brought to the Gulf Coast after the storm, taking jobs for long hours and low wages.

The workforce is now almost 30 per cent Latino, while half of the city's mostly-black working poor have not returned.

Against the backdrop of a racially-charged presidential election, Inside USA looks at a different kind of race war: America's Black-Brown divide.

This episode of Inside USA aired from Saturday, April 12, 2008.