Black immigrants found contradiction, split between protests


Inspired by global protests against systemic racism and police brutality, Nigerian American blogger Nifesimi Akibebe donated a black shirt that read “I’m Black History” and began recording a video.

Akingbe then listed his frustrations about racism in America and gave his message to black immigrant communities like himself: This is your fight.

“When these cops see us or when some of these racist people see us, they see a black person,” Akibe said during a 34-minute video posted on YouTube. They don’t care if you were born in Alabama, if you were born in Nigeria, in Ghana, in Sierra Leone. They see a color. ”

Akibebe, of suburban Baltimore, is one of the children of several young Black immigrants or immigrants who say they are speaking out for racial equity, as well as trying to convince older members of their communities that these issues are in their Also matters.

“I think their mindset is different,” the 31-year-old told the Associated Press, referring to migrants like her parents.

To be sure, most black immigrants have experienced the brutal legacy of European colonialism, and people in Latin American and Caribbean countries have a history of slavery in their countries.

From the civil rights movement in the US to the current Black Lives Matter demonstrations, there has also been moderate tension in the African American community, speaking of taking a stand against racism. But David Canton, a professor of African American history at the University of Florida, said these are massive tactics.

“Everyone has a role in the movement. People need to learn to live with that and respect people’s decisions.

Like Akingbe, Nigerian American Ade Okupe is negotiating with older migrants in the hope that they will see police brutality as something that affects them as well.

So far, the 27-year-old said, he has not been successful.

“It’s a non-issue for the older generation,” said Ocup, who lives in Parkville, a Baltimore suburb. During some of their chats, the older immigrants told them that they had come to the US to work and provide a better life for their children, not to protest for race.

“They want to make sure they’re not doing anything that gets on the boat,” said Daniel Gillian, “The Loud Minority: Why Protest Matter in American Democracy.”

“They are trying to be good citizens and protests, in their eyes, – to push back and criticize the country – are not their perception of being a good citizen.”

For some immigrants, their attitudes are driven by concerns about their children.

Elsa, an Ethiopian expatriate who lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, was horrified by George Floyd’s police assassination in May and cares about what’s going on. But she also wants to keep her daughter, a college student in Virginia, safe and afraid that her daughter may endanger herself if she participates in the protests.

“I just want him to focus on his education,” Aargega said while speaking his native Amharic language. “People come to this country to work and change their lives, not to argue with the government.”

According to Migration, the number of black migrants in the United States has increased in recent decades, due to family reunification, the entry of refugees from war-torn countries such as Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the diversity visa lottery program. Policy Institute.

This has led to ethnic enclaves in New York City being prominent in the West African communities of the Americas, Ethiopians have made their mark in the Washington, DC, area, and Black immigrants from the Caribbean are prominent in Florida and New York City. Somalis has a huge presence in Minneapolis, where Floyd died below the knee of a white police officer who was later charged along with three other officers.

The global protest movement broke out after Floyd’s death, when police shot and killed 18-year-old Ramarley Graham, the son of a Jamaican immigrant in the Bronx.

In 1999, Amadou Diallo, a Guinea immigrant, was killed in a barrage of 41 shots fired by four white New York City police officers who mistook his wallet for a gun. His death sparked widespread protests, but authorities were acquitted of all charges in 2000. That same year, the fatal police shooting of Patrick Dorizmond, a 26-year-old Haitian American, ignited another wave of protests against police brutality in New York.

Such police killings can be untenable for immigrants, many of whom come to America in search of a better life and then find themselves involved in America’s centuries-old racial conflict.

“When they arrive here and find that they are not treated differently, they begin to feel a certain degree of uneasiness with black Americans,” founder of the Emigrant Legal Resource Center and Law at San University Professor Bill Ong Hing said. Francisco.

In fact, one of the co-founders of the original network of Black Lives Matter was Opal Tommy, the daughter of Nigerian immigrants. Civil rights leader Malcolm X was also the son of an immigrant from Granada.

“At the end of the day, we are all one,” said Quad Enor, 25, a US resident of Ghana who lives in Houston. We are all one community in diaspora, whether you are a black American, but raised. Are you from the African continent or elsewhere. “