DO BLACK PEOPLE IN AMERICA BELONG TO AN "ETHNIC" GROUP? More than one? Are African Americans an "ethnic" group? When I was growing up during the Black and proud era of the 1960s and 1970s, those questions would have struck me as absurd. Of course, Blacks in this country belong to one race, their ethnic or tribal identities severed by the forced migration from Africa and then blended into an unrecognizable mix during centuries of marriage and child bearing.
But that was before the flood of Black strivers from the Caribbean and Africa arrived, starting with a fairer immigration law adopted in 1965 and quickening apace with each passing decade until now, more Africans- 1 million- have come to these shores by choice than are estimated to have been shipped here in chains during the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Outnumbering the newcomers from the continent are recent immigrants from the nearby Caribbean.
The latest estimates from the Census Bureau put the number of foreign-born Blacks at 3 million, or about 8 percent of the country's Black population of nearly 34 million. To get a sense of how much Black immigration has grown, know that the comparable figure in 1960 was 1 percent. Still, 8 percent, or about one out of 12, seems like a small minority of a minority, and it is, nationally. The Black immigrants, though, make up a significant proportion of the Black population in major cities along the East Coast: 30 percent in Boston, 33 percent in New York City and Miami, for instance.
In those and other Eastern cities, including Washington, D.C., some of those immigrants are asserting they are different from native-born Blacks and, sometimes in so many words, superior to them. Some don't want to be called "African American," preferring to be identified by their nationality, say Jamaican or Haitian. For some continental immigrants, just "African" will do. There are even Caribbean immigrants who reject being labeled "Black," which in the Census definition means the same race as African American. Many newcomers apply "African American" only to U.S.-born Black folks.
Black voluntary immigrants to America are not new, nor are the tensions with those who have been here longer. Opportunity seekers from the Cape Verde Islands off the West Coast of Africa started coming during the 1860s, initially to work on whaling ships and in cranberry bogs in Massachusetts, a state where many continue to arrive to this day. After the Haitian Revolution of 1804 and the 1833 abolition of slavery in the British Empire, a trickle of immigrants from the Caribbean flowed into the country. More West Indians came in the early 1900s and later to work in defense plants during World War II.
Those ancestral distinctions mostly faded over time, though Cape Verdeans maintain a strong nationalistic identity. Some don't regard themselves as Black; others do, and have intermarried with the native-born.
The longer I thought about who might constitute Black ethnic groups in America, the more Cape Verdeans seemed to qualify. So too Black Hispanics, since Hispanics are an ethnic group who can be of any race. African immigrants have ethnic identities as Yoruba or Akan, for example, though some people speak of "Africans" in general as an ethnic group. In one episode of the NCIS television series, an investigator who determines a dead man is a Sudanese "Lost Boy" tells coworkers: "He's not African American. He's African African."
Genetic analysis has helped a small number of American-born Blacks discover ancestral tribal links in Africa. One scholar has been reconstructing the ethnic identities of slaves sold in Louisiana, using historical records, research that could conceivably help genealogy trackers establish ethnic heritages. Slavery and African Ethnicities in the Americas: Restoring the LinL· is the title of the 2005 book by Gwendolyn Midlo Hall, now retired as a history professor at Rutgers University.
Even for early voluntary immigrants of the 1880s, time has weakened those links. I once met a Black professor in Iowa who told me his forebears relocated from Haiti to New Orleans, before travelling up the Mississippi River to the heartland. Along the way, the family surname, Pouillard, was modified from French into Pollard. He shared that family history as a matter of fact, but nothing about his look or manner distinguished him as "Haitian" and he didn't so identify himself. More recently, I had a similar exchange with a San Francisco lawyer whose French maiden name, Fortier, reflects her family's emigration from Martinique. The senior city councilman in Boston, Charles Yancey, has roots in the Bahamas dating back to the 19th century. The foreign-born part of Miami's Black population was actually bigger in 1896-40 percent- than it is today, because of the transplants from the Bahamas who came to work on farms and in fisheries.
As the immigration status of the early arrivals changed, and what was then called assimilation occurred, most of their descendants just became colored or Negro or Black, whichever was the popular term of the day. The cost of travel by sea or air was so high, most never went "back home," even to visit. International communication, except by mail, was expensive.
