March 15, 2011

Teleconference: New African Immigrants-Grappling with Concepts of Race and Identity

The Black Alliance for Just Immigration & Priority Africa Network present

Black Intersections on Migration – Series III of IV Teleconferences

Thursday, March 31: New African Immigrants-Grappling with Concepts of Race and Identity

Speaker: Jackie Copeland Carson, PhD, President Copeland-Carson and Associates and author of "Creating Africa in America: Translocal Identity in an Emerging World City".

Moderator: Nunu Kidane, Director Priority Africa Network

Dr. Copeland-Carson will speak on the following topics and more:

- Figures of increase of African immigrants in the U.S

- Why is this significant, particularly for African American communities

- Understanding the importance of race and immigration as relates to African immigrants

- What are some of the important points to consider for organizers and social justice activists to increase outreach into African immigrant communities

- The need to develop a global Pan African consciousness

Toll-free Dial-in (US/Canada): 1-866-931-7845

International Dial-in: 1-310-374-4949

Conference Code: 484457

Please RSVP by calling (510) 663-2254 or sending an email to

Speaker Bio

Trained as an anthropologist and urban planner, Dr. Copeland-Carson has worked for over 25 years as an executive, grant-maker, evaluator, or researcher for philanthropies, including the Pew, Lilly, Noyes and Northwest Area foundations among others. In addition to serving as vice president of The Philadelphia Foundation, she was the founding managing director and vice president for private philanthropy at US Bank’s Private Client Group. Currently she is founding principal of Copeland Carson & Associates, an international consulting practice providing program design, evaluation and related services to diverse philanthropies in the U.S. and abroad. A frequently sought after speaker and published author on a wide range of nonprofit sector issues, Dr. Copeland-Carson has also taught philanthropy to graduate students for the University of Minnesota and St. Mary’s University. Over her career, she has worked with several hundred foundations. Current clients include Bertelsmann Foundation, Grantmakers Concerned about Immigrants and Refugees, and the Ford Foundation among others.

Dr. Copeland-Carson holds two masters degrees, one in urban planning and the other in cultural anthropology, with a Ph.D. in anthropology all from the University of Pennsylvania. She has done fieldwork in Nigeria as well as numerous U.S. cities and rural communities. Her undergraduate degrees are from Georgetown University in literature and African studies. She also studied African history, culture, languages and religion at Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria.

An expert in community development, cross-cultural issues, immigration and emerging markets, Dr. Copeland-Carson’s most recent books and articles examine issues in diversity, evaluation, community revitalization, alternative finance, and transnationalism. She serves on the board of the African Women’s Development Fund and is founder and chair of the Pan-African Women’s Philanthropy Network.

Background to teleconference series:

The United Nations has declared 2011 as the “International Year for Peoples of African Descent”. Ten years ago, landmark recommendations were made at the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in Durban South Africa. In a four-part series of teleconferences that looks at the span of Black presence in the U.S. over the centuries, we will examine the unique migration experiences of the African Diaspora within the context of U.S. history and the current debate over immigration. The series brings provocative frameworks and analyses into the discussion about race and immigration that are seldom considered.

March 10, 2011

Examining Black History & Forging our Future —The Challenges of Migration and Globalization

Post by Phil Hutchings, BAJI Senior Organizer

Practically every African American has been touched in some way by the great Black Migrations out of the Southern states between 1914 and 1960. Most everyone has a parent, grandparent, uncle, aunt or some family relative who was a participant in that historic migration. In the case of the author, my mother's family came from small towns near Memphis, Tennessee, while my father and his father migrated from Macon, Georgia. Both parts of my future family ended up in Cleveland, Ohio, where I was born.

But the migration continues. People have not stopped moving from place to place. Today the United Nations tells us that across the globe there are 230 million people not living in their country of birth, with 2/3 of them being from the continent of Africa. More people are migrating from one country to another, or within the same country than ever before in human history.

Some of these migrations are caused by wars, climate changes or chances for family reunification. But most of the migration in today’s world is caused by the forces of economic globalization and foreign aid policies based upon the privatization of resources for the wealthy, which has made making a living next to impossible in many countries of Latin America, Africa and Asia.

