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African andamp; American

African andamp; American: West Africans in Post-Civil Rights America

Marilyn Halter
Violet Showers Johnson
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 352
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  • Book Info
    African andamp; American
    Book Description:

    African and Americantells the story of the much overlooked experience of first and second generation West African immigrants and refugees in the United States during the last forty years. Interrogating the complex role of post-colonialism in the recent history of black America, Marilyn Halter and Violet Showers Johnson highlight the intricate patterns of emigrant work and family adaptation, the evolving global ties with Africa and Europe, and the translocal connections among the West African enclaves in the United States.Drawing on a rich variety of sources, including original interviews, personal narratives, cultural and historical analysis, and documentary and demographic evidence,African and Americanexplores issues of cultural identity formation and socioeconomic incorporation among this new West African diaspora. Bringing the experiences of those of recent African ancestry from the periphery to the center of current debates in the fields of immigration, ethnic, and African American studies, Halter and Johnson examine the impact this community has had on the changing meaning of African Americanness and address the provocative question of whether West African immigrants are, indeed, becoming the newest African Americans.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-8925-4
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Introduction: The Newest African Americans?
    (pp. 1-34)

    In her memoir,My Heart Will Cross This Ocean,Kadiatou Diallo, mother of Amadou Diallo, the unarmed immigrant from Guinea who in 1999 was killed by four New York City police officers, discusses her response to how her son was described in the media:

    None of this hurt me as much asunarmed West African street vendor.This label stole his story. To call him West African revealed nothing. He had lived in three different West African countries, in five different towns or cities in Africa, with subtleties that made each one distinct. He lived in two different cities in...

  5. 1 West Africa and West Africans: Imagined Communities in Africa and the Diaspora
    (pp. 35-74)

    West Africa has laid its hand on the immigrants, refugees, naturalized Americans, and undocumented aliens of this study. Even their children, who migrated at an early age or were born in the United States, are not wholly free from it. As the premigration milieu, it was responsible for much of their formative experiences and continues to influence settlement and adaptation patterns in the United States. While European official languages, Western educational systems, religious denominations, and ethnic affiliations underscore significant differences among the nations, there has always been a West African regionalism that binds the inhabitants. In December 1944, the newly...

  6. 2 Occupational Detour: New Paths to Making a Living
    (pp. 75-114)

    Three and a half centuries before Tajudeen Ajadi’s observation, when men, women, and children from West Africa were forcibly moved across the Atlantic to what later became the United States, they came not in planes but in the holds of slave vessels, where it was absolutely impossible, actually insane, to entertain dreams of success. Yet as streams of international labor migration, both the old and postcolonial diasporas share a common characteristic in the centrality of work. West African slaves were often calculatingly selected for their expertise, based on projections of what they would contribute to the plantation economy. A good...

  7. 3 Capturing a Niche: The West African Enclave Economy
    (pp. 115-140)

    As has been the case for many new immigrant groups before them, rather than joining the secondary labor force, just like the aspiring cab drivers who have become owners of medallions, some West Africans have gone into business for themselves as their strategy for making it in America. Some may have been entrepreneurs in their home countries and arrived with enough capital to be able to readily open a similar type of enterprise shortly after immigrating, while others have had to work first in other jobs before acquiring the necessary funds and the wherewithal to become self-employed. With the additional...

  8. 4 Transnational Ties/Translocal Connections: Traversing Nations, Cities, and Cultures
    (pp. 141-178)

    Migration stories have always been about multiple locations. From the Puritans who carved out new communities influenced by their experiences in Europe to Italian men who went back and forth as “birds of passage” to more contemporary newcomers from the Dominican Republic who all but split their time in half between the two countries, American immigration history has realistically been the history of numerous societies. By the late 1980s, scholars had settled on the term “transnationalism” as a crucial analytical category to describe and explain the immigrant experience. It was no coincidence that such conceptualizations were formulated in this period...

  9. 5 More Than Black: Resistance and Rapprochement
    (pp. 179-210)

    West Africans, like other black immigrants, have adapted and assimilated in three main domains—within the reconfigured African ethnicities, within the milieu of African Americans, and within mainstream America. Unlike their predecessors of the period of the initial making of the Atlantic World, the experiences of the newcomers have not been regulated by the blatant oppression of the slave trade and slavery. Indeed, in contrast, they are the beneficiaries of the dividends of the civil rights movement since the post-1965 wave came to a country that was in the process of remarkable change, largely due to the modern struggle for...

  10. 6 Young, Gifted, and West African: Transnational Migrants Growing Up in America
    (pp. 211-254)

    Ghanaian American Kofi Apraku, who came to the United States in his teens, recalled his first impressions:

    I had been told that the United States is the ultimate land of opportunity, that the limit to one’s achievement is set only by one’s own imagination, and that a determined person can literally reach for the stars. . . . Didn’t America literally reach for the stars when it landed a man on the moon? Sure, everything is possible in this country.

    For the next ten years, I was determined to take America at its word—it was the land of opportunity...

  11. Conclusion: Further into the Twenty-First Century
    (pp. 255-258)

    We opened this book by posing the pivotal question of whether post–civil rights era immigrants from continental Africa are, indeed, becoming the newest African Americans. While Alpha Jalloh would likely agree that they are, others have been more skeptical. Consider linguistics and race relations scholar John McWhorter’s thoughts on this conundrum:

    Modern America is home now to millions of immigrants who were born in Africa. Their cultures and identities are split between Africa and the United States. They have last names like Onwughalu and Senkofa. They speak languages like Wolof, Twi, Yoruba and Hausa, and speak English with an...

  12. NOTES
    (pp. 259-294)
    (pp. 295-322)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 323-334)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 335-335)