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Going Beyond Romantic Notions of Black Unity

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Photo of author Nunu Kidane

I write to share something important. We need to start discussing the community I come from and work with are largely first generation immigrants from different African countries. African immigrants are estimated at 3% of the overall immigrant population in the US. While Black, we are not included in traditional African American institutions or communities. And as immigrants, we remain outside mobilization of the large immigrants rights movements.

Dear Movement Community,

Greetings in love and solidarity and thanks for the sisters who took the initiative to open this important space for exchange.

I write to share something important. We need to start discussing the community I come from and work with are largely first generation immigrants from different African countries. African immigrants are estimated at 3% of the overall immigrant population in the US. While Black, we are not included in traditional African American institutions or communities. And as immigrants, we remain outside mobilization of the large immigrants rights movements.

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In Oakland, we host regular dialogues between African immigrants and African Americans that have uncovered deeply held trauma and denial on both sides.  They go beyond “individual issues” about race and identity and have enormous significance to building and strengthening the Black left movement.

There are no models or templates for holding “Black on Black dialogues about race.”  It is assumed in this country that if you are Black, you get the race question by virtue of your DNA.  Well, many in my community don’t.  We are unlike the broader global Black diaspora because this is the first time many find themselves outside their countries of birth.  Their primary base of identity is strongly rooted in national and ethnic base.  So these exchanges of African Diaspora Dialogue are in essence “Black and transnational” and touch on issues of colonial division and the trans-Atlantic slave trade. “

There are several blogs, you tube videos and commentary on the relations between Africans and African Americans; usually with flare for conflict and drama.  None are held consistently or go beyond the individual ‘hurt feeling’ to uncover what is at the heart of the differences that are dividing people and more importantly, how do we go past them to build real unity among Blacks, immigrants and native in the Black left.   “Black” in this country no longer means what it used to, we are diversifying and our movement reach has to speak to that changing reality.

After many trials and efforts, Priority Africa Network has combined these dialogue efforts into a website that brings some of the lessons and wisdom of the African Diaspora Dialogue (http://www.africandiasporadialogue.org/).  It is work in progress and comments on improving them are always welcome.    Let us go beyond romantic notions of “black unity” and confront what divide us – it is the only solid foundation on which to build a movement.

In Struggle,

Nunu Kidane


Dear Folks:  Thank you for sending your letters. We’re excited to share another letter to build conversation.  We encourage everyone to keep writing. This Black channel is ours to create a dialogue that inspires and challenges us. Click this link: Letter to the Movement from a member of the Black Organizing Community. Thank you to all those letter writers out there, keep them coming! We’ll share others in the weeks to follow.
In struggle,
Denise & Ingrid ([email protected])