IMMIGRATION RACE ETHNICITY Volume (4) |Episode (83)
Host: Sheryl Glick R.M.T.
Special Guest: Professor Onoso Imogene
In today’s episode of “Healing from Within” your host Sheryl Glick author of The Living Spirit Answers for Healing and Infinite Love welcomes Professor Onoso Imogene author of Beyond Expectations which shares a look at the multifaceted identities of second generation Nigerian adults in the United States and Britain and offers an understanding of the challenges and achievements of African Immigrants and African Americans.
Sheryl and her guests share intimate experiences and observations into the process of self-investigation for personal growth and to understand the nuances of our physical and spiritual essence so we may better face challenges in more effective satisfying ways for better results and the improvement of health prosperity and well-being.
Professor Onoso Imoagene shares an interest in improving racial and ethnic awareness for success and shows us that Nigerian adults conceive of an alternative notion of “black” identity that differs radically from African American and Black Caribbean notions of “black” in the United States and Britain. We may come to understand how race ethnicity and class, shape identity and how globalization trans-nationalism and national context inform sense of self and improve community conditions that combat prejudice and racism.
In thinking back to her childhood Onoso shares that living in a predominately white neighborhood when she was four years old, her mother took her to several pre-nursery schools where she was rejected, because she was black and an immigrant. Sheryl shares a similar remembrance. When Sheryl was fifteen and a counselor in training at a camp in Pennsylvania her parents visited her, They proceeded to go for lunch to a local restaurant which was completely empty. The owner said loud and clear, “There are no tables available.” My parents just turned and left. Sheryl wanted to know why they didn’t talk up. They explained that some people do not like city folks but really we are Jewish and this is what they didn’t like. It was most probably the first time she had seen the ugly face of prejudice and religious discrimination. Sheryl shares with Onoso that she taught in the inner city of New York hoping to help improve the conditions for minorities and became very aware of the problems: a welfare state, drug addiction, single parent families, lack of fathers participating in raising their children crime and lack of opportunities. Beyond any discrimination faced by minorities we need to address and improve the conditions of family life while improving education and helping people lift up out of poverty and the problems associated with that .
Professor Imoagene writes about the differences between first and second generation African Immigrants and African Americans and that their perceptions of each other are different. Immigrants to the United States have perceive a huge chasm between African-Americans and African immigrants in the United States. That chasm has widened over the years. It has caused deep animosity between many African-Americans and their African immigrant cousins.
The problem stems from deep misconceptions, sometimes fueled by the U.S. media. Astonishingly, many African-Americans believe that Africans are backward and primitive. Some make crude jokes about Africans or do not acknowledge the great contribution Africa has made to the world.
For their part, many African immigrants buy into the erroneous notion that African-Americans are lazy and violent. They do not appreciate the great sacrifice African-Americans made, through advocating for their civil rights, to lay the foundation for Africans to be able to come to the United States and live in a country where both blacks and whites have equal rights, at least in theory if not always in practice.
To understand the deep division that exists between African Americans and Africans, one first has to examine the background of the two groups.Before migrating to the United States, most Africans have typically dealt with white Americans who went to Africa as Peace Corps volunteers, missionaries, doctors or teachers. These Americans acted as mentors and guardians to the Africans and developed positive relationships with them. When they come to the United States, it has been my experience that Africans can easily identify with white Americans because they understand each other. Before migrating to the United States, the majority of Africans have had little to no direct negative experiences with whites. They simply do not hate them. On the other hand, most African-Americans grew up in black neighborhoods where they learned from older generations the history of slavery and the cruelty it inflicted on the black race. Furthermore, they have usually experienced firsthand and in their communities the legacies of racism that still exist in the United States.With this background, many African-Americans are not generally predisposed to trust white Americans, and they look down on those African immigrants who express respect or admiration for white Americans.
Sheryl expresses concern that there is actually racism between people of the same ancestry originating from Africa over many generations.
