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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Black America

Posted by on Thu, Jan 19, 2012 at 1:55 PM

Two things: It's not that we are all immigrants in America, with the distinction only being between those who were forced here and those who came here of their own free will. Fleeing poverty or war or persecution is not leaving a country of your own free will. The bad situation, what ever it may be, is forcing you to depart. Mexicans do not come to the US because it's such a cool place; it's because they have to, are forced to, and risk lives and dignity to. The Irish of the 19th century were in much the same situation. The ancestors of many Americans were forced to come here, one way or another. So, it is a question of what forced you to this country.

Secondly, I hate it when immigrants, in reference to black Americans, go on about how their parents or grandparents were not lazy, how they came to this country and broke their backs to make ends meet. True, those noble people worked hard for very little pay, but a little pay is still infinitely more (financially and spiritually) than getting paid nothing for hard work. And slavery did not happen a very long, long, so long time ago. This isn't deep history. It happened fairly recently. Even I was born in a segregated hospital; born in the section for black Africans only. Before that, my great-grandmother saw the first white person on Christmas Pass. 40 years before that, black Americans were picking cotton for nothing.


Comments (24) RSS

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Sargon Bighorn 1
Is this part of the "Race debate" that Americans need to have? If so, what is the desired response.
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on January 19, 2012 at 2:03 PM · Report this
slavery ended 40 years before your great-great grandmother.

yes. that is a long time ago.
Posted by Dootdeedoo on January 19, 2012 at 2:09 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 3
Heck, slavery is still common in parts of Africa and the Middle East, although they don't call it that anymore.
Posted by Will in Seattle on January 19, 2012 at 2:11 PM · Report this
@1 -Reparations, which by the way would be difficult: White people with one drop of AA blood would claim reparations. It would be very challenging distinguishing who the deserving descendents are.

Will@3 - Globalization?

Charles, I'm wondering if you wrote this piece in response to overhearing an immigrant mouth some racist crap about AA's, which I do read about from time to time.
Posted by neo-realist on January 19, 2012 at 2:26 PM · Report this
Fnarf 5
Black men were still being sold for cash by local governments to plantations, mines and factories in the deep south up until at least 1960. Read Douglas Blackmon's "Slavery By Another Name" if you don't believe me.
Posted by Fnarf on January 19, 2012 at 2:27 PM · Report this
JF 6
Did he just say Mexicans are forced to migrate to America?
Posted by JF on January 19, 2012 at 2:29 PM · Report this
Hernandez 7
@6 If your options are destitution and drug cartel violence or migrating north, do you really have a choice? Humans have a self-preservation instinct. Crossing illegally is incredibly risky and many die before they ever make it here. You think people would do that if it was just a casual choice?
Posted by Hernandez on January 19, 2012 at 2:38 PM · Report this
Ah, you were asleep the day your class went over human population migration patterns.
Posted by suddenlyorcas on January 19, 2012 at 2:40 PM · Report this
Please, in this constant story do not invisible-ize the Indigenous.
Posted by harriettubman on January 19, 2012 at 2:54 PM · Report this
@7, even if it isn't a casual choice, it's still frequently a choice. There are lots of immigrants from Mexico and Central America (and Europe and Asia and Africa) who simply choose to come here because they feel they can do better here.

Once again, Charles ignores the millions of examples which disprove his assertion.
Posted by LJM on January 19, 2012 at 2:57 PM · Report this
JensR 11
@10 and immigrants who fled the US to us here in Sweden in the 70's. They had the *choice* to stay but chose the option which ment they did not had to go to a war they did not believe or prison...
Choice is a tricky thing. Like when someone gets robbed at gun point they still have a choice. Give money or most probably die or being severely hurt.

Is the US suddenly running out of land btw? This sudden whining about immigration (which, coerced or not, built your country (and mine)) where the hell did it come from?

Posted by JensR on January 19, 2012 at 3:09 PM · Report this
Charles Mudede 12
i rest my case on @10. @9, you are correct. my bad.
Posted by Charles Mudede on January 19, 2012 at 3:09 PM · Report this
lark 13
You started an interesting conversation. Regarding your first paragraph, you have a point. However, I contend many (most?) immigrants come to America TODAY for its largesse (largely economic) and health care not primarily its freedoms. I don't have the data but I believe many aren't compelled to leave their home countries. Yes, health care is an important one.

Many Mexican women and others go through great pains (literally and figuratively) to give birth in the USA. Thus posing a conundrum for US immigration authorities (their children are citizens but their mothers aren't). They'll genuinely get better health care but it takes quite a toll on their families. Also, many die attempting to get to the US. So, the desperation must be really big OR the draw too enticing. Tough call.

Many immigrants "marry" just to get here and work. Many come here for educational opportunities and stay for professional ones.

Also, consider that even if one is "poverty-stricken" as an immigrant it is better to be "poverty-stricken" here than "there". So, reasons for leaving and staying can be quite complicated.

