FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

African Immigrants: Entering a Racial Wealth Divide

Historically and contemporarily, the topic of immigration ignites many of the passions revolving around the central socio-economic issues of the time. The immigration of African people to the United States deeply intersects with ongoing racial economic inequality and how the inequality of the past is being replicated intothe future. Currently, the United States has an immigrant population of about 43.4 million, with African immigrants making up roughly 3.9 percent of all immigrants in 2009.

These 1.7 million mostly Black immigrants come to this country in pursuit of the “American Dream” of economic opportunity and prosperity yet find that the racial economic inequality that has prevented most African Americans from ever fully participating in the “American Dream” also is a barrier to their economic advancement.

The number of Black immigrants living in the US has risen 13-fold from 1970 to 2010, increasing their share of the Black population from 1% to 10%. African immigrants make up about 40% of the Black immigrant population, with most Black immigrants coming from the West Indies.

Like most immigrant groups, African immigrants create their own social enclave here in the United States, but this enclave exists within spaces defined by native social hierarchies and communities. African immigrants are disproportionately found in big American cities and usually carve out their own geographical concentration in an area that has historically been populated by African Americans.

In the 2009 US Census, nearly 80% of African immigrants reported their race as “Black,” which is a major change from 1980 when 42% of African immigrants reported their race as White —likely reflecting a stronger presence of North African or Arab immigrants.

African immigrants are most often some of the most highly educated from their native countries and have higher educational attainment levels than most native-born Americans. Over 40% of African immigrants have completed four or more years of college.

For such a highly educated and predominately English-speaking community, one would expect economic results far stronger than have been documented thus far. In 2007, African immigrants’ median income, based on 2007 data, was a mere $44,000 compared to a national median income of $50,740. To put this in perspective, according to the American Community Survey, from 2010-2014 only 20% of White Americans had a bachelor’s degree but had a median salary of almost $60,000.

The 2009 American Community Survey also shows, that a greater share of African immigrants lived in a household with an annual income below the federal poverty line at 18.5% than the native- born Americans (13.6%) and immigrants overall at 17.3% despite their higher educational levels.

Much more work must be done to examine in depth how African immigrants fit into the American racial wealth divide, but for now it is important to note that even African’s immigrating from another continent do not escape the long history and contemporary reality of Black Americans having a lower socio-economic status.

Coauthored with Natalie Gerber, Racial Wealth Divide Initiative Intern.

More articles by:

Dedrick Asante-Muhammad is host of the Race and Wealth Podcast and Director of the Racial Wealth Divide Initiative at the Corporation for Economic Development.

Weekend Edition
January 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Star Wars Revisited: One More Nightmare From Trump
John Davis
“Weather Terrorism:” a National Emergency
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Sometimes an Establishment Hack is Just What You Need
Joshua Frank
Montana Public Schools Block Pro-LGBTQ Websites
Louisa Willcox
Sky Bears, Earth Bears: Finding and Losing True North
Robert Fisk
Bernie Sanders, Israel and the Middle East
Robert Fantina
Pompeo, the U.S. and Iran
David Rosen
The Biden Band-Aid: Will Democrats Contain the Insurgency?
Nick Pemberton
Human Trafficking Should Be Illegal
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
Did Donald Get The Memo? Trump’s VA Secretary Denounces ‘Veteran as Victim’ Stereotyping
Andrew Levine
The Tulsi Gabbard Factor
John W. Whitehead
The Danger Within: Border Patrol is Turning America into a Constitution-Free Zone
Dana E. Abizaid
Kafka’s Grave: a Pilgrimage in Prague
Rebecca Lee
Punishment Through Humiliation: Justice For Sexual Assault Survivors
Dahr Jamail
A Planet in Crisis: The Heat’s On Us
John Feffer
Trump Punts on Syria: The Forever War is Far From Over
Dave Lindorff
Shut Down the War Machine!
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: Student Voices of the Los Angeles Education Revolt  
Mark Ashwill
The Metamorphosis of International Students Into Honorary US Nationalists: a View from Viet Nam
Ramzy Baroud
The Moral Travesty of Israel Seeking Arab, Iranian Money for its Alleged Nakba
Ron Jacobs
Allen Ginsberg Takes a Trip
Jake Johnston
Haiti by the Numbers
Binoy Kampmark
No-Confidence Survivor: Theresa May and Brexit
Victor Grossman
Red Flowers for Rosa and Karl
Cesar Chelala
President Donald Trump’s “Magical Realism”
Christopher Brauchli
An Education in Fraud
Paul Bentley
The Death Penalty for Canada’s Foreign Policy?
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Not to Love NATO
Louis Proyect
Breaking the Left’s Gay Taboo
Kani Xulam
A Saudi Teen and Freedom’s Shining Moment
Ralph Nader
Bar Barr or Regret this Dictatorial Attorney General
Jessicah Pierre
A Dream Deferred: MLK’s Dream of Economic Justice is Far From Reality
Edward J. Martin
Glossip v. Gross, the Eighth Amendment and the Torture Court of the United States
Chuck Collins
Shutdown Expands the Ranks of the “Underwater Nation”
Paul Edwards
War Whores
Peter Crowley
Outsourcing Still Affects Us: This and AI Worker Displacement Need Not be Inevitable
Alycee Lane
Trump’s Federal Government Shutdown and Unpaid Dishwashers
Martha Rosenberg
New Questions About Ritual Slaughter as Belgium Bans the Practice
Nicky Reid
Panarchy as Full Spectrum Intersectionality
Jill Richardson
Hollywood’s Fat Shaming is Getting Old
Nyla Ali Khan
A Woman’s Wide Sphere of Influence Within Folklore and Social Practices
Richard Klin
Dial Israel: Amos Oz, 1939-2018
David Rovics
Of Triggers and Bullets
David Yearsley
Bass on Top: the Genius of Paul Chambers
Elliot Sperber
Eddie Spaghetti’s Alphabet
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail