Black Americans and Immigration

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Bertha Lewis, president of The Black Institute, discusses tomorrow night's town hall forum to launch "The G Project" which seeks to engage black Americans on the issue of immigration reform. NYC's new First Lady Chirlane McCray is expected to participate at the forum and share her own family's immigration story.

What about you? The Black Institute estimates there are 60 million black Americans who themselves or whose parents or grandparents immigrated to the U.S.  Find out more and take the survey for "The G Project."

→EVENT: All Races All Faces Immigration Forum, January 22, 6:00 p.m., Christian Cultural Center, 12020 Flatlands Ave., Brooklyn (pdf)



Bertha Lewis

Comments [31]

Miscellaneous from NYC

@ Carol Davis from Illinois: Not all whites grew up with a sense of entitlement. I bet you aren't aware that for many years, (white) Jews were restricted from participating in many areas: hotels, clubs, jobs. And many white residents of Appalachia have no sense of entitlement. Get yourself some knowledge before you mouth off.

Jan. 21 2014 12:04 PM
Carol Davis from Illinois

Minority and majority...
majority sensibilities versus minority persona

Blacks in America are minority
Whites are the majority who rule and grow up with entitlement, all classes.

Blacks in Caribbean and African countries are majority
Blacks are majority, who rule and grow up with entitlement, all classes.
whites are minority

Most Blacks in the Americas, North, Central and South America, were from slaves of African ancestry...more slaves were sold in Central and South America then USA.

Today's USA Black immigrants from Caribbean and Latin America come to USA to for opportunities they could not forge in their own countries.

Blacks across the African Diaspora are as different as European, French are different the Spanish.

Again, race is discussed without clear historical perspective and the rule of majority versus minority...and...entitlement vs none

Jan. 21 2014 11:58 AM
Michael D. D. White from Brooklyn Heights

No, no matter what Bertha Lewis says or how interviewer Lehrer summarizes it, the affordable housing units are NOT going up at the Atlantic Yards site.

Yes, we need to change the way we do things, but not in the way Ms. Lewis suggests.

More affordable units (and units that were more affordable) were torn down within the Atlantic Yards demolition footprint than have been replaced and units at that level of affordability are not being replaced.

What are the problems with the way things happened? Ms. Lewis used the term “mega-developer”- One problem is that we treated Forest City Ratner as a “mega-developer” who the government could rightly entitle to own a mega-monpoloy thus ensuring we had NO negotiating power with the developer going forward. Unfortunately, Ms. Lewis played into the hands of power and privilege by endorsing this arrangement.

Next, Ms. Lewis and her ACORN group did not negotiate for the provision of any units that would be truly additional affordable units, units other than the tax code, existing subsidy programs and the market would provide. She specifically endorsed excluding an income band just above what the tax code would require from any benefit.

Further, as the Fifth Avenue Committee and Pratt Institute testified at the supplemental environmental impact statement hearings concerning why the mega-project should be broken up, the mega-project will likely (and permissibly) be built over 25, perhaps 40 years (according to ESDC’s Lago) and that means with shifting median income and affordability levels even the affordability once spoken of is largely a mirage.

Rather than Ms. Lewis’s cavalierly grand suggestion that we invert our procedures and requirements to require a greater percentage of affordable units in the future, what we should do is require that, in the future, we at least replace the affordable we induce to be destroyed with schemes like Atlantic Yards and that we not let affordable housing be destroyed until equivalent or better units are in place.

BTW: Notwithstanding that de Blasio is now on the scene, the proper answer is NOT to construct units at the Ratner/Prokorov/Chinese Investors site by diverting much needed subsidy from other projects into a Ratner bailout.

See: Wednesday, February 27, 2013, Noticing New York's Testimony at Tonight's Hearing on the Draft Scope of Work for the DSEIS for Forest City Ratner Atlantic Yards Mega-monpoly

Jan. 21 2014 11:47 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Bonn, form Italy to Israel to India: Darker-skinned citizens have always been more discriminated against. The English, Spanish and dare I say, French Caribbean have grappled with this issue for decades.

Jan. 21 2014 11:28 AM

It is sad that she is perpetuating the 'Black American' stigma. How about we just realize people are people regardless of our ancestry. Celebrate your roots but don't use it as a crutch.

Jan. 21 2014 11:21 AM

ha ha ha @foodaggro, nice response!

Jan. 21 2014 11:19 AM
foodaggro from Brooklyn

The Truth from Becky -

I'm just saying, her "G" reference is a bit cheeky. And she needs to get over herself.

- The Neanderthal

Jan. 21 2014 11:16 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

The fact that most African-Americans have next to zero knowledge of their specific origins in Africa, is why most African-Americans have little interest in foreign affairs because they have no specific homeland to relate to outside of the Americas, which are really places of exile, like Poland was for many Jews. But thanks to genomic science, people today can actually trace their varied roots to a few places where their ancient ancestors had their original homelands. Of course, the entire human race is of African origins if you go back 50-100,000 years or so, but I'm referring to their homelands of 2000-3000 years ago or so, when most civilizations began.

Jan. 21 2014 11:16 AM
MikeInBrklyn from Clinton Hill

Pastor Bernard is "black" belies the absurdity in the label. Bernard's skin tone is much close to Brian's that Ms. Lewis', yet he is characterized as black. Boy the slavemaster did a great job in perpetuating the 1 drop rule. At what point will this ridiculous categorization of people go away. Given Bernard's skin tone, clearly there is much Caucasian (and likely other influences) in his make-up. Maybe if we move away from the hard labels and introduce some more nuance in the discussion, some forward progress regarding race will start to happen.

