Black Immigration: Taking Myself Behind the Barn*

On December 5th 2013, I posted a blog entitled “Equality and Fairness” in which I stated off-handedly:

“(By the way, about half the people with African blood in the US have zero American slave ancestry. Yes, like the president. They are descendants of immigrants like me, people who volunteered to come tot his allegedly racist country.)”

Two people came down on me like white on rice demanding a source for this assertion. The first was Professor Terry because he hates good news. He was so foaming at the mouth that he even forgot for a while Harry Belafonte and other immigrants from the Caribbean obviously with African ancestry. Then he demonstrated his racial expertise on how various degrees of blood admixtures define or don’t define the category “black.” Brandon Christensen, the editor of Notes on Liberty, also challenged me for a source mostly because he pillages me every chance he gets.

I have to report that my fast and superficial search did not help me recover the relevant source. I am ninety per cent sure I read it in the Wall Street Journal sometimes since 2010. It could have been in the Oped pages. Trust me, my failure leaves me deeply ashamed.

At any rate, I cited this number to make a substantive point: Liberals who insist that the US is just about as racist as it was in the good old days of Bull O’Connor (when Martin Luther King was marching) have to deal with the disturbing fact of black immigration to the US. I mean by “black” people who come from Africa and people who would tell you they have some African ancestry. Such people come to this country legally and illegally and they come in large numbers.

I am guessing they come here for the same reason that there is no great exodus of people with African ancestry leaving this country. They come because this is very good country with an open heart and loosely enforced laws (Why, what do you know? The Supreme Court ruled recently that it’s illegal for states to enforce some federal laws.)

Let me cite a specialized website that does not address my still-unsourced assertion but something germane to it:

Black immigrants are a significant group in the United States—more than 3 million people comprising 8 percent of the U.S. foreign-born population. **

More than half come from the Caribbean, with the rest mostly coming from Northern and sub-Saharan Africa. A small number also come from Europe and Canada. Black immigrants account for more than one-quarter of the black population in New York, Boston, and Miami.

Now, the foreign born comprise about 13% of the general US population and African-Americans, in the broadest definition, are also about 13%. Yes, we are far from my original assertion. We don’t know how far exactly because we don’t know how many US-born children and grand-children foreign-born blacks have. But they would have to have on average something like 13 or 14 descendants per couple for their total to approximate half of people living in America who have African ancestry. Even if all black immigrants came from rural backgrounds, that might be too high a figure.

This is bad for for my credibility.

Still, I don’t know that the (unreferenced) estimate regarding immigrants and all their descendants for all times of half is too high, or much too high. This does not matter much from a substantive standpoint anyway. People with African ancestry, the very kind of people most likely to be victims of racism according to an obsolete, jaundiced view of this country come here in large numbers.

I know five personally, four Africans and a West Indian who is an executive chef. He hardly ever flies “home.” One African has a college degree and earns a lot of money right here. Another has an advanced degree and performs stellar scientific research of a nature he could only do in a handful of other countries, none in Africa or in the Caribbean. The third is an extraordinary musician, excellently trained in his country of origin, and whose creativity demonstrates that he has obviously overcome his training. The fourth is another musician, a very young man who may be leading a disreputable life as I write. All four are Africa-born, aliens; all four remain in this country at considerable cost and or risk to themselves. None of the Africans ever complains of American racism except sometimes in the presence of African-Americans, of black people born in the US of American parents (Go figure!)

Of course, they would not complain in my presence because they suspect I keep my robes in the back of my pickup truck. No, that couldn’t be, I am a Republican; the KKK was entirely Democrat!

PS : I used to enjoy occasionally at the gym listening to a mean, swarthy complexioned man on MSNBC. Alas Martin Bashir is gone! I wonder how long it will take MSNBC to find another dark-skinned man with an affected English accent and a potty mouth.

* Dear overseas readers: Feel free to ask questions about vocabulary and idioms. (The “idioms,” the idiot is someone else though.)

** The source for this number will remain a secret for the time being. The source for the other numbers is the US Census 2010.

Around the Web: Globalization, Racism and Surfing

  1. Check out this fascinating reddit thread on ‘blackness’ in the US and the UK. As somebody who has spent a fair amount of time outside of the US, and who is interested in ethnicity from a scholarly perspective, the answers were nothing new to me, but it’s always nice when the streets confirm your suspicions.
  2. A beautiful photo essay on surfing in Liberia. I wish there were a traditional essay to go along with the photos, but it still suffices.

I think there are too many people in the world who don’t think hard enough about the benefits of globalization (i.e. world trade). As populism continues to gain traction here in the US (and elsewhere I presume), I fear that the everyday beauty a more globalized world gives to us will be thrown under the bus in the name of The People.