Alo Alo Nena Readers,
First of all, Happy New Year Y’all!!! Second of all, Im sure you are tripping, you are probably thinking to yourself “where have you all been!!”- well people out here trying to practice being adults and stuff thats where! But we are back. Follow us also on tumblr @ nenaworld.tumblr.com
So, I am Black. I am the product of two recent immigrants from Africa to the United States. I belong to a strong community of those who have the same identity here in Texas. My experience along with others that follow in the same identity have been recently ignored by the media, immigration reformists, and proclaimed Black civil rights leaders. In my opinion, to ignore Black immigration reform is to trivialize the transatlantic Slave trade, for the complex systems that is created facilitated forced migration until the end of the slavery, and forced migration to due economic opportunities after slavery from the Caribbean, Latin America, and Africa.
President Obama stated two weeks ago in his proposal for comprehensible immigration reform that spewed of outdated American Exceptionalism political rhetoric that “comprehensive immigration reform looks like: smarter enforcement; a pathway to earned citizenship”- let’s be real though, what exactly does it take to gain citizenship in the US? For those racialized as Black in the United States, the sentiments of struggling with a defacto second-class citizenship in conjunction with a facade of a proposed citizenship along with immigration reform has brought about interesting ideas surrounding the lack of attention.
NPR and The Philadelphia Tribune both brought popular perspectives from the African Diaspora regarding immigration reform. The interview with Wayetu Moore on NPR left the same foul taste in my mouth as the interview with Gary Pierre from the Haitian Times quoted in the Philadelphia times. Both individuals of the diaspora were quick to come up with the lack of a Black movement around Immigration Reform based in their identity as the ‘other’ black. Yes, Blackness in the United States just as another nations around the word, is not a monolith. However, one must ask themselves how much privilege they have found themselves in to actually ignore or feel like they can survive outside the movement.
Usually, when people reference African Immigration stats, they love to mention how African Immigrants have the highest rates of educational attainment, wealth advantages etc- I’ve seen rates in the past as large as 50 percent. My question is, what about the other 50 percent. What about communities that migrated here not due to student or work visa, but as refugees akin to many other immigrants from other nations. Following suit, this question brings me to one instance democrats have pushed alongside immigration reform: the notion that one is worthy of citizenship if they can prove themselves through the labor force. President Obama preached again and again that those trained in the sciences deserve to be here basically to only make our labor force competitive with the global scale. So for President Obama, the African Diaspora, and all those folks that think immigrants are only as good as their labor- let me remind you this… For every Bobby Jindal, there is a Trinidad James (the ultimate example of “immigrant success” toward achieving white supremacy versus the ultimate rebel). This country can try, but will not succeed in making immigrants feel like they are lesser humans, and their citizenship can be bargained via monetary value. Trinidad James, a Trinidadian Native, and I share a common experience- we both had moms tell us to “count our blessings”. One of those, is of course being able to live in the US. However, I don’t think it was ever meant to just relinquish in the privileges being a US Citizen and oppress others, but instead to use that agency to deconstruct systems here and at our other home. I mean why else would we send so much remittances?