The Changing African American Population

African immigrants now form 2% of the black population of the United States. Caribbean immigrants have been part of the of the African American population since the 1900’s. I am of Caribbean descent and an American citizen, we now one percent of the total American population. My double identity has allowed me to see the incredible diversity in the African American population. The black population of America stands at a pre-census 13%.  I am concerned about the the rift between these populations and the shrinkage in the native African American population. Many, especially first generation immigrants love the economic and academic opportunities that America offers, but abhor the excessive materialism and individualism endemic to our culture. Race relations are also an anathema, so immigrants tend to socialize among themselves. The children of these tight knight communities develop duel identities becoming Caribbean and American, both.

Conservative author and radio host, Larry Elder has made his living by pointing out the so called “cultural disfunction” of African Americans. He sites that black immigrants fare better in this country as compared to African Americans. This expert fails to recognize that a African and Caribbean immigrants are different from native born African Americans in significant ways. According to Elder people who are enslaved and then subjected to Jim Crow are the same as a multi-ethnic people who faced slavery, indentured servitude and colonialism. His assumptions are simplistic and arrogant.

Some of the problems faced by native born African Americans can lead to slowed population growth. The leading cause of death in young African American women is AIDS and homicide is an empidemic amoung young black men. There is no sign of these trends abating. We also live in a country that enthusiatically pays to build more jails but has still not funded schools equally as directed in Brown v Board of Education (1954). Although African and West Indian immigrants eschew race related problems that does not mean that American race privilidge does not touch their lives. Shawn Bell and Amadou Diallo were taken down in in a hail of bullets after committing no crime.  Abner Loumia was sodomized by so badly one of New York’s that his interstines were permanently damaged. So in one area of racial privilidge we are all African American. It remains to be seen if we will become a blended culture in which all ethnicities prosper and grow together or will the immigrant population continue to grow while the native population decreases.

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