A fundamental difference between African Americans and African immigrants it seems is the way they react to racism and discrimination. African Americans usually see racism as the main cause of poverty among their people. They are also quick to point out instances of perceived racism, even in circumstances where it is ambiguous, unclear or more complex than simple racial bigotry or discrimination. It might be however that poverty and lack of education family values and community opportunities for integration might decrease people’s ability to move out of poverty and foster better connections between different groups, diminishing the effects of racism and continued separation between people.
A classic example of long held negative beliefs and anger has lead to the currently large African-American population in prison. Most African-Americans feel that the only reason there are so many African Americans incarcerated is their race. This of course is not true. They blame police discrimination and lawmakers who make laws weighted to punish blacks. Might also be that there is a great deal of criminal activity in the black culture due to poverty and lack of support to earn enough money for a decent lifestyle. Often people look for excuses rather than solutions to improve this state of inequality in living standards that has gone on for way too long. A welfare system that was only meant to be used intermittently cannot continue to support new generations to live exclusively in this unhealthy state. Work and moving into the middle class dynamic is the way for increasing better standards of behavior and life experience.
For Africans, after suffering many years in civil wars, military coups and other problems, they are happy to be in a country like the United States or Britain that offers them freedom. They are ready to integrate into the American culture without getting involved in the lingering racial conflicts. They do not typically get involved in the ongoing civil rights struggle – and that has angered many African-Americans. Sheryl suggests as a spiritual teacher it is known that living in the past which no longer exists, in a state of blame and anger for slavery and abuses, does not support this present time where growth and success for all people through education and spiritual evolution can be realized. The progress that many African Americans and African immigrants have made must be honored and groups that revel in past destructive thinking and promote focusing on past atrocities rather than the advancements of their people are doing us all great harm.
Perhaps the greatest difference we have seen between African immigrants and African-Americans is how they react to adversity.
1. Most African immigrants to the United States came here for economic advancement. They do not have any political agenda. They are willing to take any job and do not blame the “system” when they fail in their endeavors.
2. Most African immigrants to the United States often live in mixed neighborhoods instead of black neighborhoods and they easily integrate. African immigrants know who they are. They are not easily offended when someone tries to put them down. They know where they come from and why they are here.
3. For African-Americans, there is often a tendency to blame slavery for most of the problems they face today. For instance, when African American students fail in school, some educators blame slavery and do not look for other factors
4. However, the time has come for African Americans to realize that while racism still persists, the best thing they can do for their children is to teach them to take full responsibility for their actions. Fathers need to take care of their children and young women need to stay in school instead of having children.
Sheryl says the solution might include black people, be they from Africa or America, all unite to instill discipline and respect for each other, then the chasm that has divided different sects will narrow. People can finally work together to end poverty both here in the United States Britain Africa , end separation and work toward one humanity under one living creative force that loves us all regardless of race gender religion sexual preference o cultural differences… We are indeed just HUMAN
Professor Imoagene addresses the African American problems and asks whether they are caused by external forces or are they their fault?
Perhaps Black Americans have developed a sense of identity in opposition to White Americans because of the social, economic, and political subordination they have encountered, and established an oppositional frame of reference–Black Americans have developed protective devices to reactively promote Black identity by sustaining boundaries between themselves and the dominant White culture. This would be explained by groups like Black Lives Matter which profess that police unfairly target black men. This has not entirely been proven by statistics and the interest they now have in erasing statues and reminders of the history of slavery and the civil war will do nothing to erase the separation and anger they fuel by these actions. Let the past go and continue to enter society in all professions through education and through good will…that is the way for progress to be made and racial divide to be conquered.
Fordham and Ogbu (1986) claim that Black children learn these “twin phenomena” at an early age and that notions of identity become rooted in “fictive kinship,” an intense sense of group loyalty and membership extending beyond conventional family relationships. Because of this notion of fictive kinship, which the authors claim began during slavery, Black Americans emphasize group loyalty in situations involving conflict and competition with White Americans.
British African Caribbean (or Afro-Caribbean) people are residents of the United Kingdom who are of West Indian background and whose ancestors were primarily natives or indigenous to Africa. As immigration to the United Kingdom from Africa increased in the 1990s, the term has sometimes been used to include UK residents solely of African origin, or as a term to define all Black British residents, though the phrase “African and Caribbean” has more often been used to cover such a broader grouping.