Segregation pressed all Black people, regardless of national origin, into the same neighborhoods, schools and occupations. Competition over resources and cultural differences and a touch of xenophobia caused tensions, which surface in the literature of the Harlem Renaissance. The Back-to-Africa movement led by Jamaican-born Marcus Garvey attracted support from Caribbean immigrants but disdain from some native Blacks who sneered at the colorful uniforms and theatrical touches of his grand parades in Harlem.
Still, native- and foreign-born Blacks worked together in the common cause of overthrowing the stifling, degrading limits of segregation. There are other examples, but the best may be Stokely Carmichael, leader of the "Black Power" movement of the 1960s. He was a Trinidad native who emerged as a student leader at Howard University, which has a long tradition of educating Black students from abroad. It never seemed to matter much to Carmichael's followers that he had been born in another country.
More recently, the wave of Black immigration post-1965 has led to another way of seeing and articulating what difference country of birth makes. Instead of a matter of immigration status and national origin, which can change over time and does instantly for children born in America, some scholars for at least a dozen years have been defining the differences as "ethnic," a categorization that could prove more enduring and possibly divisive.
"There is this ongoing ethnicization of the Black American population. It's actually going on under the radar screen. People are not really aware of it because African immigrants resemble their African American counterparts," observes Yvette Alex-Assenoh, a political science professor at Indiana University, in a 2009 documentary about the subject, The Neo-African- Americans.
Mary C. Waters, a White scholar who was raised in Brooklyn and teaches sociology at Harvard University, affirmed Black ethnicity in her 1999 book, Black Identities: West Indian Immigrant Dreams and American Realities. She dismisses as "nonsense" the American idea that "Black racial identity and the solidarity that it entails" obliterates all other identities. "Italians and Poles are ethnic groups, as are Cape Verdeans, Jamaicans and Ethiopians," Waters concludes.
This identification of Blacks in America as members of distinct ethnic groups has its complexities. For one thing, ethnicity has different definitions, which can change depending on where a person is and who surrounds them. An ethnic group can be defined by race, culture, genes or nationality, or more than one of those.
Geography matters. A Mexican doesn't become "Hispanic" - an ethnic grouping conceived by the Census Bureau- until across the border in the United States. A Yoruba may identify as such in Nigeria, but as a Nigerian or African in this country, unless surrounded by immigrants of different African ethnicities.
"My ethnicity would be Yoruba, but here it's not really salient. There isn't something cultural about it thaf s salient to me," says Johnson Elugbadebo. The financial services analyst at the Federal Reserve Bank in Washington, D.C., who is 31, emigrated with his parents from Nigeria at age 3 and grew up in Carbondale, 111. He considers himself African American.
Americans have a fixation on race, however much the concept has been debunked as unfounded on genetics but based instead on social constructs. Calling someone an Italian American or Polish American expresses ethnicity, as defined by the national origin of ancestors, but each is still White, which has more social significance. Some Black immigrants are doing something different: Asserting an ethnic identity, often based on national origin, and rejecting membership in a race, no matter how obvious African descent may be. That category includes some immigrants from Haiti, whose original 1805 constitution declared all its citizens to be Black.
More is at stake than what someone calls himself or herself. How Black immigrants fill out the decennial Census form could lower the number counted as "Black or African American," affecting the distribution of federal grants and the apportionment of congressional, legislative and city council seats. The mobilization of Black voters can become more difficult, and in some cities already has, if they don't see themselves as belonging to the same community and sharing similar interests. On a day-to-day level, native- and foreign-born Blacks inhabiting the same neighborhoods can be so estranged they do not unite to address common problems where they all live.
I live in Boston, and have observed the community-weakening effects of Black immigrants distancing themselves from Black residents born in America, who in many cases have been less than welcoming to the newcomers or outright resentful of their presence. Boston, though about 25 percent Black and since 2000 with a non- White majority, is one of the few large cities that has never elected a mayor of color. I'm convinced a major reason is that the Black community is so internally divided, along lines some describe as "ethnic" - though other divisions exist too. I also know, in an earlier generation, those distinctions were overcome to unite to fight against school segregation and for a larger share of political power. The same is true in places like Brooklyn.
I MET KOBINA AIDOO IN 2006, when he was a graduate student and I was a fellow at Harvard University. Aidoo, born in Ghana, told me his story in short form, how a strong score on the SATs landed him admission to Barry University in Florida and how his academic performance there got him into Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, where he has since earned a master's degree. The 34-year-old is now a consultant to the World Bank in D.C.