Jan. 21 2014 11:14 AM

as a first generation american of italian descent, i find this segment boring. america IS a country of immigrants. what is the drama here? i dont get this segment.

Jan. 21 2014 11:14 AM
Tropic thunder from NYC

@ Becky

What do you mean, "You people"?

Jan. 21 2014 11:14 AM
The Truth from Becky

G is for the GENERATION PROJECT - you neanderthal! not funny.

Jan. 21 2014 11:13 AM
Bonn from East Village

We are all in it together? Do you pass the "paper bag" test? I know many black people who were/are greatly discriminated against because they were/are "too dark" to be accepted by the lighter variety. And the whole idea that Obama wasn't "black enough" says it all. And I have had African students who reported to me how badly they were treated by African-Americans. This woman is full of herself.

Jan. 21 2014 11:12 AM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

I don't understand why we need to distinguish among various ethnic immigrants. Immigrants are immigrants.

Each sovereign nation should have its own immigration policy, as does the US. Most sovereign nations insist that immigrants be well-educated persons who will contribute to their new nation (in more ways than mere money) rather than becoming a drain on the nation's resources. No country wants to take in all the problems that a potential immigrant's country may want to export; and each sovereign nation has a right to be choosy.

Jan. 21 2014 11:09 AM
Pat from Pittsburgh

People from the Caribbean are still called West Indians- we live in the West Indies. I find that she is focusing too much on the ("G") terminology. I think the focus should be more on how "traditional" Americans can be just as hostile as non-minorities on Immigration issues, by assuming that all immigrants are illegal.

Jan. 21 2014 11:09 AM

the term "black" makes no sense either as black is not a color but the absence of light.

Jan. 21 2014 11:08 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

I'm not sure native born, working class and working poor blacks, are that enthusiastic about immigration reform, as many may see immigration as a threat to semi and low-skilled jobs.

Jan. 21 2014 11:07 AM
foodaggro from Brooklyn

So I was partially correct - she uses "G" and "OG," both "gangsta" references. (eyes rolling)

Jan. 21 2014 11:07 AM

using hip hop terms lessons the seriousness of her argument.

Jan. 21 2014 11:07 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Black Africans came from MANY nations, just as White Europeans did, in fact more so. Africa is more diverse than Europe, but if you just go by skin color, it means you don't know anything about Africa.

Jan. 21 2014 11:07 AM
fuva from harlemworld

Yo, my beloved grandfather came from Barbados too. And my biological father is from the motherland. Makes me a 'G2' on one side and 'G1' on the other...Nevertheless current immigration probably has a net negative economic effect on 'native born', and we need to deal with this. And we can, without being divisive.

Jan. 21 2014 11:05 AM
antonio from baySide

Amen hjs11121!

Jan. 21 2014 11:05 AM
The Truth from Becky

Must you people ALWAYS show your IGNORANCE?

Jan. 21 2014 11:05 AM
The Truth from Becky

Must you people ALWAYS show your igornance?

Jan. 21 2014 11:04 AM

38,929,319 african americans.

dubious reporting in this segment

Jan. 21 2014 11:04 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

No, not all Africans come from the same "stock" anymore than all white people from Europe come from the "same stock." It's absurd. Africa is one of the most diverse continents on earth, only the different nations happened to have black skin, but that's no more relevant than English, Scots, Irish, Germans, French, Italians or Poles have white skin.
The ancestors of African-Americans were taken from MANY nations, just as the so-called "indians" are from many nations. That these nations may been small and didn't have borders on maps doesn't mean they weren't distinct nations.
The fact that African-Americans lost their distinct ethnic identities, and became mixed up do to slavery, does not change the fact that Africans are as varied in their national origins as are Europeans, if not more so.
So Africans do not come from the "same stock." They just come with black skin. If they all came with blue hair that would be the common calling card.

Jan. 21 2014 11:03 AM

we all came from Africa!!
Even the white folks.

Jan. 21 2014 11:01 AM
foodaggro from Brooklyn

"G" as in "gangsta?"

Jan. 21 2014 10:58 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

I didn't know there were that many Black Americans? Much less ones from immigrant backgrounds, doesn't make any sense.

Jan. 21 2014 10:32 AM

@jgarbuz - You found something we can agree about!! 60 million is a stretch. A big stretch.

Our immigration problem - which I will unfairly characterize as many (not just illegal border crossers, btw) people 'jumping the line' by overstaying their student or visitor's visa or crossing our border is people looking for an opportunity coming from places where there was none. I can understand the motive and also understand that our own immigration policy has no line for the 'Uneducated and hopeless'. My heart of hearts wants them to return to their countries of origin. However, if they intend to stay in this country and raise their families than they should have a process to become Americans. If their long-term plan is to make as much money as they 'can' and then move back to the 'mother country' at the end of their work lives, they should do both countries a favor and go home now.

We should accept the fact that NAFTA created the pressure for our influx of hardworking but under-educated Mexican and Central American illegal immigrants. American agribusiness made their labor unnecessary in their domestic markets.

My grandfather emigrated to the US from Montserrat in his early twenties.

Jan. 21 2014 10:23 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Sixty million Black Americans? Where did they pull that figure out of?

Jan. 21 2014 09:42 AM

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