Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A Halfrican's Perspective on Black African Immigrants and Black Americans

In September, the Black Students United at Cornell University sent the school’s president a list of demands, one of which was startling, but only a little.
We demand that Cornell Admissions to come up with a plan to actively increase the presence of underrepresented Black students on this campus. We define underrepresented Black students as Black Americans who have several generations (more than two) in this country.
The Black student population at Cornell disproportionately represents international or first-generation African or Caribbean students. While these students have a right to flourish at Cornell, there is a lack of investment in Black students whose families were affected directly by the African Holocaust in America. Cornell must work to actively support students whose families have been impacted for generations by white supremacy and American fascism.”
I found this and a great deal of other information about this matter at Legal Insurrection. You can read it all here

This attitude reminded me of a post I wrote last year about black African immigrants and American-born blacks – something about which I have a unique perspective. I thought I’d lost the post; apparently, at some point, I accidentally hit the delete button, but I retrieved it via the Wayback Machine and reposted on its original date and time. However, here it is again. The short version: neither the university nor white people in general can fix this.



Today, on Social Media, I requested that my friends and followers submit writing topics to me. One of the suggestions was the difference between African immigrants and black Americans who are descendants of American slavery.

I’ve glanced against the topic before, when making other points.

The Herding, Part One:
Take everything we know about the history of Americans of African descent piece by piece. Our West African ancestors were sold into American slavers -- mostly at the behest of other black Africans. Upon arrival in America, they were forbidden under pain of death, to speak their native languages or use the names with which they had been born. Unlike all other immigrants to America, the African slave was forcibly cut off from these vestiges of the Old Country--essentially the slave became a new creation. The American descendant of American slaves is, thus, wholly and deeply American.

[N]ames, languages, family structures, belief systems (…) have buoyed all other ethnic groups—including recent African immigrants—in their sojourn to this country and all of them had the choice to hold onto the elements of their cultures that fit into the American ideal and discard those which were incompatible. American slaves were granted no such luxury. Our ancestors were emptied of their identities and re-created in the image of what America had for them. And, up until roughly fifty years ago, much of that image was molded by oppression and scorn. 
However, most black Americans held on tightly to the universal totems of personal and communal honor: love of God, family, love of community, industriousness, self-reliance -- all of which also flow and follow from America’s founding document. (That America strayed away from those principles with respect to black Americans isn’t the point, that those principles even existed is. And, with those concrete principles in hand, black Americans were able to point to them and say to other Americans, “live up to your -- to our -- principles.”) 
What we saw in New Orleans after Katrina was a microcosm of the character disintegration of this most American of Americans. It wasn’t born of DNA nor of the historical effects of slavery; it was born of the wholesale abandonment of a character tried and refined by fire and of the principles which held black Americans together in prior times of adversity.
If mother and father don’t love child enough to at least try to create the most tried and true environment for the nurturing of that child, it follows that neither mother, nor father, nor child will love and respect neighbors or community. We declined en masse the prescriptions and proscriptions of God regarding the family and allowed government to usurp the place of the head of the family--the husband/father/leader/protector. We abandoned the identity which our forebears shaped for us and put chaos in its place.
As is obvious and as one might be able to infer from my own heritage—being the 55-year-old offspring of an African immigrant to America and an American descendant of American slaves -- I’ve had plenty of time and reason to give the topic a lot of thought. I don’t think that many involved think through the circumstances far enough, which makes for a lot of animosity between black Africans and black Americans.

My earlier observations point to several factors for the differences, some of which are common among African, black Caribbean immigrants, and other immigrant groups:
  • All voluntary immigrants to America represent the go-getters among their number. It takes uncommon intestinal fortitude to get up and leave everything one knows in order to chase a dream in a foreign land.
  • The birthplaces of all voluntary immigrants provide qualities to be measured. The qualities in question are: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. America almost always wins this measurement contest.

Aside from those observations, there are others to consider.

My father came to America in 1959 via the Mboya Airlift. His group of several dozen gifted students was the first large-scale immigration of black Africans since the end of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Importation. (For the record, the U.S, importation of slaves was outlawed in 1807, but there was still a huge black market—no pun intended—up until the Emancipation Proclamation.)

Mboya Airlift students; I have not been able to pick out my father among them. Attribution.
After the Civil War and before the Johnson-Reed Act of 1924, only a bit over a thousand black Africans immigrated to the USA, the dearth of which was due to the lack of financial resources among most black Africans at the time. The Johnson-Reed Act tamped that number almost down to zero. (It’s interesting to note that this law banned Arab and East Asian immigration outright and that it was a codicil to the Emergency Quota Act of 1921, which was aimed at Southern and Eastern Europeans. I’d like to investigate the effects of those restrictions with respect to Eastern Europeans who were looking to escape Ataturk, Hitler and Stalin in that decade and those following.) 