What I didn't know until recently was that Aidoo's career goal initially was to be a filmmaker. Besides his day job, he has continued to pursue that ambition, producing what he calls a "living documentary" about race, ethnicity and identity through multiple voices of recent Black immigrants. We stayed in touch through Facebook, and Kobina shared with me a DVD of The Neo- African- Americans.
Shot in New York, Miami, D.C, Chicago, Los Angeles, Maine and Ghana, those voices reflect how "incorporation" - the word that sociologists use these days instead of assimilation-of Black immigrants into the African American mainstream is a widespread issue. Aidoo introduces a few academics to provide broader context, but for the most part he steps back and allows his diverse interviewees to look into the camera and talk about how they identify themselves - or not.
"I don't consider myself an African American, even though I've been here for forty years. I'm Jamaican," says one woman.
A South African who immigrated a decade ago says, "Frankly, I don't want to be considered African American" because "American" is "factually inaccurate." She has not naturalized and changed her citizenship. Aidoo labels her "African non-American."
Other perspectives are represented. An immigrant dressed in traditional African dress says he is a "pure African in America." A mechanic of Nigerian birth does call himself "African and American." A woman born in New York of immigrant parents from Ghana says: "I'm a true African American."
The documentary maintains a high-minded but honest tone. Aidoo is motivated by a desire to bring people together, concluding at the end that "the differences hardly make a difference." He has shown the video and led discussions about it 100 times, mostly on college campuses, trying to bridge the gaps between immigrant and U.S.-born Blacks.
"I think it is allowing Black people to think about their diversity," Aidoo explains in an interview. "Black people have been pushing diversity in the country. Now we have to confront diversity within our own ranks. Some may see it as divisive. I don't think it has to be. Diversity brings unity. I think of it more as a coalition that comes together when interests intersect."
There is, though, an uglier side to relations between Black folks born here and elsewhere. Some immigrants have adopted a stereotyped image of the native-born and express attitudes that, if spoken by White people, would be condemned as racist. That is why some don't want to be called African American or even Black- to cast themselves as a different, better kind of Black people. Referring to Caribbean immigrants, Milton Vickerman, a University of Virginia sociologist, describes that superiority complex as "southern exceptionalism."
Naturally, American-born Blacks resent such attitudes, and may feel a sense of rejection from people who look just like them. But the resentment can run deeper and broader. Out of what seems like perpetual insecurity, some Black Americans fear the new immigrants, just as White ones did in the last century, will squeeze them out of jobs and the best colleges and leapfrog them on the socio-economic ladder.
Those feelings are grounded in history, and some current evidence of displacement from low-skill jobs, but I've always detected an underlying, internalized sense of inferiority- a mistaken, unspoken assumption that we can't compete. To make sure the competition is indeed fair, a more appropriate target are employers, who some studies show favor immigrants- Black or Hispanic- over Blacks born in America. Under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, that practice could constitute unlawful discrimination based on national origin.
At the top end of the education spectrum, American-born Blacks have expressed concern that Black immigrants and their children have been crowding other Blacks out of top colleges, where the newcomers are overrepresented. A decade-old survey of college freshmen found that 27 percent of Black students at 28 elite schools and 41 percent at a sample of Ivy League schools fit those categories.
Researchers led by Douglas Massey of Princeton, however, concluded the higher educational level of immigrant parents, not favoritism, is at work. Of Black irnmigrants born in Africa, 38 percent have college degrees, and 20 percent born in the Caribbean or Latin America do. That compares with 17 percent of Blacks overall in America.
An unanswered question is whether the number of native Black students at elite colleges has been going down as the number of immigrant Blacks has been rising. It is possible that is not the case. The total of Black undergraduates at Harvard University, for example, has expanded considerably since they started being admitted in numbers in the 1960s and 1970s. More research is needed to reach broader conclusions.
There is no doubting, though, the anti-Black attitudes of some immigrants of the same hue.
Yndia Lorick-Wilmot, a sociologist with Caribbean roots, blames the global force of White racism, communicated through the omnipresent America media, for infecting the immigrants. Her 2010 book, Creating Black Caribbean Ethnic Identity, reports her doctoral research at Northeastern University on community organizations in central Brooklyn.
"Immigrants are hearing messages, even before they migrate, that certain groups are treated in a particular way," Lorick-Wilmot says. "Then, I think as a natural kind of defense mechanism people tend to resist what's negative and those kinds of labels."
