Yesterday, I started a nice debate with my post on the Increase in Immigration and the Decrease in Crime. An unknown gentleman, named Mustapha (not to be confused with my friend from the post on changing names), entered the debate and gave a very interesting explanation on why he feels that immigrants (like himself — he is Nigerian American) eventually succeed in assimilating and overcoming racism by accepting “whiteness” while African Americans continue to struggle to find their place in white America.
Note that immigrants, be them from Europe (white) or from other parts of the world (Asia, Latin America, and elsewhere), have always suffered some form of racism/xenophobia in the first generations (including my father’s family as Italian Americans). Actually, I once had an Immigration Law professor who argued that America was essentially anti-Catholic, and that was why discrimination against immigrants has always been mainly directed towards Catholic immigrants (Irish, Italians, and Latin Americans).
Back to the debate: agree or not with his analysis, I think that Mustapha’s comments are well worth reading for anyone interested in the great complexities of race relations and their historic legacy, American cultural diversity, and the US as an immigrant-built nation. Here is his commentary:
. . . I am [from] Nigeria and can understand why your Nigerian and African friends would say what they said [that they do not identify with African Americans]. Its one part ignorance and one part self exaltation. Let me explain.
I used to think just like they did when I first came here. I hated Afro-Americans (”AA”) and wanted nothing to do with them. They were lazy, dancing, basketball playing, rap singing, good for nothing niggas. I could not stand AA women. now, I;m married to one. Why? misconceptions based on experience without understanding the nature of the problem.
I make no excuses for AA that is not warranted. As I tell my wife, I am the first to criticize AA and the first to make excuses for them. As far as accomplishments, say what U want, but did Africans (who enjoyed privileges during segregation) or White Americans, or other minorities march and get hosed during the civil rights movement? Were they the victims of 400 yrs of free labor we call slavery? not to mention Jim Crow? Now, these arguments sound old and played but they have much significance and b/c we call them old and played is why we never get to the bottom of the issue.
AAs have a serious identity crisis. They R the only Black people in a predominantly White western country that can be called something like “indigenous” (respecting that the native Americans R the truly indigenous ones). Some can’t decide whether to stay or go (Garveites). Some can’t decide whether to integrate or segregate (Malcolm v. Martin). Some can’t decide whether being educated means being a pawn or being un-educated means keeping us back. There R tons and tons of factors that make up the AA identity. As an African, I can only empathize, not sympathize.
Immigrants come here looking for an opportunity to make money. They make $$ here and send it back home. If it wasn’t for money, they would never come. do you see a load of immigrants from Norway or Saudi Arabia? Immigrants are less likely to commit crime b/c they R too concerned about making money and fitting in – integrating. Italians and Irish, although White, had to integrate and “become” accepted Whites. Its no different for toher immigrants – even the brown ones. Thus, every immigrant is trying to fit into a certain perception of what is acceptable. If you are of European origin, you might one day become “White”, if you are from other than that, you find your place by other means – good job,education, homes, etc. If you don’t believe me about the Italian and Irsih thing, ever seen Gangs of New york or the book I think titled “How the Irish became White”. In essence, everyone wants to become “White,” so what’s the AA’s problem?
He is not an immigrant and he does not want to become White. He feels a sense of entitlement – which has become a hinderance with the over dependency on welfare. He feels that this is his country, which it is but has been marred with hurdles such as segregation, medical apartheids, de facto segregation, and latent racism. Racism is usually spoken in terms of AA b/c they have been the most vocal against it while other benefit from their struggles. The immigrant is a stranger looking to be accepted while the AA is a native fighting to be non-White and at the same time accepted – which is one of the causes being being called Uncle Toms, etc.
My general advise to AAs, and who am I to give advise, is that one should be proud to be American, be proud to be Black, take matters into your own hands and demand what ever rights you believe belong to you. Many leaders have done that and many will continue to do that. The AA population that is fast asleep R the ones that people tend to concentrate on as examples of AA failures. If not for the civil rights movement and other such movements, many of us would not have the type of benefits we enjoy.
I am an upper middle class African who enjoys fancy food and clothes and should care a rat’s ass tail about AA, but I do. The problem can only be resolved with “education.” . . .