A letter to Black immigrants and Black immigrant children.

June 4, 2020

I write this in love as a result of a conversation had with loved ones and in response to a video that deserves no more attention than it has already garnered. With an even deeper love, I write because it is imperative to point out the complexities of the immigrant and first-generation Black role, experience, and even more so, the deep introspective work that we must hold ourselves accountable to.

 

This is a conversation starter, to be continued within the self and within the walls of your home and with the people who birthed and raised us. I am talking to you: my sister, my brother, my mother, my father, my friend, my aunty, my uncle, my cousin, and my cousin-cousin.

 

And now, I rip off the band-aid. This will hurt. Read anyway.

"From their fight, we got to win. From their labor, we got to eat the fruit. And even more, Black Americans were dragged to this country by force, Black immigrants had the option to come here by choice. Don't forget that."

 

Comparing the Black American struggle and rise to the Black immigrant struggle and rise is not something we have the right to do. It's ignorant.
 

I've had this conversation a few times with Caribbeans, Africans, and LatinX people alike. Please understand and educate your grandparents, parents, and yourself that the reason we can be here, on this already stolen land in the first place, is because Black stolen Africans, today's beautiful Black Americans, made it happen. From their fight, we got to win. From their labor, we got to eat the fruit. And even more, Black Americans were dragged to this country by force, Black immigrants had the option to come here by choice. Don't forget that. The contrast and legacy of how we ended up in this country has everything to do with how we approach and view America and its "opportunities". Not least, but lastly (because... this is a conversation starter for you to finish), imagine a group of people having to build a 100-ft. tower, brick, by brick while simultaneously building a ladder for easy maneuvering for others. And then, once they've finally finished, there's a grand race at the top to which everyone must run 10 laps. Now imagine, other people having the ability to climb the ladder and after 5 laps around asking those who built the tower why they haven't started the race yet. Even worse, imagine the people who were dropped to the top by helicopter asking.

"If it is possible to take only 24-hours for a kidnapped person to develop Stockholm Syndrome, an incredible form of brainwashing that creates from the captured an affinity, love, and emotional attachment to their captor, what do you think 400 plus years of slavery, jim crow laws, mass incarceration, white-washing and white-beautifying, police brutality, and police terrorizing would do to the Black American psyche?"

 

While we're here, let's touch on a bit of psychology and address Black American self-efficacy, energy, and effort (which a lot of immigrant families tend to be very perplexed by and extremely judgmental about). If it is possible to take only 24-hours for a kidnapped person to develop Stockholm Syndrome, an incredible form of brainwashing that creates from the captured an affinity, love, and emotional attachment to their captor, what do you think 400 plus years of slavery, jim crow (I intentionally put that in lower case and wish there was an anti-bold option to make the lettering thin, but that's all I could do) laws, mass incarceration, white-washing and white-beautifying, police brutality, and police terrorizing would do to the Black American psyche? The brain is so fragile, generational trauma is real.

 

We are able to understand how one traumatic experience of a human being results in the loss or grave deterioration of their mental well-being, yet we challenge a generation of people who have been genetically predisposed to trauma and stress and then societally outcast and literally hunted?

 

While we're still here, let me acknowledge and remind us again that Black Americans weren't supposed to even make it this far. They never thought Black people as a collective would make it this far and then outperform at that. Marvel at Black excellence and resilience, marvel at Black Love, Black doctors, Black educators, Black entrepreneurs... they are thriving in a way no other being has in this country and they did it with everything and everyone against them. Remember that before you allow yourself or someone else to criticize Black progress in America.

 

"Intracommunal Black homicides exist, we can never deny that. But because that happens, should we now say it's okay for everyone or anyone else to come in and do the same? That's like saying, well, your cousin killed your brother so the family across the street killing your sister isn't something you have the grounds to address."

 

The argument about black people killing each other rendering the Black Lives Matter movement irrelevant is nonsensical.

 

I have always said that if you starve a people long enough, they will be forced to eat each other. What we see happening in some Black communities is a direct result of systemic oppression and more tied to economic inequities than it is to race. Do your research, because... remember, this is a conversation starter for you to do the work and finish.

 

Have you heard of the term white-on-white crime, Asian-on-Asian crime, or LatinX-on-LatinX crime? Not seriously you haven't. Think about that. Did you know that most homicides are committed by people who know one another? Most murders, for white people and Black people and everything in between, are committed by people of the same race. These are statistical facts. The higher percentage of violence in Black, underprivileged communities correlates to economic status and deprivation of basic needs stemming from myriad forms of modern day oppression.

 

Intracommunal Black homicides exist, we can never deny that. But because that happens, should we now say it's okay for everyone or anyone else to come in and do the same? That's like saying, well, your cousin killed your brother so the family across the street killing your sister isn't something you have the grounds to address. And naturally, most sane people would address the outsider first which does not mean interpersonal or communal dysfunction is dismissed.

 

Saying that Black Americans are being "hypocritical" by partaking in Black Lives Matter protests as a response to white officers murdering Black women and men is dangerous and ludicrous.

 

Stop. That's it. Stop.

 

"We have long traversed the delicate plains of being Black, but... or Black, and... Today, we are protesting as both victims of Black injustices and as Black allies. It's complex, but this has always been our reality. The rules for us are slightly different in this fight. Recognize that and honor it."

Do something. Change. Have the conversation. Call it out. Do your research. Acknowledge.

 

As immigrants and children of immigrants, we have always had to be both. And sometimes, because of that, we might've felt like we were neither. We have long embodied two distinct identities and right now, it's no different. We have long traversed the delicate plains of being Black, but... or Black, and... Today, we are protesting as both victims of Black injustices and as Black allies. It's complex, but this has always been our reality. The rules for us are slightly different in this fight. Recognize that and honor it.

 

Where and when we see our fellow Black immigrants speaking in ignorance or talking from a place of privilege, yes, privilege... speak up. Say something. The majority of us know better, and in knowing better, it's not enough to just do better, but we must teach better. Black Americans are fighting for their lives, we are fighting for our lives, the one thing we shouldn't be doing, is fighting against them.

"Reflect, deeply. And where you don't understand, reflect deeper."

This is not a conversation to be had here at this time. Take this to your family chats, your family dinners, your friend chats, your cultural community, yourself, your talk with God. Reflect, deeply. And where you don't understand, reflect deeper. And then, get back on the frontlines and hold tight to why we are here in the first place. I urge you to do the healing from within as we simultaneously tend to outward wounds together.

 

At some point in the future, this will likely be a podcast and larger conversation (that's what I do) and if you want to be in on that, subscribe here to know when it's out. Most importantly though, be sure to get active in the fight for justice. If you don't know where to start, begin here.

 

 

 

 

 

Aminat Salihu

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in Him do i put my trust arad 13;30

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