6 things we learnt from Tariq’s Twitter Spaces conversation about immigration

Immigration is an age-long conversation. Humanity has been on the move and will continue to be. Some people move in search of work or economic opportunities, for academic tourism, to join family members or simply to experience another geographical location other than theirs. Others move to escape conflict, persecution, terrorism, or human rights violations. Still others move in response to the adverse effects of climate change, natural disasters, or other environmental factors.

These days, there are more people who live in countries other than their own than ever before. According to the IOM World Migration Report 2020, as of June 2019 the number of international migrants was estimated to be almost 272 million globally, 51 million more than in 2010. Nearly two thirds were labour migrants. International migrants comprised 3.5 per cent of the global population in 2019. This compared to 2.8 per cent in 2000 and 2.3 per cent in 1980.

The United States has more immigrants than any other country in the world. Today, more than 40 million people living in the U.S. were born in another country, accounting for about one-fifth of the world’s migrants. The population of immigrants is also diverse, with just about every country in the world represented among U.S. immigrants.

About 4.6 million, or one-in-ten, Black people in the U.S. were born in a different country as of 2019, up from 3% in 1980. By 2060, the U.S. Census Bureau projects that this number will increase to 9.5 million, or more than double the current level (the Census Bureau only offers projections for single race groups).

Migration from Africa has fueled the bulk of the growth of the Black foreign-born population from 2000 onward. In 2000, roughly 560,000 African-born Black immigrants lived in the U.S. By 2019, that number had more than tripled to over 1.9 million. At the same time, a notable share of Black Americans today are the offspring of immigrants. 

About 9 per cent of Black people are second-generation Americans – meaning they were born in the U.S., but have at least one foreign-born parent, according to a Centre analysis of the March supplement of the Census Bureau’s 2019 Current Population Survey. In total, Black immigrants and their U.S.-born children account for 21 per cent of the overall Black population. 

Read also: #SecureTheTribe: With Liberia in view, Africans and Afro-Americans stand up to each other

With these figures in retrospect, Tariq Nasheed, an American movie producer, filmmaker, author, born on July 1, 1974, thinks there is a group we all ignore when we talk about the black race – Foundational Black Americans.

Tariq argues that foundational black Americans have always existed in the US, and should not be placed on the same pedestal as other black groups, especially the immigrants. He opened a conversation on Twitter Spaces, where he insists that black immigrants do no good to the struggles of the foundational black American, and they should actually be grateful for the existence and struggles of the foundational Black American. He adds that these immigrants add no value to the economy, as foundational black Americans already make all the money America needs.

The conversation lasted a while and had a lot of Nigerians arguing against the ideas he was trying to push. In case you missed it, we list six things we learnt from that conversation:

Conversations between Africans and Afro-Americans (AAs) highlight deep-rooted hatred and distrust

This hatred did not start with Tariq’s Spaces. We have seen this on social media and in physical conversations. Tariq mentions that Africans are jealous of the existence of AAs, so lead conversations against them. Tariq, a school drop out, argues that black immigrants get into the country to get up jobs AAs have fought for centuries. Africans, on the other hand, argue that AAs have the superiority complex.

Nigerians unite in dire circumstances

The country has over 500 languages, and ethnic groups you cannot use your fingers to count. This is because the idea of Nigeria was not talked over and over before it was called a country. This variety usually causes heated conversations that lead to tribalism. One tribe internalises prejudices which are passed on from generation to generation. Yet, in cases like Tariqs’ who wants to lump everyone together arguing that their presence in the US causes more harm, Nigerians don’t fail to unite to attack the bug.

Afro-Americans assume cultures merge in one fell swoop

Tariq argues that immigrants get to the US, and begin to form concepts different from Black Americanism. So, we have concepts like African American. This, he says, affects the black struggle because there is no unity when disparate groups exist. Even Nigerians in their country do not have culture merges as easy as that. Identity is important and that may be the reason for the classification.

Immigration from Africa is not tourism, it is mostly a move away from a bad situation

If Nigeria used its resources well, it would be a destination country for immigrants. America has resources that help boost the economy, no doubt, but Nigeria has as much as more. There is a fundamental leadership problem that causes people to look for greener pastures elsewhere. What is most interesting about this is that African leaders do not care about mass immigration, as long as it does not affect what gets into their pockets. Africans – immigrants – believe the US has resources to make people’s lives better, and move away from their countries of birth to tap into that.

Through the eyes of Tariq, Afro-Americans think they have suffered the most

The conversation on suffering and slavery, and discrimination should not be a competition. Tariq assumes the discrimination black people have gone through – and still go through – in the US is native to Afro-Americans. Africans have no idea, and should not allowed to enjoy the benefits of the struggles without first bowing to them. “Without our struggles, you would not be able to migrate to the US,” Tariq says.

History is a reference as much as a problem

There is not historical fact that has not being abridged. History itself helps us understand the past, to do better now and in the future. But, when it is rewritten with dramatic effects and misunderstood, it becomes a problem. Tariq says Nigerians moved a lot and so may not be able to trace their ancestry. “We have always been here in the US. Can you Africans trace your ancestry from 500 years ago?” Tariq calls Nigeria a relatively new country, so, its locals are not aborigine’s of where they are now. The possibilities of that can only be found in Tariq’s history books.

Meanwhile, we do not think Tariq represents the Afro-American race, even though we have questions.

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