The “‘Model Black Immigrant’ vs. Black American” Stereotype

Despite the fact that non-American born Black people (who may not go by “Black” until they actually live in the States, if at all; complex varying cultural, colonial and imperialistic histories impact…


"When people think that I am Jamaican, they treat me with a different respect at times. They make jokes about “stupid” Black Americans while consuming literally everything that Black Americans create. They make insults about Black American people or erase the impact of that peculiar institution on Black American life today. And though I experienced some bullying from Black American children growing up (which was admittedly very rough and painful) because they didn’t like how my parents spoke or the food I ate at times, I also had long-term friendships with Black American girls. In fact, none of my closest friends now in adulthood are Jamaican women (though of course I love them too). They’re Black American women. We still share so much because we are all Black women though, wiling to learn and celebrate our differences and navigate the spaces of our multiple similarities.

"At the same time, when people think that I am American, other Black immigrants (and most certainly Whites) have insulted me. Called me “stupid” or “lazy.” Some have even suggested that Black Americans do not work hard. They completely ignore the intricacies and unique experiences of Black Americans here, especially the impact of the legacy of slavery on Black women here and how some colleges will gladly open their arms to foreign-born Black students while allowing their White students to publish “research” on the inferiority of Black Americans. Worse, some really think to be Black in America is to be Mitt Romney. In a past essay, Black In The 99%, I laid out why these myths of the “great” socioeconomic experience of Black people in America are myths."