My knowledge of black immigrants is substantial when comparing generally, but as an African American who is uncertain of their ethnic background, I’ve derived most of my knowledge from friends who are first generation immigrants of either the Caribbean or Africa. I do understand how diverse black American backgrounds are, and when talking to other black Americans or Americans of other races it can be obvious that there is a lack of knowledge about all the places black people live and immigrant from. There is always more to learn, but I like to think that I am about seventy percent there since I don’t have many first-hand interactions with black immigrant culture. Similar to any other group of immigrants, most leave their home counties in order to pursue opportunities that may not be tangible where they lived prior to immigrating.
According the Pew Research Center, the black immigrant population has increased five-fold since 1980. The transatlantic slave trade caused there to be a large population of black immigrants involuntarily, but since the 16th century black migration had rapidly increased due to voluntary relocation as well. “Between 2000 and 2016, the black African immigrant population more than doubled, from 574,000 to 1.6 million. Africans now make up 39% of the overall foreign-born black population, up from 24% in 2000.” In 2016, 8% of blacks were second-generation Americans – meaning they were born in the U.S. but have at least one foreign-born parent, according to the Center’s analysis of the Census Bureau’s 2016 Current Population Survey. In total, black immigrants and their children make up roughly one-fifth (18%) of the overall black population in the U.S.
Anti-Blackness in Immigration:
Anti-Black rhetoric and policies within immigration discourse can be seen in the language that is used by natural citizens throughout history. Treating immigrants like the “other” translates into a similar attitude within the policies that are passed through the American government. For example, Western preferences for ‘white’ immigrant’s construct ‘whites’’ position at the top of two intersecting hierarchical systems: one a racial system, and the other a hierarchy of nations that some refer to as the world system. Whiteness is not shaped in isolation, for the processes that construct the top construct a hierarchies’ bottom (Bashi 1998, Winant 2001) Cultural and biological arguments have been used in America’s history in order to make blackness seem inadequate, and as other groups of immigrants such as Asians no longer were a priority of discrimination black immigrants shifted to the primary focus. The language of national quotas did not specifically deny black entry in the 1920s, but scientific racism was used to deny entry to all ‘inferior races’ on grounds that ‘immigrants’ poor performance [was attributable] to Negroid strains inherent in their biological character’ (Wang 1975, p. 61).
Vilna Bashi (2004) Globalized anti-blackness: Transnationalizing Western immigration law, policy, and practice, Ethnic and Racial Studies, 27:4, 584-606, DOI: 10.1080/01491987042000216726
The mission statement of the UndocuBlack Network claims a multigenerational network of currently and formerly undocumented Black people that fosters community, facilitates access to resources and contributes to transforming the realities of our people, so we are thriving and living our fullest lives. Immigrant rights and racial justice for African American and black immigrants is the focus of BAJI, which stands for The Black Alliance for Just Immigration. Alliances such as these two help communities of black immigrants organize their goals and educate themselves on policy.
From this week I gained a better knowledge about the numbers of black immigrants that live in the United States. The rate of immigration in recent years stood out to me compared to prior decades. I also enjoyed learning about unions of blacks who are fighting for their rights as both immigrants and people of color.