Immigration is and has been one of the top five political issues in each election in the UK since 2002. (Kahiye Alim, Lawyer) Today, it’s very difficult to come to Britain.”Now, UK law has split families – a point that South Africa-based immigration lawyer Johannes Breytenbach makes. He notes that Britons must now earn a minimum of $30,000 (£18,600) a year to bring over a spouse who is a non-European Union (EU) citizen. He says this would disadvantage a British stay-at-home mother who would like to be joined by her spouse, who could be a successful businessman. It would seem that immigration laws under review now in the United States are part of a worldwide look at how to absorb so many people and different cultural groups with language differences and religious affiliations into societies already overwhelmed with serious social issues.
We speak of identity formation and the processes and mechanisms that affect identity formation. As a result, in the United States the term “black people” is not an indicator of skin color or ethnic origin but is instead a socially based racial classification related to being African American, with a family history associated with institutionalized slavery.
Ethnic identity development or ethnic-racial identity (ERI) development includes the identity formation in an individual’s self-categorization in, and psychological attachment to, (an) ethnic group(s). Ethnic identity is characterized as part of one’s overarching self-concept and identification. It is distinct from the development of ethnic group identities. With some few exceptions, ethnic and racial identity development is associated positively with good psychological outcomes, psychosocial outcomes (e.g., better self-beliefs, less depressive symptoms), academic outcomes (e.g., better engagement in school), (e.g., less risk of risky sexual behavior or drug use).
Development of ethnic identity begins during adolescence. It is important to note that given the vastly different histories of various racial groups, particularly in the United States, that ethnic and racial identity development looks very different between different groups, especially when looking at minority (e.g., Black American) compared to majority (e.g., White American) group comparisons.
Research on racial identity development emerged from the experiences of African Americans during the civil rights movement, however expanded over time to include the experiences of other racial groups. The concept of racial identity is often misunderstood and can have several meanings which are derived from biological dimensions and social dimensions. Race is socially understood to be derived from an individual’s physical features, such as white or black skin tone. The social construction of racial identity can be referred as a sense of group or collective identity based on one’s perception that he or she shares a common heritage with a particular racial group. Racial identity is a surface-level manifestation based on what people look like yet has deep implications in how people are treated
Black Americans have developed a sense of identity in opposition to White Americans because of the social, economic, and political subordination they have encountered, and oppositional frame of reference–Black Americans have developed protective devices to reactively promote Black identity by sustaining boundaries between themselves and the dominant White culture.
Sheryl suggests that perhaps the only way to defeat this segregated limited perception that has been politically and culturally pursued for far too long is to continue to offer jobs educational spots and improve economic mobility while trying to move away from identity politics and separating groups from one another. The science of energy, of Universal Energy and Quantum Physics emphasize the oneness and unity of all life. More spirituality leads to the true nature of Spirit soul life and is the only way past racial religious and cultural and national differences… In Sheryl’s book The Living Spirit Answers for Healing and Infinite Love she wrote, “Highly conscious human beings now and in the future e the templates for the evolution of humanity and for the creation of a finer state of harmony and balance. It will be in the sharing of our dynamic beautiful inspiring thoughts and in rethinking and reprogramming any limiting thoughts that the shift will move us to a more productive level of purer thought and action.” This will naturally assist all people to look past labels and division and find unity.
Today, parts of what used to be the core messages of the far right, such as tough stances on issues of immigration and asylum and the denouncement of multiculturalism, have been incorporated in the agendas of the political mainstream, further creating and reinforcing negative attitudes towards religious and ethnic minorities. Often, the victims are those who are furthest marginalized as it is. Xenophobia is defined as the fear and distrust of that which is perceived to be foreign or strange. Xenophobia can manifest itself in many ways involving the relations and perceptions of an in-group towards an out-group including a fear of losing identity, suspicion of its activities, aggression and desire to eliminate its presence to secure a presumed purity. It should be discouraged by all who wish to evolve and reach a state of acceptance and love for life.
