Home > Uncategorized > On the relationship between “African Americans” and black immigrants

On the relationship between “African Americans” and black immigrants

Ah, the elephant. This relationship has been described as strained, volatile, formative, cooperative—all true. It would be foolish to close one’s eyes to the differences between black immigration and “native” African-Americans in how the two “groups” relate to each other and how they each relate to America.  As much as this issue is sometimes unnecessarily sensationalized, there are countless historical and contemporary examples of collaborative projects. The fundamental differences are, in fact, a matter of historical perspective.

Picture a wall.

Historically all black people in America have faced a wall to their achievement of the American dream. Over the centuries, through the sweat and blood many African-Americans, windows have gradually been broken in that wall; windows large enough for people to jump through. Nevertheless, there are still huge chunks of wall remaining. Many African Americans still feel a responsibility to break down what remains of the wall. Some scholars have described the African-American project as a project of TRANSFORMATION.

Enter The Neo African Americans. Most of them come from places so full of walls that when they enter America and they encounter this thing they don’t see a wall; they see windows. In fact, they come here looking for windows, so their main objective in America is to figure out how to jump through those windows. In that regard, they are more immigrant than black. You could call the black immigrant project a project of EXPLOITATION.

These broad differences in perspective sometimes create a tension between black immigrants and African-Americans. It is important to remember that black immigrants are not immune to the walls and in fact any black immigrant who jumps through a window is standing on the shoulders, or bodies, of African-Americans. Before the New York cops shot Ahmadou Diallo or brutalized Abner Louima, it’s unlikely they asked them: “Are you African American?”

Whether you see a window or wall is largely dependent on your socialization.

Looking ahead, whether you see a window or wall is also a question of strategy: Should black people spend energy breaking down the rest of the wall so everyone can just walk through, or jumping through the windows in such numbers that the rest of the walls crumble? The answer is probably somewhere in the middle.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. nikkistheone
    August 29, 2012 at 11:54 pm

    As an African American, I find the comments and actions of many black immigrants objectionable. Blacks here do not trust them because they are quick to separate themselves from us and talk about us like dogs, and then want to benefit from our cultural resources which they have no right to. This, we hate. We believe that black immigrants are two faced, exploitative, phoney, and duplicitous. We do not get to benefit from any aspect of their culture, but they will go all out to benefit from ours, while simultaneously denigrating us, especially to whites, whom they have deluded themselves into thinking they curry favor with.

    Also, black immigrants cannot sustain a conversation about any crime or other negative from their own homelands; to do so goes against the carefully crafted myth of the mealy-mouthed, innocent immigrant, so hard working and innocent, who gets hated on by black americans. Notice we never get to discuss their own biases imported here and their own self-hate issues. We have no problem with black immigrants staying away from us. There is nothing in history that shows us trying to recruit any of them. They come into OUR cultural space in order to use us while denigrating us at the same time. It is important to remember that black immigrants do not co-own our culture or cultural space, we are not their benefactors, and we do not owe anyone anything. If black immigrants would stay away from us, that would be fine. But without an infrastructure in this country since they are immigrants and we are not, they will not stay away from us because they need our resources, a fact that we hate.

    • November 25, 2012 at 7:45 pm

      This is probably the most ignorant comment I’ve ever seen in a long time. No wonder black people is at the bottom, always trying to fight down one another like crabs in barrel. You should do a lot more reading and research, then you would know that YOU too are an immigrant and the only real Americans are the native Indians. As a legal immigrant of the U.S I have to say that you are scumbag and you’re one of the last persons that I would even look at. Thank God there are many other AA that I know that aren’t as ignorant as you. Your country was built on the backs of fucking IMMIGRANTS!! I could understand your resentment of illegal immigrants (and even they are less lazier than some AA who live of welfare), but what about the legal ones that work hard to put money into your pathetic economy at the moment. As far as I’m concerned once you’re legal you’re entitled to ever benefit as AAs because you came to the country the right way and you came with a skill. So fuck off!

  2. Eric mungai
    November 17, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    Excellent article, although i would like to add and say the biggest difference between african immigrants and AA’s is culture.

    • wendy
      July 6, 2011 at 5:06 pm

      not only culture only, but also many have all sorts of unlikely mixtures that PEople in America find suprising in America. although many caribbean blacks dont consider themselves anything other than black even though their mother’s or grandparents are of another race.

  3. December 24, 2009 at 10:45 am

    This is an excellent analogy and examination.

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