March 19, 2007


Black Immigrants, An Invisible 'Model Minority' (Clarence Page, 3/19/07, Real Clear Politics)

In a side-by-side comparison of 2000 census data by sociologist John R. Logan at the Mumford Center, State University of New York at Albany, black immigrants from Africa average the highest educational attainment of any population group in the country, including whites and Asians.

For example, 43.8 percent of African immigrants had achieved a college degree, compared to 42.5 of Asian Americans, 28.9 percent for immigrants from Europe, Russia and Canada, and 23.1 percent of the U.S. population as a whole.

That defies the usual stereotypes of Asian Americans as the only "model minority." Yet the traditional American narrative has rendered the high academic achievements of black immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean invisible, as if it were a taboo topic.

Thomas Sowell has argued for decades that the success rate of African, Haitian, Jamaican, etc. immigrants puts paid to the Left's claim that it is lingering racism that holds blacks back. The interesting question that he raises is whether the fact that blacks never had the normal first wave immigrant experience but were brought here in chains and kept in first slavery and then segregation instead has had such a deleterious effect on the culture of their community that it is largely responsible even to this day.

The uncomfortable question for conservatives, who are initially happy to see racism knocked about the head, is whether this doesn't provide an argument in favor of some sort of reparations.

Here's an idea though: why not a reparations bill that just creates O'Neill accounts for every newborn black kid for a generation? Then when folks complain about such a race-based program you agree to expand it to every new-born regardless of race.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 19, 2007 12:00 AM

"African-American" is someone whose parents immigrated to this country at some point in the last century. "Black" (or to use the archaic and vaguely offensive to modern ears term "Negro") is someone whose ancestry in this country goes back to the 18th cnetury, before the end of the slave trade. We need to differentiate between the two, and not let oppotunists like Obama obscure those differences.

The problem with reparations is that it will attract all the wrong or undeserving. How about going with a variation of the "one-drop" rule, but this time as a good thing? A person's "reparations" would be proportional to one's "black" ancestry. I see no reason to reward someone whose got a great-great-grandma who was black, and everyone else on the tree was white. In effect, you wouldn't be rewarding today's "African-Americans', but instead those freed by the 13th Amendment, through their heirs and descendents.

(As for your "O'Neill account ... for a generation", instead just make recipients inelegible if a parent was a recipient. (I'm sure the courts would strike that down, somehow, so everyone could get their deserved goodies.) )

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at March 19, 2007 10:14 AM

Raoul, I like your idea of differentiating immigrants from Africa who come here of their own volition from those brought here forcefully. However African immigrants can be very different from each other. North African Arabs, Sub-Saharan Blacks and South African Whites should all be referred to African-Americans. It's notable that this hard working population doesn't have much trouble assimilating and starting down the path to freedom and prosperity. This also applies to immigrants from Haiti who took the long way home from Africa.

The descendants of slaves who wish to refer to themselves as African-Americans must give up their victim status and start acting like Americans. The rest of the descendants of slaves can continue to live in custodial custody denying themselves and their children the advantages of living the U.S. However, that is their choice. As for reparations, it's a bad idea the implementation of which would be a nightmare. Japanese reparations were easy. We knew who they were and the apology and restoration was to the people involved or their direct descendants.

Posted by: erp at March 19, 2007 10:42 AM

No. Never. Not one penny.

We should all be disgusted and ashamed by reading competing schemes of Rassenwissenschaft bandied about. There is no right way to pay someone for something they never did, and no right way to grant titles and patents of nobility.

Can't we see how evil and destructive
"reparations" talk is? What is does is to set up and impose a cargo cult mentality on millions of individuals of African and mixed African descent. No need to work hard, no need to study, no need to develop orderly, disciplined ways of thinking and acting, because someday the cargo will arrive.

Moreover, every day which goes by and every immigrant who arrives attenuates what claim there might have been. Even now, the arguments for internal Danegeld are becoming more and more strained. Notice how the "diversity" rationale for so-called "affirmative action" crashes in on itself. We need "diversity," the line goes, without regard to individual qualities. But wait. That doesn't apply to immigrants, only "real" African-Americans, not Americans from Africa.

We might go on and on, as commented above, with Nurenburg-like tests for how many Jewish grandmothers one might be allowed to have before making the net, but the distaste is too strong.

Posted by: Lou Gots at March 19, 2007 11:51 AM

Who cares who's "entitled" to it?--the point is to get them for everyone eventually.

Posted by: oj at March 19, 2007 1:03 PM

Rectification of the original wrong of forcibly taking Blacks from Africa can take several forms. Liquidated compensatory damages seems the least appropriate.

Much better for all parties concerned would be the approach recommended by Abraham Lincoln in his first emancipation proclamation. Basically a voluntary repatriation of Blacks to Africa. If they choose not to take that opportunity then secondarily we could treat them like any other American in accordance with the 14th Amendment.

Posted by: h-man at March 19, 2007 1:28 PM

First pay them the damages they're due. But you guys aren't going to get rid of blacks any more than browns.

Posted by: oj at March 19, 2007 2:33 PM


Quite. The people we did it to should have been recompensed. Our failure to do so just means the debt has accrued interest.

Posted by: oj at March 19, 2007 2:38 PM

I continue to suspect the unthinkable: that the grotesque institution of slavery left both cultural and genetic scars. The former may be persistent, but the latter (per se) are immutable. And as a descendent of New England abolitionists and impoverished Canuck/Metis, I feel absolutely no personal guilt about that.

That said, if we had given every descendent of slavery a million bucks in 1965 and called it a fair and final settlement, it would have cost us less than all of the failed government programs created to address their various dysfunctions. Wouldn't have worked, though. Still won't. No finality down that path.

If we ever do head thataway, the Injun in me wants his fair share.

And have I mentioned that a mere 4-5% of the African slaves brought to the New World came to what is now the United States? Let Brazil pay the first reparations.

Posted by: ghostcat at March 19, 2007 4:33 PM