Hubert Devonish, a linguistics professor at the University of the West Indies in Jamaica, says how Black immigrants from the Caribbean identify themselves can stem from different motivations.
"Caribbean people not wishing to identify as African Americans, but rather with their country, is very understandable, from a negative as well as positive point of view," Devonish says. "From the negative, African Americans are highly stigmatized in the U.S., and identification with 'other' would relieve Caribbean people of African descent of the burden of a forced identification with a highly stigmatized group. The positive element, however, which applies to people from independent Caribbean countries, is an understandable desire to identify with the country of origin."
Lorick-Wilmot says the country of birth reflects not only national origin, but also the different experiences and sensibilities that shape the way of life on each island. Rather than a pan-Caribbean ethnicity, as suggested by her book's title, she sees residents of each of the region's countries as representing different ethnic groups.
I have come to accept the affirmative identification with nation of birth, from getting to know a coworker who wants to be considered Haitian or Black, but not African American. When Alix Cantave first told me that, I felt a sense of rejection, despite his diplomatic manner in saying so. Then I reflected on how he maintains positive, respectful relations with me and other native-born coworkers at the Trotter Institute for the Study of Black History and Culture at the University of Massachusetts Boston. He not only identifies himself as Haitian, he devotes a lot of energy to helping his native country, which he left as a teenager to further his education in the United States. He is committed to his homeland. I respect that.
From research that Cantave completed in 2008, 1 grasped the negative identification that some Black immigrants adopt, an outlook I give no quarter. He interviewed Haitian and native-Black residents of Mattapan, a neighborhood along the southern rim of Boston and the city's Blackest zip code. He found Haitian immigrants keep mostly to themselves. About the only places where they interact much with native-born neighbors were two churches, one Catholic and one a megachurch.
"There are no conflicts between Haitians and African Americans because there are no interactions," one interviewee said. Cantave found that the social isolation prevents joint action to address common problems in the neighborhood. Among them are crime, inadequate public transportation, a shopping district in need of a makeover, home foreclosures and the lowest home prices in the city.
What's the reason for Haitian disassociation from their native-born neighbors? Haitian youth, Cantave concluded, were more likely to become identified with their African American peers. Haitian adults associated this trend with their children committing crime, engaging in violence and performing poorly in school. Sound familiar? Throw in being lazy, arid there's the classic racist libel of Black Americans as criminal, violent, lacking a culture of academic achievement. Native-born residents of Mattapan, in describing their Haitian neighbors, said they "think they're better than African Americans."
Devonish notes a long history of Caribbean immigrants distancing themselves from American-born Blacks, who generally have not taken that well. He has read accounts from the era of segregated railroad travel about West Indians pulling out their British passports- their homelands were still colonies- and saying that the Black- White separation did not apply to them. Black porters undoubtedly learned of these exchanges and possibly coined the insult that emerged for Caribbean travelers in segregated America: "King George's niggers," a reference to the British monarch of the time, George VI.
Another insult crops up in Harlem Renaissance literature: "monkey chasers." I've heard a third in Boston"coconuts." In the 1993 movie, Sugar Hill, starring Wesley Snipes as a drug dealer, Nigerian competitors refer to native-born Blacks as "cotton pickers."
TRADING INSULTS WONT MOVE US toward mediating the conflicts between Africandescended people living in the same country, no matter where they were born. Understanding that differences aren't as big as both groups assume will.
When he leads discussions about his documentary, Aidoo says he begins by asking mixed groups of immigrant and U.S.-born Blacks what they perceive as the cultural differences between the two groups. Among the differences they mention are language, food and culture. At the end of discussions, they see those as similarities.
Language is one of the big definers of an ethnic group. Listening to immigrants conversing in Haitian Creole, American-born Blacks won't have a clue about what's being said, unless they have some understanding of French. They would have the same experience overhearing conversations in Cape Verdean Criólo, which draws its vocabulary from Portuguese.
My wife, Lucilda, is a Jamaican immigrant. When I first visited Jamaica in the 1980s, I could understand little of the English-based patois spoken there. I used to joke there was a certain advantage in understanding only half of what your in-laws say. Nigerians speaking Yoruba or Igbo, or Ghanaians talking in Fante, would be even more incomprehensible to Blacks raised in America.
