June 05, 2014
By Torré Brannon-Reese
LAWT Contributing Writer
Imagine being a child, 7, 8, 9 years old. You were born in Belize, Cuba, Trinidad, the Bahamas, Jamaica, Guatemala, or somewhere else in the beautiful Caribbean Islands, or Central America. Suddenly, your mother leaves home, is gone for a year, maybe two or three; finally, she comes back to get you and takes you to this wonderful place called America! America, that far-way land you’ve heard of, where everybody is free, eternally happy, and rich beyond your wildest dreams.
Well, the reality for hundreds of thousands of “innocent children”, many now full grown adults, is a life devoid of true freedom. The reality is that hundreds of thousands of innocent/immigrants live their lives in a state of constant fear of deportation. Deportation from America, back to a land they know nothing about and have no emotional connection to. Hundreds of thousands of “undocumented citizens”, many who have been in this country for 20, 30 and 40 years, live in constant fear that one day, they will be stripped away from their children, family, friends and loved ones, and forcibly taken away from the only life they’ve ever known. Their lives are eerily similar to that of millions of innocent enslaved Africans in America, who lived their lives in this same state of fear and “perceived freedom”.
The assumption for the majority of us who are of African descent, is that this is a “Mexican” or “Latino” issue. And many of “us”, due to our cultural/historical ignorance, acquired racial prejudice and or social/political apathy, turn a blind eye toward this issue, as if it does not affect us. We need to think again, because, guess what, it affects us (Black people) in more ways than one. If nothing else, our political behavior (I’m generalizing with intelligence) on this issue has helped to define our national image in ways most of us, do not even understand.
As we run scared that the “illegals” (as our ancestors were called) are taking away our jobs, we naturally align ourselves politically with right wing conservatives/segregationist who have never had our best interest at heart, and who use us as political footballs based upon our own prejudices, ignorance and media inspired fears.
As a native of New Orleans, Louisiana, I am proud to know that my historical lineage not only goes back to Africa, yet, my bloodline connects me to the triumphant Haiti people. This due to the influx of Haitians, migrating into New Orleans after their revolution and independence from France in the early 1800’s.
Yet, this writing is not so concerned about the “politics”, as it is about the “human” side of this issue. As people of color who (should be) knowledgeable and appreciative of our history, I’d think we’d be particularly concerned and actively involved in helping to create meaningful, respectful solutions on this issue. The unfortunate argument that immigrants hurt employment opportunities for low skilled, marginally educated Blacks, has been adopted by right wing conservatives as their mantra, and again, further promotes an image of Black men as helpless, pitiful victims, who in 200 years, have failedto make progress in American society. Sadly, these same so-called, “second class human beings”, are tricked into fighting against other low-skilled, marginalized, economically/politically exploited class of persons, or, Latinos.
Historically, the greatest among us, knowing the power of coalition building and cultural bonding, have consciously reached out to our brothers and sisters of color in the Diaspora; people such as, W.E.B.DuBois, Marcus Garvey, Paul Robeson, Malcolm X, and Dr. Martin Luther King, were all in search of positive and productive relationships amongst people of color; who comprise the majority (not minority) of the human beings on the planet.
I imagine that if Dr. King were still alive, he would fight with all his power against the devilish deportation/slave treatment of innocent, law abiding, tax-paying citizens, whose only crime was being born in Another Country.
Innocent Black Immigrants
And if Malcolm X were here, I am confident that he would point a stern finger at his people; who, in
2014, still have our hands stretched out, begging our former slave masters for hand-outs!
My feeling is that Malcolm would be about the business of focusing our energies/attention on “ownership” and the building of our own economic and political systems and institutions.
What a shameful thing we do to the legacies of our ancestors, when we waste time & talent, hating on other political victims, who, by the way, actually own the spiritual birthright to this land we call America.
My hope and prayer is that we become actively involved in this grand, international struggle for human dignity. Further, and as a realistic/optimist, I do believe that as more of our close friends and family members are affected by this unfortunate phenomenon, we will get involved.
As far as I am concerned, the current Black Immigration reality is not unlike that of our slave era experience. The free, northern born Negroes, enjoying access to education, jobs and opportunity, had a choice, they could stand idly by, and watch our southern born brothers and sisters suffer the indignities of chattel slavery; or they could do as sister Harriet Tubman did, and fight for the freedom of their people. I stand with Harriet, where so you stand?
It is our responsibility, as a people who were formally “forced immigrants”, to preserve and honor our legacy. Our legacy is one of compassion, kindness, self-education and courageous action. Let’s honor our legacy, get involved.