First, let’s look at some data. The Pew Research Center published this report in January 2022 that looks at the increase in immigration from African countries.
Jamaica and Haiti remain countries of origin for black immigrants
Although there have been some changes in the top countries of origin of black immigrants to the US, in both 2000 and 2019, Jamaica and Haiti have been the top two countries, respectively. In 2000, they were nearly four-in-one in the two Caribbean countries. -10 (39%) black immigrants, but in 2019, their collective share had dropped to 31%, indicating a greater diversity of black immigrants in the U.S. Nigeria and Ethiopia top for black African immigrants in the U.S. in 2019 were the birthplaces of About 390,000 and 260,000 immigrants, respectively.
The Migration Policy Institute (MPI) published this detailed report by Jane Lorenzi and Jean Batalova in July 2022:
About 4.5 million Caribbean immigrants are living in the United States in 2019, representing 10 percent of the country’s total foreign-born population of 44.9 million. About 90 percent of immigrants to the United States from 13 Caribbean countries and 17 dependent territories come from one of four countries: Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and Haiti.
The Caribbean is the most common region of birth for the 4.5 million black immigrants to the United States, accounting for 46 percent of the total. Jamaica (16 percent) and Haiti (15 percent) are the two largest countries of origin for black immigrants. There are different push and pull factors for Caribbean citizens, given that the United States previously exercised direct political control over most Caribbean countries, with the notable exception of Jamaica.
Voluntary, large-scale migration from the Caribbean to the United States began in the first half of the 20th century.th century, following the end of the Spanish-American War, when a defeated Spain renounced its claims to Cuba and, among other actions, ceded Puerto Rico to the United States. In the early 1900s, American firms hired Caribbean workers to help build the Panama Canal, and many of these immigrants later settled in New York. The high demand for labor in American fruit-harvesting industries drew additional labor migrants, especially to Florida. After World War II, U.S. companies heavily recruited thousands of English-speaking “W2” contract workers from the Bahamas, Jamaica, and Barbados to fill critical jobs in health care and agriculture. Around the same time, political instability in Cuba, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic increased emigration from the region. After the Cuban Revolution of 1959, an estimated 1.4 million people fled to the United States. While the first large migration of immigrants from Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and other Caribbean countries consisted mostly of members of the elite and skilled professionals, later flows consisted primarily of their family members and working-class individuals.
So, the Caribbean black people are here. Historically many Caribbean blacks were the ancestors of many, many black Americans as enslaved people caught up in the transatlantic triangle trade, were “experienced” in the Caribbean before being sold to the United States. For example, you can take a look at the Middlelow-Hall database, which documents enslaved persons brought to Louisiana during the period 1719-1820.
However, as I mentioned at the beginning of this story, there are those who are vocally and offensively opposed to black immigrants, even denying that they are “real black Americans.” I addressed this issue in May 2019 when the group making the most negative noise was ADOS, whose acronym “American Descendants of Slavery.” You can also read a detailed disclaimer by JESSICA ANN MICHELLE IVOUR.
Many of the online attacks against our now-Vice President Kamala Harris, who are Jamaican American and Indian American—and Black—were orchestrated by ADOS, which was covered in this 2019 article in Slate by Rachel Hampton:
Malcolm Nance, counterterrorism and intelligence advisor to the US government; Warned on Twitter that “For 5 months a small group of black cyber security experts have been watching a group of black Trumpers using #ADOS and warning that it was the leading edge of a racist Russian cyber attack on @KamalaHarris. Many bots . some troll.” In fact, there’s evidence that misinformers are happy to use #ADOS as a weapon in their meme arsenal. On a 4chan /pol/ thread that asks for dirt on Harris, One user wrote, “Highlight the fact that most American blacks (#ADOS) hate her for posing as one of them, when in fact she is the descendant of Caribbean slave owners and upper-class street- white She does not speak for African Americans. ” Another wrote, “I have a bunch of [email protected] accounts for the sole purpose of astroturfing compensation. It will destroy the Democratic Party. #ADOS #FuckYouPayMe.” Another said in January, “Make sure we tell them that Kamala is Jamaican/Indian mix and that ADOS is not a descendant of American slaves.”
Part of the ADOS movement has now morphed into “Foundational Black Americans (FBA),” founded by Tariq Nasheed, a filmmaker and author of books glorifying pimping, who also has a large YouTube following. IMDB has a short bio. (I am not linking to his website or video channel.)
Shannon Dawson recently wrote a story for NewsOne explaining the FBA movement:
Over the past year, you may have seen the phrase Foundational Black American (FBA) thrown around the internet thanks to “The World’s #1 Race Boy,” Tariq Nasheed. In January, during a Twitter space discussion, the controversial media personality sent buzzwords trending when he argued that black Americans are native to the United States. Since then, the polarizing author and documentarian’s faith has attracted millions of supporters in the black community, many of whom claim to also identify as a foundational black American. But what is the real meaning of this word?
According to the official FBA website, the foundational blacks are Americans Descendants of black slaves who built the United States from scratch. Adherents of the ideology, however, believe that the origins and history of fundamental black Americans did not begin with the beginning of slavery in the early 1600s. They firmly believe that the FBA settled in North America in 1526, when they were allegedly brought from the Caribbean by a “colonist” named Lucas Vázquez de Aylon. […]
FBA does not believe in the concept of Pan-Africanism. They believe that they are a unique ethnic group with complex cultural and social ideologies that differ from African and other black immigrants. Community members often refer to people who do not identify with the culture as “non-FBAs”.
This innocent piece was roundly trolled by Nasheed’s followers.
Why is this all important? As we are locked in a life and death struggle with MAGA insurgents and a Republican Party that has devolved into MAGA white supremacists spreading hatred among our most vulnerable citizens, many non-black Democrats who regularly black They don’t pay attention to social media. Who has been the most staunch supporter of the Democratic Party, completely unaware of the divisive forces trying to tear apart the Black community. Our Caribbean communities need more attention from the rest of us, not less. Black Lives Matter no matter where they, or their ancestors, were born.
I also take it personally. I’ve been attacked on social media as “not-black” and told to shut up if I’m talking about black issues. All because of the “Velez” in my name (my husband’s surname), and because I was a member of the Young Lords Party in the past, which was very active in the Puerto Rican community in the late 60’s and early 60’s. The 70’s
My pinned tweet was chosen for one reason:
My husband is black. His family is Puerto Rican. Many of my religious family members and friends from the Caribbean and Brazil are black.
Any group of people who seek to advance an agenda to negate our shared history and culture is dangerous and must be condemned. This weekly series was born out of what I felt was a need to introduce more readers to Caribbean culture and politics, both in the Caribbean and here in America. I hope it gets it.
Join me in the comments section below for the weekly Caribbean News Roundup. I hope that those of you who live in or near Caribbean communities will have the opportunity to attend the upcoming festivities.