But, subsequent to the Mboya Airlift, the restrictions on black African and other non-Western European immigration were eased in 1965.
The timing is significant and is the point of this singular observation. African immigrants are indeed the go-getters from among their fellows, but they also began to arrive in America at the right time—when race was becoming less of a factor for all Americans and legal residents who were willing to grab hold to the American dream. One might also note that the moral and societal re-enslavement bait to black Americans was cast at roughly the same time.

Here’s something which just occurred to me today: the underlying assumption that black Africans should be similar in ability and behavior to black Americans is that black African heritage confers a DNA-level inferiority on all of us as compared to other groups.

If it were true that black African-descended persons were genetically inferior to other groups, then it would not matter that African immigrants were the go-getters from among their various tribes. They would still tend to display intellectual inferiority to other immigrants and, indeed, be intellectually inferior to black Americans, since, roughly 80% of black American descendants of American slavery -- including me -- have some European heritage.

But that does not appear to be the case.

Survey Shows Black Immigrants are More Educated, Make More Money than African Americans (sic)

“Black immigrants are doing better economically than Blacks born in the U.S. Household incomes for foreign-born Blacks are, on average, $10,000 higher than U.S.-born Blacks. And Black immigrants are less likely to live in poverty,” according to a Black Enterprise article by Stacey Tisdale.  
The Pew Research Survey also indicated foreign born Blacks were older, more educated than Black Americans and more likely to be married.
According to Census data, more than 43 percent of African immigrants hold a bachelor’s degree or higher -- slightly more than immigrants from East Asia. Nigerian immigrants are especially educated, with almost two-thirds holding college degrees -- a significantly higher percentage even than Chinese or South Korean immigrants. African immigrants are also very likely to hold advanced degrees, many of which are earned at U.S. universities. By many measures, African immigrants are as far ahead of American whites in the educational achievement as whites are ahead of African-Americans.

I have repeatedly pointed to the grave damage done to black Americans by the Great Society Programs and all of its evil progeny, but here’s the one which I believe is the most significant: lack of identity.

Most things labelled as identity are extremely dangerous, and feed on hatred of other identities, but, as I pointed out in my essay about Japan and New Orleans, the dearth of a core identity is just as dangerous in that pointless and evil identities are waiting to fill any such voids. Africans and all other immigrants come to America with their core selves intact and that is what drives most of them, in my opinion. That core self is often culturally-based, but it has an even more important foundation: family honor.

Do I need to go on—again--about what has happened to family honor among the vast majority of Americans who are black? I didn’t think so.

We all know about the pseudo-Africans--those black Americans who seek to cobble together an African identity for themselves; indeed, that's what the creation of Kwanzaa is about. I have occasionally made sport of pseudo-Africans, mostly because I can, but, as I've thought through and composed this essay, I'm feeling less haughty and more inclined to point my identity-less American brethren to a true identity solution:

Create a family, be loyal to and accountable to it. That's what pushes our African immigrant friends further than almost all others. And, it's a solution which we can fashion for ourselves. That goes for all least for now. Seize the Time.

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1 comment:

Linda Fox said...

I know I'm preaching to the choir, but:

I lived in what, in the South, are called "mixed" neighborhoods, for years. Those neighborhoods contained a lot of people without much money. Most had a job, but there were always a portion who depended on "the kindliness of strangers" to survive. Over time, the more ambitious moved on. The less-ambitious stayed, although most complained about how the neighborhood had deteriorated since they had been young.

For those interested, the complainers were not exclusively White. Bitching was an equal opportunity recreation.

I also taught in municipal schools for years. So, I got to know a lot of kids, and their families. What follows is based on those experiences.

(1) Most, in fact, almost ALL kids are born with sufficient brainpower to make an independent, and successful, life for themselves. In other words, they don't start out stupid.

However, habits - laziness, willingness to depend on others, irreligiousness, poor nutrition, and lack of discipline - eventually cripple too many of them to the point that they are just about incapable of supporting themselves.

Many of them - White AND Black - spend their days complaining about how "the system" keeps them from succeeding.

When asked about someone from the same neighborhood who DID succeed, they will respond by trashing that person for "forgetting where they came from". Apparently, that is their codeword for "won't give me a handout".

Immigrants, by definition, are ambitious - at least the traditional ones, who do NOT expect to receive handouts. They are willing to exert themselves far above the norm to reach their goals. And, they HAVE goals.

No, the differences in school performance are not genetic. It's environment. And, even if bussed to another neighborhood, those kids will carry their home environment with them. If their family is one with ambition and personal drive, why, that kid will do well.

If their family is one that sits back and waits for a handout, that kid is extremely unlikely to excel.

Yes, there are exceptions. There are rosebuds placed in the middle of dandelions. But most people follow the easy way - and if that easy way includes waiting for success, they will wait a long time.