Finally, one thing that did confound me regarding immigration to America is that people of African origins did come here during a time of state sponsored segregation in the US. It's fascinating to read the history of Harlem (NYC). Many immigrants came to NY from the Caribbean during the 1920s or earlier.
Posted by lark on January 19, 2012 at 3:10 PM · Report this
Classism is a big part of this, too: a lot of people can't grasp the difference of situation poverty (like immigrants experience) and generational poverty.

My best friend is an educator with a classroom of African immigrants, many of whom are refugees, and black Americans from a high-poverty area. And in only a few years, the immigrant kids are outperforming black Americans. That it's easier for these immigrant kids, who arrive speaking no English - some of whom actually worked as slaves - to get ahead, speaks volumes about generational poverty in America, and what it does to people.

Since it's so impossible to talk about class in this country, beyond "keep pulling on those bootstraps!", lazy people turn to race. Slightly less lazy people (Hi, Grandma) say "I'm not racist, but why can't those black people just get their shit together?" Which, I think, is still racist; it ignores the de jure and de facto reasons that threw so many black Americans into the culture of poverty in the first place.
Posted by Subdued Excitement on January 19, 2012 at 3:23 PM · Report this
mulata 15
I read this and the first thing I thought was, "Dear white people, please don't turn this into a polemic on Charles, black Americans, slavery, or immigration." Some folks are getting it right.
Posted by mulata on January 19, 2012 at 3:28 PM · Report this
small aside : IN Loving v. Virgina only 45 years ago the Supreme Court ruled that a state couldn't make marriage between different races illegal. Mildred and Richard Loving were actually arrested in 1958 after their marriage!

Nice family pics and some background [not untypically published in a UK paper]:…
Posted by cracked on January 19, 2012 at 3:35 PM · Report this
Fnarf 17
Also, most arguments about immigration are devoid of facts. The bad economy in the US has just about shut down immigration from Mexico these days (and many of the ones who do are not Mexican but trans-migrating Central Americans. Mexico actually has a more serious illegal-immigration problem than we do right now, on their southern border, because Mexico itself is something of a land of opportunity for a lot of Salvadoreans and Nicaraguans. Their economy is probably healthier than ours right now.

It's entirely possible that the largest group of undocumented immigrants today isn't Hispanic at all, but Asian or European. The amount of illegal Irish immigration back in the 80s was astonishing; now they're more likely to come from southern, central or eastern Europe. And there are planeloads of Asians landing at LAX with all their worldly goods every half hour.

Border-fence extremists also fail to understand that the preponderance of illegal immigrants in the US don't cross illegally but legally, and then overstay their visas.

@4, I've always felt that reparations were paid, in blood. I have a great-great-great-grandfather who died at Chickamagua, after spending a year in the mud of Cairo, Illinois; and a great-great-grandfather who survived the war but with chronic diarrhea and pneumonia that destroyed his life. I have his pension file; it's fascinating and horrific reading.
Posted by Fnarf on January 19, 2012 at 3:54 PM · Report this
A few years back, the EMP had an exhibit on the history of Blues Music in America. I learned a great fact at that exhibit--the migration of African Americans from the south to the north is THE LARGEST RECORDED VOLUNTARY MIGRATION OF PEOPLE IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD. This certainly does not support that prejudiced assertion that these people are lazy.
Posted by Mary Clare Kersten on January 19, 2012 at 4:09 PM · Report this
"Two things: It's not that we are all immigrants in America, with the distinction only being between those who were forced here and those who came here of their own free will."

One thing: I'm not an immigrant in America. I was born in Spokane, WA, in 1973. My great-grandfather came here in 1905. Before that he lived in Italy. And I suspect that his ancestors immigrated from outside of Italy at some point. Does that make him an immigrant in Italy, and then an immigrant in American again? Or do we go further back with his ancestors' ancestors from northern Pangea to earn more VictimhoodPoints(tm)?

How about we all just take a deep breath and go sledding?
Posted by Brad in Seattle on January 19, 2012 at 4:48 PM · Report this
Jeez, what brought this on? Maybe it's the snow (too much white all at once).
Posted by Anastasia Beaverhausen on January 19, 2012 at 5:52 PM · Report this
And of course there were no other people on this continent that was just sitting around waiting to be filled up.
Posted by NDN on January 19, 2012 at 6:33 PM · Report this
@ 3.. if ya google slavery, Africa and 2012 together, I think you will find that it is still called slavery. Just as long ago, Muslim black Africans round up other black Africans and sell them to non African for cash money. Try researching Janjaweed...;-G
Posted by pupuguru on January 19, 2012 at 6:36 PM · Report this
Posted by pupuguru on January 19, 2012 at 6:38 PM · Report this
Since some say the slave trade today is larger than it was 200 years ago, perhaps the efforts should be made to identify and censure the buyers of today's slaves instead of reviling what happened 200 years ago...
Posted by pupuguru on January 19, 2012 at 6:42 PM · Report this

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