Let's make no mistake about it: as the years pass, America is becoming a "browner" nation. With the present discourse over immigration reform, we have an extraordinary opportunity to mix our understanding and appreciation for race, culture and language with public policy.
Fidi Andriambalohery of Madagascar, Carmen Holassie of Trinidad and Tobago, and Norman Washington Malcolm of Jamaica say the Pledge of Alligence for the first time as sU.S. citizens during a naturalization ceremony at the Newseum July 3, 2008 in Washington, DC. Fifty people from many countries, including Germany Nigeria and Vitenam, became naturalized citizens of the United States during the ceremony on the eve of Independence Day. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
We, the people of America, have been wrestling with our self identity, and will continue to do so in the near future. With Black History Month imminently upon us, we can not only celebrate our history, heritage and culture, but we can also insert ourselves in a critical national debate on how to fix our broken immigration system.
Likewise, this immigration debate provides the black community an opportunity to learn more about the stories and challenges of black immigrants who increasingly populate our states as asylees, refugees, legal immigrants, and undocumented persons. The growing numbers of these black immigrants and their offspring have huge implications for the demographic makeup of black social and economic institutions, workplaces, places of worship, and ultimately personal relationships.
In recent years, the immigration debate has been centered around border security and subsequently, the media's "Hispanicizing" the conversation into a narrow focus. On the contrary, our American humanity is much more diverse than meets the naked eye of the headlines, or the naked ear of cable talk shows.
The black community has much at stake in the immigration debate, due to the broader implications for our economy. Black immigrants can be seen and heard at all levels of society. They are our college professors. The nurse in the ER. The janitor in your favorite hotel. The laborer on the construction site. The security guard in your building. The taxi driver taking you to your next appointment. The medical doctor at the local clinic. The small business owner at the local corner grocery store. They are at the ground level and heart of America.
The movement of black people to America for centuries -- voluntarily and involuntarily -- places us directly in the middle of the changing DNA of the U.S. With this mind, national civil rights and advocacy organizations, such as the NAACP, Urban League, National Bar Association, and others would be advised not to take a passive role in this conversation. Rather, they should seek greater collaboration with other national immigration reform advocacy and civil rights groups. Likewise, the Congressional Black Caucus must be cognizant of the ever-changing dynamics of this issue on the national political scene and the impact on some of their constituents.
Source: The Grio | Marlon A. Hill