So language is a big "ethnic" difference. But is it really? The original definition of "ebonies," a term Black scholars coined in St. Louis in 1973, was not limited to the language spoken by American-born Black people. The definition was international: "the communicative competence of the West African, Caribbean, and United States slave descendant of African origin. It includes the various idioms, patois, argots, ideolects, and social dialects of Black people."
How can that be, when the languages of West Africa and the Caribbean sound so different from what is technically known as "African American Vernacular English"? That's because that vernacular and the tongues that common people speak in the Caribbean, despite the differences in vocabulary drawn from European languages, share a common structure derived from West African languages.
"All creoles are Afro-European languages," says Devonish, the linguist at the University of the West Indies.
Some links between tongues spoken in the United States, the Caribbean and West Africa are direct. The most Africanized speech in America is Gullah, or Geechee, of the Sea Islands off South Carolina and Georgia. When Lucilda and I saw the 1991 movie Daughters of the Dust, which is set in that region, she remarked that Gullah sounded like Jamaican patois to her. I had no idea what she was talking about. It turns out her ears were more finely attuned than mine.
Some linguists say Gullah is derived from the languages of slaves from Sierra Leone brought to cultivate rice in coastal South Carolina, but Devonish says it is "actually an offshoot of Barbados Creole," or "Bajan," its popular name.
"South Carolina was colonized directly from Barbados, with planters travelling there with their slaves. The first few governors of South Carolina were actually Barbadian immigrant planters. Eventually, Georgia was colonized from South Carolina, maintaining an indirect Caribbean link," Devonish says.
The Creole spoken in New Orleans has Caribbean roots too. "We see a similar close link between the French slave plantations and French Creole culture of the Caribbean and of Louisiana," Devonish says. "Linguistically, Haitian Creole and Louisiana Creole are quite similar, clearly a product of the same earlier Plantation French Creole. In addition, in the late 18th century, there was a huge migration of planters and slaves from Haiti and the French-occupied Lesser Antilles to Louisiana, producing further cultural and linguistic convergence."
So what about food? Many dishes served in African or Caribbean restaurants don't look or taste much like soul food. My Jamaican in-laws relish fruits and root vegetables I'd never seen or heard of before visiting the subtropical country. But there are more similarities to the cuisine than immediately meets the palate.
West Africans, Caribbeans and American-born Blacks, for one, all eat greens, though they use different plants and prepare them in various ways. In Jamaica, "callaloo" is seasoned with salted codfish, while Americans traditionally made collards with salt pork. The difference in seasoning is based on what cheap protein was provided slaves in the countries.
Okra and yams are indigenous to Africa, and draw their names from languages there. Peanuts or groundnuts are also African. "We eat a lot of okra in Ghana. It's as well a part of the Caribbean diet and the African American diet," notes Aidoo, whose wife is from the Caribbean island of Montserrat.
Earlier this year, I went to a food festival sponsored by the Barbados Cultural Committee of Boston. Alongside unfamiliar dishes like "cou cou," a corn meal paste with okra, one item was decidedly not Caribbean: fried chicken. In the suburbs of Kingston, Jamaica where my in-laws live, for some years a Kentucky Fried Chicken and a McDonalds operated side by side. Well, Jamaicans like fried chicken so much that the McDonalds has gone out of business. Now a Burger King is giving it a shot next door.
"Fried chicken is something that really runs through, whether it's Africa, the Caribbean or African Americans," Aidoo says.
Different musical styles abound in each of those places. Like jazz, they all generally combine African rhythms and European instruments. The globalization of culture has produced a lot of international fusion of Black music, a trend that is not new.
Rap evolved in the Bronx in the 1970s, its originators a mix of young Black men born in American or with roots in the Caribbean. Lucilda, my wife, has always insisted that Jamaican "toasting" was the precursor of rap, and some evidence points in that direction.
In the other cultural direction, Jamaican crooned the mellow ballads of the 1960s with a Caribbean inflection. Soca, from Trinidad, means "soul of calypso" -the influence of soul music again. Some Trinidadian masters of the steel drums play "pan jazz." James Brown and FeIa Kuti, the late Nigerian superstar, gave similar high-energy performances on stage.
"I think you will find, musically, the richest fusion in Africa, in terms of fusing Caribbean and African American music," Aidoo says. "The contemporary music in Ghana right now is called 'hip life/ It used to be called 'high life' until 15 or 20 years ago."
The similarities in language, food and music in all three places have common sources.
