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Immigrants and minorities

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
I have been thinking about this ever since my dh said in a moment of anger that he just wants to go home (to Ethiopia) where he is respected. I feel so sad for him.

The truth is, people who take the time to get to know him develop serious respect for him, and he deserves it. But he often feels that people are judging him or talking down to him. Oddly (to me) the incidents that he's told me of have all involved African American men, or 2nd or 3rd generation immigrants. White people actually tend to be very careful about what they say, curious about his country, encouraging to him, admiring of his gumption, etc. at least in front of him. He has been able to develop friendships and mentoring relationships with white men without any trouble. OTOH, he has recieved blatant, outright disdain from African American men quite a number of times. One man even told him outright "Until I got to know you, I thought all Africans were ignorant and still living in trees. Lots of us think that way". And this seems to be a theme with all the African immigrants we know, especially the men. In our city just in the last year, there have been several attacks on African immigrants, all by African American males. One was a robbery and murder, in the other case, Somali immigrants were assaulted and robbed in their homes in a housing project, and specifically told to "go back to Africa". Having read some of the Lost Boy's experiences, several of them were also apparently accosted in this way. (Different issue, but, what on earth were the sponsoring charities thinking just dumping brand new immigrants with no language or cultural knowledge into horrible and dangerous housing projects??)

Are we just in a bad spot in the space/time contiuum, where we are running into all of this? Or have others experience similar things? I'm wondering if it is particularly a tension between African-American men and African born men, or if it is something that happens wherever there are "home grown" minorities and recent immigrants.
post #2 of 17
Just ran this past DH, he says he hasn't felt that down here in NC. He agrees with the ignorant part, living in trees not wearing any clothes concept.

He does feel like he's picked on by the cops, though. Our insurance keeps going up due to his tickets......:
post #3 of 17
i think it depends on where you live. here there is a huge african population and i didn't realize how prevalent it was 'til i went clubbing with my senegalese friend and it seemed like every person she ran into was from senegal. how small is the world? so it just seems to depend on locale.
post #4 of 17
Thread Starter 
Hmmm...I guess the 'Burgh needs to adjust it's motto..."The most liveable city...unless you're an African man". :
post #5 of 17
Cappucinosmom, I used to teach in Harlem. The area where I worked was predominantly Afr.American but has a quickly growing African population.
Yes- I did notice a lot of ill treatment toward Africans by Afr. Americans, even by students in my school (obviously learning it from their parents). I'm not sure what it stems from, but there's a lot of animosity there. More than once, I had to have the whole "Black Americans come from Africa" teachable moment. I was told by several students that they didn't "know nothing about no Africa". Out of the mouths of babes come the voices of their parents.
post #6 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by WilliamsMama View Post
Cappucinosmom, I used to teach in Harlem. The area where I worked was predominantly Afr.American but has a quickly growing African population.
Yes- I did notice a lot of ill treatment toward Africans by Afr. Americans, even by students in my school (obviously learning it from their parents). I'm not sure what it stems from, but there's a lot of animosity there. More than once, I had to have the whole "Black Americans come from Africa" teachable moment. I was told by several students that they didn't "know nothing about no Africa". Out of the mouths of babes come the voices of their parents.
I've had a similar experience with my students, both in Florida and Georgia.
post #7 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thank you for sharing! I'm glad to know I wasn't imagining things.
post #8 of 17
This problem is one of the reasons I want to homeschool my children. AA are not taught about the history of themselves. Yeah we learn about MLK and Rosa Parks but I never once learned of slavery in school and most of my friends also say they haven't. So I think this is a kind of self hatred that AA's have that is so ingrained we don't even notice it. Black children also don't learn about Africa so their is an ignorance there and if you look at the media all they show are people with AIDS and kids without clothes and swollen bellies. They don't know of the big cities in Accra and Lagos. Its all about history and I feel so so sad for your husband because it can hurt even worse when it comes from people who look like you. So until their is positve education about AA history (and all people's history) then ignorance will win. Send to your husband hopefully he can overcome.

Rianne
post #9 of 17
I think it is something that happens wherever there are "home grown" minorities and recent immigrants. I am half latina (other half German) married to an Arab and I was so shocked by some of the racist comments I have heard from Latinos living in the US about Arabs. One would think that one minority group that has been discriminated against would have sympathy for another group that is being discriminated against, but unfortunately that is not always the case. Human beings don't seem to learn from our experiences!
post #10 of 17
Thread Starter 
Rianne, that's so interesting. I don't think we've ever thought about it completely, but I suppose what you wrote about could definately fall into our list of reasons to homeschool.
post #11 of 17
I am so glad I can help. If you have anymore questions let me know. I have done many research projects about this problem. It is self hatred that these people have and they don't know, just tell your husband they are jealous