But migration is not only a geographical phenomenon, but also a psychological one as well. The late scholar Florette Migri in her book titled "Black Migration: The Movement North, from Myth to Man" reminds us that one of the byproducts of migrating was the inner transformation of people, i.e., changing notions of who they were and what they were capable of accomplishing.

Today in 2011, many years after the great migrations and now over 50 years since the glory days of the Civil Rights Movement, we see a situation where most African American communities in major cities and many small towns are worse off in many respects than they were in the past. Statistics on unemployment and underemployment, bad housing, poor schools, health problems, incarceration, and the widening racial wealth gap all paint a dismal picture of where we are today as a people.

And perhaps because of the above-mentioned statistics, African American migrations continue into the present time. Many Black people have made a "reverse migration” back to fast growing cities of the New South. Even in cities of the North and the West Coast, there is a pattern of black migration out of the old “inner-city neighborhoods" to mostly black suburbs outside the traditional city boundaries.

At the same time many newcomers from global migrations caused by economic globalization are increasingly moving into what were once majority Black communities. Historic black communities are increasingly dealing with people from all parts of the world, particularly from Mexico and other Latin American nations, along with peoples from Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific.

Are there still "black communities" today? Where does "black space" exist now in the complex of U.S. metropolitan communities? Are these "newcomers" in our areas "competitors", "neighbors", or potential "allies"?

How to respond to these new challenges of the 21st century? This is the type of work the Black Alliance for Just Immigration deals with in its regular community and political work. There are no easy answers but we know that with the system as it is, that there will be no real progressive changes for anyone or any group unless we find ways to understand one another’s’ histories and issues and to blend our struggles together in a united front for social and economic justice and real community security.

Being that February was Black History, we look to creating our Black Future in the present. We stand on the shoulders of those migrants who came before us. Those ancestors of the post First and Second World War migrations who left all they had in the South to travel into unimagined experiences where the reception they often received was one of hostility and danger.

In their struggles, they were able to transform themselves and eventually the entire country as well. Their mass movement from the South to the North transformed the so-called “Negro Problem” from a Southern regional issue to a national issue. The fight against racism became more complex as we moved from rural areas to major metropolitan areas and into industrial sectors. Those who came before us met their challenges then and in this era of globalization, we can and must do the same.

Phil Hutchings is a veteran of the Southern Freedom Movement of the 1960's with the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee. Currently he is the Senior Organizer with the Black Alliance for Just Immigration based in Oakland, California.

March 2, 2011

The Black Community and So-Called "Secure Communities"

Posted by Aja Minor, BAJI Program Associate
March 2, 2011

So-called “Secure Communities”, “S-Comm” or “In-Secure Communities” as it has been dubbed is the most recent attempt of ICE-DHS to control the immigration “problem”. This anti-immigrant program allows Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and local law enforcement agencies to share all fingerprints processed at local jails. This mandated sharing occurs regardless of the type of crime and even if the charges are dropped. The inaccurately named program, “Secure Communities” was said to have been initiated to target “level one” criminals (kidnappers, drug dealers, murders), but in practice has been successful in targeting jay-walkers, victims of domestic violence, mentally challenged citizens, and those who do not look “American”.

Even if the program was better at targeting level one criminals, it does not warrant the support of the African American community. Black communities in the United States, understand how entrenched in racism, the country’s institutions are. Black people (historically and currently) know what its like to be exploited in the workplace, to fear the police, and to be targeted and racially profiled. Speak to an elder, or someone who has worked with SNCC or Black Panther Party for Self Defense and they will tell you immigrants are being treated the same way we were ( and still are in many places). Speak with someone who is working to stop the gang injunctions in Oakland, they will tell you the tactics are the same. Speak with someone working to bring down the prison industrial complex, and they will tell you the same corporations lobbying to build more prisons are lobbying to build more immigrant detention centers.

“S-Comm” is one of the scariest tactics used by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. This programs scope is so broad and impacts everyone. Black communities need to stand, in solidarity, with immigrant communities. Only by working together can we ensure that we all have access to citizenship, education, employment and housing!