Going back to history of slavery helps us understand the effects on African Americans and Second Generation African Immigrants. A description of how these people were taken and brought to their new land and the conditions they endured are buried within the music and stories they shared with each new generation and so is the pain and fear of that experience for many. No matter what their sex, age, and nationality, Africans shipped to the New World endured the trauma of enslavement. Captured deep in the African interior, Africans faced a long, deadly march to the coast. Traveling sometimes for months, they were passed from group to group, as many different African nations participated in the slave trade. But whoever drove the captives to their unwanted destiny, the circumstances of their travel were extraordinarily taxing. In some places, some forty percent of the slaves died between their initial capture in the interior and their arrival on the coast. The captives then faced the nightmarish transatlantic crossing. The depths of human misery and the astounding death toll of men and women packed in the stinking hulls still remains difficult to fathom. While we must remember these circumstances have influenced this group we must not relive it constantly and feed the energy and emotion of the past.
African American life in the United States has been framed by migrations, forced and free. A forced migration from Africa—the transatlantic slave trade—carried black people to the Americas. A second forced migration—the internal slave trade—transported them from the Atlantic coast to the interior of the American South. A third migration—this time initiated largely, but not always, by black Americans—carried black people from the rural South to the urban North. At the end of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first, African American life is again being transformed by another migration, this time a global one, as peoples of African descent from all parts of the world enter the United States.
The problem of racism in the UK is also one that remains worrisome. The UK has had its share of racial upheaval in the form of riots that took place throughout the 20th century, most notably perhaps in the 1980s. As a mechanism, racism in the UK does not differ from that in other countries, with the same fears and “bogeymen” causing negative attitudes, resentment, and violence. To detach racism in the UK from the colonial past of the Empire is, of course, impossible for obvious reasons.
Professor Imoagene wrote “By linking ethnic identity to social mobility segmented assimilation theory predicts that the black second generation are “at risk of joining the masses of the disposed, commanding the spectacle of inequality and despair in American cities it appears that an oppositional culture that devalues schooling and work and valorizes attitudes and behaviors antithetical to and which imperils success in the mainstream economy. This doesn’t recognize a prediction of a black middle class. This is a major problem. Sheryl says it is unfortunate that the middle class is declining and more people of all races and religions are sinking into poverty. We must get beyond these wounded feelings of the past. Many mistakes have been made as history continually shows us. We went terribly wrong in the treatment of many groups of people, but a spiritual sense and love of life should in these modern times be more in tune for bringing kindness compassion and fairness instead of the hatred fueled by radical fringe groups and political mindlessness.
Professor Onoso Imogene author of Beyond Expectations has given a candid and appropriate look at immigration and both the failures and successes of so many people to move beyond the fears of an ego- based reality of differences between African Americans and African Immigrants to an energetic knowing that we are all connected and must establish a clearer acceptance of OUR humanity.
In summarizing this search into the feelings and needs of African Nigerian Immigrants and Africa American citizens who like most people wounded in childhood from trauma racism rejection and any lack of respect or kindness carry these wounds into their adult life often causing economic, emotional, physical health issues, and addictions. Blame, racism prejudice often lead society to lose the momentum to reach higher awareness and unity for improvements for all groups. Though it is definitely harder for immigrants of any race religion and nationality to assimilate into a culture that is very different than their own, it is necessary! It is only through letting go of the past and building a better NOW that we move past challenging conditions, hold on to family, faith and trust, in knowing, that indeed a bigger universal plan is at work for creating new conditions to prosper and love. Success may not be based on your economic level but on the level of goodness from within. We must not see ourselves as Nigerian African American or Christian Muslim Jewish or any other group identity…I believe the hope for moving past separation of all kinds lies in discovering our energetic soul presence and in that multi-dimensional condition that we are all equal. Perhaps we should relate to ourselves as souls having a physical life here for the purpose of creating and manifesting love and compassion and not buy into the intellectual, ego- based labels and identity politics that cause so much anger and separate one person from another.
Guest: Professor Onoso Imoagene