Rianne
post #12 of 17
sigh, this is one of the reasons that my dh is so anxious about living in a small town, he grew up in jakarta indonesia which is HUGE, and now we're living in los angeles, I grew up in rural NC and long to return there, he would never live there. I hope we can agree on charlotte.
post #13 of 17
I totally know what you are talking about. Racism sucks and it manifests itself in such ugly ways. Dh gets it all the time too, but it's a double edge sword for him because outwardly, he appears like he is African American, so East Africans will totally be talking smack until he replies back in the same language. Just like there are misconceptions about people from Africa(the whole living in the trees garbage), there are also misconceptions of African Americans, they're just lazy, don't want to work etc. Both misconceptions happen because both groups tend to stick together and so there is not a clear understanding of each others cultural history.
post #14 of 17
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post #15 of 17
My neighborhood is mostly "black" but is pretty evenly divided between AA, Africans, and Haitians. It seems each group looks down on the other... it's a shame. Inter-minority racism is rampant... I would say it's worse situation than white-minority racism because (unfortunately) it seems more socially acceptable within each group.
post #16 of 17
You know, I was thinking about it a little bit ... I could be way off the mark since it's not an issue of any personal experience, but I have the feeling that any dynamic that exists between African immigrants and African Americans may well be very unique. In the immigrant vs. second (and beyond) generations community dynamic that I'm familiar with there's a lot of the "followers vs. rejectors of old traditions" conflicts, etc, but what it doesn't and can not have is any "here by choice vs. here by an ancestry of force" dynamic. Does that make any sense? I feel like maybe that has more room for misconceptions and tensions just because it is so much more emotionally charged a history.
post #17 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Liquesce View Post
I feel like maybe that has more room for misconceptions and tensions just because it is so much more emotionally charged a history.
i think you are right. my husband is a new immigrant from Ghana, my family is from Haiti, i'm 1st generation Haitian-American and i grew up in Boston, Sf, NYC etc, now me and DH and dd live in VA. i know all about this tensions from all sides--from personal experience and from research and study over 20 years, i teach Black Studies at a university.

there are painful and absurd misconceptions on all sides of the African Diaspora but they didn't come out of nowhere or simply because certain individuals are crazy. these issues are by-products from racism over centuries----Western racism via the media, text, discourses, laws etc has created these ideas and ideals and definitely assisted in keeping these issues alive. i mean what does the typical American, white, Black or other know about Africa or African culture? didn't Sarah Palin assume the continent was a country??? i always start my classes with a "what do you think you know about Africa" exercise and an empty map of the continent and tell my students to fill it out...most have very little knowledge.

as far as the African American community though, there is a lot of unchecked self hatred in the AA community, it is insidiously and sometimes subtlety and not so subtly taught generation to generation. remember AA were forced to despise their own languages, abandon their cultures, religions, hate their dark skin tones, coarse hair etc b/c whites deemed them savage, backward, ignorant, depraved, ugly, subhuman. thus there is still alot of hatred of blackness in the western world, Obama or no. after 400 years or so AA people have absorbed it all. so when AA people attempt to distance themselves from "blackness" by becoming American one vehicle in doing so is to express their disdain for Africa and Africans. because Haitians represent the closest thing to Africans in the Western Hemisphere we too have been looked down on. some folks are conscious of this but some are simply unconsciously acting out a painful history.

another more contemporary reason for this simply what i call the fight for the crumbs instead the pie. AA people are disproportionately undereducated, poorer and more apt to be criminalized in the U.S. any basic stats will validate this. in certain urban centers where this stridently felt, when immigrants come, move-in and seemingly prosper, there is resentment. furthermore, AA often feel and justifiably so, that the fight for Civil Rights was won off their blood and sweat and when other groups prosper via this legacy and don't give AA due credit: more anger, resentment. add this to the history briefed above, tension and more misunderstanding. and as a PP noted, Africans and Caribbeans also have stereotypical ideas and prejudices against AAs as well.

i am sorry your husband has dealt with ignorant and self-loathing people but please let your husband know that there many AA folks and people of the African Diaspora who seek to understand and honor our connection to Africa and love Africans as family/blood. from WEB DuBois to Aime Cesaire to Bob Marley there are Black Diasporians who expressed their love, commitment and respect for Africa. when Amadou Diallo was killed in NYC by the police it was the AA community who protested alongside African immigrants in outrage and grief. Kwanzaa is coming up, perhaps there will be celebrations you can attend to help heal his experiences that may have him thinking negative thoughts against Black Americans. there are two great films 500 Years Later and The Black Candle, that address the history and experience of the African Diaspora. TransAfrica is political organization founded by AA who are committed to working for a better Africa, Danny Glover has been a high-profile representative of that org. for example. my work is to teach young people about Black history and more particularly the importance and richness and realities of Africa, so experiences like that of your hubby's will hopefully be on the decrease....and on another note, informing yourself on Black history can only benefit your children who to some degree, if they grow-up in the States, will be AA as well.

i do wish your DH and family all the best!
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