The African Immigrant Vs Black American Situation

Mr. Anon.

Based on my own experience as an African immigrant, I know that African immigrants do not get along with black people in America.

When I first moved here, I got the usual “do lions roam around the streets” questions you would expect to get from small-town, mostly older, only-watch-one-news-channel, Americans.

I guess it felt more offensive to me to hear the same ignorant questions coming from my black acquaintances, who were my age (20/21) and who you’d expect to be better exposed to the world. Questions are fine for the most part, you can laugh questions off, but then, I’ve also had black people around me make fun of African accents — saying things like clicking noises and Tarzan grammar.

On the flip side, I found it hard to assimilate into the black culture because in a lot of ways, it’s different from mine.

There’s also just a weird tension between Africans and black Americans, like we remind each other of everything we are not.

I admit, I look at particular situations in the news, and I think, “Are you really going to complain when you live in the land of opportunity, where you don’t have to walk through hot sun and dust to get to class, or worry about dictators and war anytime the country goes through an election?”.

A lot of bad things, really bad things happen to black people in America, but a lot of bad things happen to Africans in Africa as well but we just get back up and keep swinging.

So I guess generally speaking, Africans view black Americans as privileged for being born in the West and having all that has to offer, but not taking advantage of it.

Black Americans might lack the sense of belonging and deeply rooted culture that Africans have from the “motherland”, and how being African comes with an innate confidence from knowing-ones-self.

Most of my friends while I was at school were Asian, African and European immigrants. I guess because we related to each other from having different accents, same parental pressure/drive to succeed, humility and a high work ethic, keep your head down and don’t rock the boat attitude.

Post-school, I’m married to a white American, we live in a small town where I’m probably 1 of 4 black people, and our children will be African-American.

I am definitely nervous about having to navigate this tension with my kids, so I’m learning, trying and hoping for the best.

Please note that this post is full of generalizations, and I only speak for myself and the people I’ve interacted and shared stories with.

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