Had It Not Been For

We were the first to be killed in the Revolutionary War. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part2/2p24.html  We are not Barack nor even Michelle. We are not the newly minted from Nigeria or Cuba who float to our shores hyperventilating, disdain in their first full breath, lying in wait for a turn to suckle the host we born through clichéd yet literal tears, sweat, blood.

At my niece’s graduation from Yale a few years ago, I began to notice most of her Black classmates were first generation – an observation I made aloud to proud Jamaican parents from Atlanta. “Oh, but we’re all the same,” the woman, almost too quickly, interjected. I’d also thought that true but unbeknownst to us both perhaps, something was awry. http://http://www.thewire.com/politics/2014/04/why-the-all-ivy-league-story-stirs-up-tensions-between-african-immigrants-and-black-americans/359978/

Initially I blamed us. Music, hip-hop, the NBA and Basketball Wives had us off course; but that didn’t excuse dwindling social services, http://www.thenation.com/article/158321/reagans-real-legacy# particularly in job-training and mental health, disintegrating public schools, and the rising unemployment of even our most accomplished. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/01/us/01race.html?_r=0

The protagonist in the Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie novel “Americanah”, an Ivy League educated blogger, quips African-Americans were still struggling under Jim Crow while Nigerians were thriving. The comparison is odd in that Nigeria did not emerge from British colonialism until 1967, and patently, it is to the United States these dream seekers come.

About a half a million of us lived freely prior to the Civil War. “http://www.theroot.com/articles/history/2013/07/free_blacks_precivil_war_where_they_lived.html We formed colleges and universities that educated doctors and lawyers; 106 institutions in total, most built before 1900.

Our grandfathers led the post-war expansion west of the Mississippi. http://www.buffalosoldiers-amwest.org/history.htm Others, like my ancestors in the South, became business, land and home owners less than one generation out of slavery.

Men, women and children died, leading to passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 so that Tiger Mom and white women can now blithely claim just “Lean In.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/khanh-ho/what-amy-chua-didnt-tell-_b_4789488.html

We voted more than anyone in the 2008 and 2012 Presidential elections. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2013/04/29/black-turnout-was-higher-than-white-turnout-in-2012-and-2008/

The town car Madonna and Angelina Jolie took to the airport for the flights to Namibia and Ethiopia respectively, went through either Inglewood or Queens.

I am not anti-immigration but anti-ignorance. The evolution is not being televised. Kiss the ring nonetheless.

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