Landmark discussion tackles immigration in black America

Written by MCJStaff   // January 21, 2014   // 0 Comments

Chirlane McCray, Joy-Ann Reid, and PrasChirlane McCray, Joy-Ann Reid, and Pras. (Getty Images)




SNBC’s Joy-Ann Reid is taking time out of her busy schedule on Wednesday to participate in a high-profile panel discussion on immigration and how it impacts the black community.  Reid, the managing editor of theGrio and a regular MSNBC contributor, will join forces with New York City’s new first lady Chirlane McCray and the Rev. A.R. Bernard, alongside other prominent figures at the All Faces, All Races immigration forum to be held at the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn, where Rev. Bernard is pastor.  Other speakers scheduled to attend on Wednesday include Grammy-award winner Pras Michel, composer Daniel Bernard Roumain, Bishop Orlando Findlayter of New Hope Christian Fellowship, and Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas.  Presented by African-American think tank The Black Institute, the interactive town hall forum aims to heighten the visibility of black immigrants and put the spotlight on current immigration laws, reform efforts, and their impact on immigration.

Adding black voices to the immigration debate

“African-Americans tend to view immigration as a Latino issue, yet in reality it affects a diverse set of nationalities, including a steady flow of black immigrants,” said Bertha Lewis, president of The Black Institute.

Through The G Project (short for “generation” project), The Black Institute aims to help contribute to this conversation on policy in such a way that the issues relevant to blacks are kept under consideration.  “It’s educating the public about the diversity of the African-American electorate, which includes immigrants from Africa, South America and the Caribbean,” said Lewis. “Black immigrants are not in the immigration debate or conversation. But immigration includes all faces and all races.”  Indeed, most demographic discussions of politics or social policy that involve race center on the classification of any black in the U.S. as African-American. However, it is estimated that there are over 60 million first and second generation African-Americans with immigrant backgrounds.

Blacks and Latinos sharing common ground

The issues and concerns that face Latino immigrants also face this vast black population in America.

“The biggest perception is of scare resources,” said Christina Greer, a political science professor at Fordham University and author of Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream.  “It’s easy to blame new immigrants over what the state or policies are not providing,” she added. “The question is how do we figure out how to get substantive policy together.”  During Wednesday’s forum The Black Institute will promote The G Project as an innovative campaign to measure the footprint of immigration in the black community and raise awareness around reform.  A “G” is a black immigrant — an African, Caribbean or Afro-Latino person, who has emigrated to the U.S. from another country – but the concept can apply to anyone, because, if you go back enough generations, we are all immigrants.

Raising awareness of the black immigrant population

The G Project also aims to raise public awareness about the many contributions that successful black immigrants have made to America by identifying black Americans who are either immigrants themselves, or descendants of immigrants.  All the panelists scheduled to attend Wednesday’s forum are either immigrants, or have immigrant parents, grandparents or great-grandparents. In the case of NYC’s first lady, her family has roots in Barbados.  The gathering at the Christian Cultural Center, a renowned megachurch with marked political influence, is expected to attract at least one thousand attendees, including elected officials. Award-winning journalist T.J. Holmes is moderating the discussion.

Follow the discussion, which will start at 6 p.m., on Twitter using the hashtag #gproject.


African Americans

African immigrants

Chirlane McCray


Joy Reid

Joy-Ann Reid



The Black Institute

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