Magazine article The Crisis

Family Reunion

Magazine article The Crisis

Family Reunion

Article excerpt

Recently, I was out with a friend and she asked me what the latest issue of The Crisis was about. I told her we were going to be discussing immigrant issues and relations between Black immigrants and African Americans.

What do you mean by African American and Black immigrant relations, she asked? I explained that sometimes newcomers from Africa and the Caribbean come to the United States with preconceived, often negative, perceptions of African Americans. And conversely, Black Americans, perhaps unfamiliar with the cultures and countries immigrants hail from, may make assumptions about them. As a result, sometimes there is a communication disconnect.

In response, she asked me if I remembered the comments one of our former co-workers made at a meeting more than a decade ago. It was at another magazine. Our co-worker was a talented young graphic designer from Trinidad. She had been in the United States for several years and on the staff, as I recall, for several months. In the midst of an editorial meeting, the floor was opened for story ideas.

"Why don't we do something about African American women who try to have all these babies so they can stay on welfare?" she suggested.

There were a score of other staffers in the room, all but one other were Black American. Needless to say, our editor-in-chief dressed her down and schooled her about buying into racist stereotypes, particularly those about her own people.

Our boss's response, while certainly warranted, actually indicated another cultural disconnect between African Americans and Black immigrants. Many newcomers to the United States don't necessarily consider Black Americans "their own people" because they may not view themselves as Black, rather identifying themselves as Haitian, Jamaican or Nigerian, for example.

Nunu Kidane, an Eritrean immigrant who is featured on our cover and in the story "Black Like Whom," on page 24 reports as much. …

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