"We're all Afro-European in culture," Devonish says.
BUT WE-Black folks born in America, Africa and the Caribbean-don't seem to recognize that, or tend to focus on differences. We all need to know more about each other. Structured community dialogues, perhaps led by trained facilitators, could help in New York, Boston, D.C, Miami and other cities with large Black immigrant populations.
Native Blacks could be more welcoming on a personal level. Anyone who has travelled overseas knows how appreciated friendliness from locals is. Reaching out to newcomers, understanding their customs and sampling their cuisine can build bridges.
Traditional Black institutions need to get involved. The National Urban League was established a century ago as a settlement house, to help Black migrants from the rural South find work, housing and their way around northern cities. How about the Urban Leagues in some cities doing the same for Black immigrants, assisting them in getting settled in a new country? That initial outreach would go a long way to improving relations.
The NAACP, NAACP-Legal Defense and Educational Fund and other organizations provide legal aid on civil rights matters. What about immigrant rights? True, immigration policy has been a source of conflict, with some displacement of native-born Blacks from low-skill jobs. My own view is those dead-end jobs as restaurant workers, janitors, landscapers and the like aren't worth the fight. Better to train those American-born workers for skilled jobs, such as medical technicians in the expanding health care industry-perhaps another role for the Urban League?
Black cultural institutions should broaden their programs to encompass other parts of the world, as some already have. More can be done. Carter G. Woodson, the founder of what has become Black History Month, always intended for its focus to be international, extending all the way to Africa. The annual celebration of Black achievement, though, has too often devolved into retelling the history of Black folks in America only.
Some immigrants sense, as Aidoo notes, that they don't have a place in the narrative of that history, which is not true, and I'm not referring just to the African captives brought here against their will. The narrative includes many prominent leaders of Caribbean descent: Malcolm X, Louis Farrakhan and Shirley Chisholm to name a few. Do African immigrants know about the post-independence leaders of their countries who were educated at historically Black colleges?
Black immigrants need to make some changes too. Any who subscribe to racist attitudes toward the native-born need to abandon them, fast. History can be a guide. How many know that the federal * immigration law of 1965, which enabled so many to enter the country, was shaped, indirectly, by the civil rights movement and its resonant demand for racial fairness? Without that legislation, the immigration quota for Caribbean nations emerging from colonialism would be stuck at what it was in 1965 for newly independent Jamaica and Trinidad- 100 people a year. The annual limit for the entire continent of Africa would have stayed at 1,400, less than 1 percent of Europe's quota.
Many Caribbean immigrants, Lorick-Wilmot observes, don't know much about the civil rights movement. The 1965 immigration law is one reason they should learn about it. There is another. Black immigrants, Aidoo points out, hold a different perspective of America than native-born Blacks out to transform the society by breaking down racial barriers.
Of the immigrants, he says: "They don't see the walls, they see the windows. It's a different way of seeing America, as having walls or windows." He adds that they "need to learn how those windows got broken" so they could climb through. That would be the civil rights movement. They'll also learn how to recognize the walls, which they will encounter sooner or later.
I think newcomers who want to hang on to their nationality as a source of pride is fine if Black ethnicity in that sense comes along with embracing Blackness as their race. Asserting "nationality" but not "Black" amounts to a bogus plea for exceptionalism based on the false assumption about all native-born Blacks being alike. That's a White racist way of thinking, if it can be called that.
African Americans are too diverse to be an ethnic group and will become more so as the U.S.-born children of immigrants are incorporated into this society. The social boundaries could fade away, just as they have in centuries past. I'd prefer both native- and foreign-born Black folks in America to reach out to each other so that- whether "ethnic" identities persist or not- we come to an understanding of our common culture, history and country.
Despite differences, native-and foreign-born Blacks need to reach mutual understanding.
The Back-to-Africa movement led by Jamaican-born Marcus Garvey attracted support from Caribbean immigrants but disdain from some native Blacks who sneered at the colorful uniforms and theatrical touches of his grand parades in Harlem.
At the top end of the education spectrum, American-born Blacks have expressed concern that Black immigrants and their children have been crowding other Blacks out of top colleges, where the newcomers are overrepresented.
Black immigrants need to make some changes too. Any who subscribe to racist attitudes toward the native-born need to abandon them, fast.
Kenneth J. Cooper, a Pulitzer Prize winner, is a freelance journalist based in Boston.…