PEW REPORT: AMERICAN BLACKS CANNOT BE CONSIDERED ONE RACE

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Pew Research Center released a new report that suggests that blacks cannot be considered a single race. The reason for this, according to participants, has to do with divergent values between upper and middle class Blacks and lower class Blacks.

Reading over the report and listening to the commentary it generated on NPR this morning suggests to me that the concept of 'Blackness' is in flux. I always believed that one's blackness primarily had to do with the color of their skin. In fact I would argue that historically, that was the case. If one is to believe the new Pew report, one's Blackness now has more to do with your class and values.

Nevertheless, I was taken aback by a glaring ommission. It appears that the study did not focus on an important source of diversity within the 'Black' group - the growing number of foreign born Blacks in America and their heirs. In this day and age, the average 'Black' American can be of Caribbean or African origin. My neighborhood can definitely attest to this phenomenon. I live within shouting distance of 7 African families (6 of them are Nigerian).

I completely understand that the Pew report was meant to focus on African-Americans. Consequently, I am curious as to why a discussion on the diversity of Blacks did not touch on foreign-born Blacks. But considering the fact that a major contender for the Democratic Presidential ticket is part Kenyan, and the number of Black immigrants from the Caribbean and Africa continues to increase, I believe that it is high time that the existence of foreign-born Blacks be recognized and their issues addressed.

13 Curiosities. Add Yours.:

Jinta said...

Hear! Hear!

Dee said...

It’s really interesting that you bring this up. I recall doing a study in school and a number of the foreign born blacks preferred to identify their ethic group as “other black” rather than “African American”. There really is a big difference and yes, it is a very big omission! The diversity is truly amazing; we’ll have to go back to the discussions of “Black American”, “American and Black”, “African and American” and “African American”. Phew!
It makes one think that foreign-born blacks are really not part of the “Black population” or have a different degree of blackness.
Another thing that comes to mind is the relationship between “African-Americans” and foreign-born blacks…hmmm, truly a different class of blackness, ethnicity, class and values.
It’s a no brainer that they are omitting huge number of potential voters. I guess a good place to start is admitting this population group exists.

Beauty said...

I have not seen the report but having worked with colourful statistics and experienced Hans Roslings presentations http://www.gapminder.org/video/talks/ted-2007---the-seemingly-impossible-is-possible.html
it is quite easy to understand the implications of 1 size does not fit all. Black is a huge word and world. We are yet to completly understand it but tapping into its benefits is the economic miracle of the future. Its time is not now.

Beauty said...

Hans Rosling @ Ted link
http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/140

Omodudu said...

I am totally not buying that argument. Where does the fragmentation stop.

SOLOMONSYDELLE said...

@ Jinta: Glad somebody agrees with my point. lol!

@ Dee: Yes, this issue has some serious legs, doesn't it? I once started research into the term "African-American" and its origins because I was wondering what my children (American by the nation of their birth) will call themselves once older! I leave that issue for another day.

As for relations between Africans and African Americans -- I think it depends on the class of Americans. In more urban communities, I have come to learn that Africans and some African Americans just don't get along as one would hope. Luckily for me, my experiences have been much different.

Let me stop. I could go on for days on this topic...

@ Beauty: Thanks for the Hans Rosling link. It was very good and quite educational. I wonder about your comment, "Its time is not now.". Why do you believe that it is not time to "tap" into Blackness? Is that not already underway or am I misreading your point. Do clarify, if you can. Thanks!

@ Omodudu: Fragmentation is not about to end in America at any point in time, my brother... But I agree with you though, at some point we need to stop seeing the world as 'we against them'. I do not intend to encourage more fragmentation. It is better to be inclusive than not.

guerreiranigeriana said...

interesting post...i agree that they have and continue to ignore/leave out foreign born 'blacks'...it is not a matter of fragmentation as it is more a matter of advocacy and serving needs...for instance, the red cross in atl had three different types of videos about hiv/aids...one for general public (see white people), one for latinos and one for blacks...they wanted us to develop one for africans...upon seeing the black video, there is no way that video was relevant for foreign blacks, regardless of class...it just wasn't relevant...from the jargon to movements...naacp for damn sure doesn't advocate about immigration issues, which are of concern for many foreign blacks, yet they are to represent black americans right?...i keep meaning to right an article about how 'race' classifications may indeed be detrimental to addressing disparities or properly serving various populations in the us...not just blacks...after all, race is a social construct...*running to go read the report*...

SOLOMONSYDELLE said...

@ Guerreiranigeriana: How interesting? That story about the hiv/ AIDS tape...

Yes, the world is very complicated even though technology has managed to make it 'smaller'. As for immigration issues - that is a hot topic for us Africans in the U.S. I must confess that as of right now, I am glad that that issue isn't being discussed publicly and will refrain from calling attention to it at this time. But, I agree with you that the current race classifications are inefficient. They will not help us prepare for the future. Nowadays, kids of all ages play together and learn eachother's language or jargon/slang. Let me stop...I am beginning to ramble...

Thanks for sharing your insight. Feel free to drop some more knowledge on us...

guerreiranigeriana said...

right should be write...ooopsss...

Waffarian said...

At the end of the day it all comes down to identity which has become very ambigous at this day and age. I am afraid there will no classifications sufficient enough in the future to deal with it.

I remember a couple of years a go, in a class about immigration, I noticed that there was no box for people from the middle east, the people we call "arabs" now, but there were "boxes" for every other nationality you could think of (it was a class about immigration in the United States, to help we europeans learn from mistakes made). Anyway, the prof said they fell under "whites", this was right before sept 11. I am certain things must have changed by now....

NIGERIA POLITRICKS said...

@ Omodudu
You took the words out of my mouth. when does the segregation stops?

The Last King Of Scotland said...

hmmmmmmmmmmm

Anonymous said...

It is quite ironic that amidst increased social fragmentation, studies continue to prove that intra-group differences exceed inter-group differences. Therefore just because Africans have the same skin pigmentation as an African-American doesn’t make us any more similar to them than to a latino or white person. The word “Black” replaced the word Negro and was coined to describe the distinct group that we now call African Americans, therefore, it is perfectly understandable why Africans do not necessarily fit into discussions on blackness. Many Africans can relate more readily to a Latino than to an African American and just a glimpse at Howard University African and African-American relations is a clear attestation of this. As far as African kids who are born here are concerned, as someone stated earlier, race is a social construct so they will be who they “choose” to be and will act accordingly.

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