Why Blacks Should Support Immigration Reform

For African Americans, it's an opportunity to create political coalitions with other people of color.

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Facing a 13.7 percent unemployment rate, most African Americans falsely believe that the absence of foreigners who "take jobs" will benefit them in the current labor market, perhaps unaware that the black unemployment rate since 1970 has always been twice that of their white counterparts. Very often African Americans have adopted the attitudes of early-19th-century whites who wanted to send Africans back to Africa. But instead of worrying about immigrants -- both black and otherwise -- taking their jobs, African Americans should see the benefit of how a broad coalition of immigrants -- Caribbean, African and Hispanic --can strengthen their voting power.

This disunity portends a loss to black political representation across America. Now the Congressional Black Caucus is boasting its largest membership since its formation in 1971. However, many representatives sent to Congress by black-majority districts are beginning to see a demographic shift and might not return to Congress after the next two presidential election cycles.

Furthermore, many African Americans have failed to realize that the current bipartisan immigration reform agenda is seemingly about a move away from blackness. Hispanics -- who are viewed as "not quite white" by those who police the boundaries of whiteness -- are perhaps collaterals in this ideological warfare. That many African Americans are not interested in "[blacks] here and there," as one African-American historian puts it, is disturbing and unfortunate. This moment in history -- in the wake of the tragic death of Trayvon Martin and its aftermath -- is undeniably one of the lowest points for the black community since the civil rights movement. During that era, it was necessary to find commonality with people of different races and ethnicities who powered that social movement.

Perhaps it's time again to expand the notion of blackness and embrace the hallmark of the civil rights movement: solidarity.

Ann-Marie Adams, Ph.D., is the founder of the Hartford Guardian. Follow her on Twitter.

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