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The African-American dilemma

In January I chanced upon a polarizing discussion around the United States immigration policy on Twitter Spaces. The session was co-hosted by a certain Tariq…

In January I chanced upon a polarizing discussion around the United States immigration policy on Twitter Spaces. The session was co-hosted by a certain Tariq Nasheed, a Black American author who identified as “Foundational Black American” (FBA), a fancy name for American Descendants of Slavery (ADOS). Mr. Nasheed demonized black immigrants in America in the most sensationally cruel tone imaginable, asking why they couldn’t stay back and build their places of origin. Those who attempted to counter his logic, and the “Afrophobia” he dispensed, were instantly kicked off the forum. The scary echo chamber had over twenty thousand listeners and lasted for almost 24 hours.  

Mr. Nasheed and his cheerleaders could not process how Africa’s economic and political disadvantages were designed by the very European imperial agenda that led to the creation of America, and that this pattern of migration he antagonized couldn’t have transpired if the West had not interfered with the continent’s development trajectory and stolen Africa’s resources, from cheap labour to cheap raw materials, to power the industrial revolution.  

Mr. Nasheed’s arguments were specularly flawed for failing to underline the impact of how the West destroyed Africa’s centuries-old political, legal, and economic structures, with the conquerors’ languages, theology, laws, and political philosophy imposed on nations that had existed without them and were unconcerned about their existence for millennia. It’s also noteworthy that, beyond the slave economy, America too is a lasting colonial start-up of European imperial powers—Britain, France, Spain, and the Netherlands—whose mercantilist onslaughts, from masterminding genocides to invading defenseless kingdoms, kept Western industries running and economies afloat.  

Modern America and Africa were, thus, created by the same merchants, even though the same merchants stayed back in the former to take charge as they did in apartheid South Africa where they gave up power only after an endless series of massacres. Mr. Nasheed’s arguments against the West-bound pattern of migration would’ve only been tenable if the European heirs of today’s America and their allies in Europe no longer interfere with the domestic politics of the countries that fail to adhere to the international behaviours dictated from the West.   

Western imperial powers, some of which have waned and are now at the mercy of America, their successful colonial project, never dismantled the racial hierarchy that inspired their conquests between the slave and colonial eras. Either from having the headquarters of the United Nations, where third-world countries aren’t allowed to sit as permanent members of the UN Security Council, to having the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) breathing down the necks of countries that refuse to adhere to the global economic and political behaviours preferred and imposed by the West, Washington, D.C. has never hidden its fangs from rebellious countries.  

Mr. Nasheed must’ve kept track of the US-led military-industrial complex and what it means to hurt the egos of America and their European allies. Even if he fails to see American history before it became a superpower after the Second World War, he’s not unaware of the trail of deaths and destabilizations from US-led interventions in third-world countries, from funding rebels in Afghanistan and destroying Iraq over “credible intelligence” that turned out to be false, down through exerting its power as a permanent member of the UNSC to shield Israel, to backing countless coups and regime changes all over institutionally frail countries.  

The world, especially Africa, as it is today is more complex than Mr. Nasheed’s imagination. It’s telling that he settles for xenophobia instead of acknowledging the history that got his ancestors taken against their will from Africa and that modern Africans are also victims of the villains of his economic story, having been trapped in the identity crises and economical disadvantages invented by, and tele-guided from, the West.  

The very American immigration policy he described as a setback for the FBAs is, ironically, referred to as “brain drain” in the places of origin of these immigrants. It’s a glorified version of the system that had his ancestors transported to America, only that this time the chains aren’t metals. This was why I asked him, during our discussion on that forum, if he was capable of taking the job of a friend of mine who works at Microsoft, to which he said no. The point was to tell him that the educated black immigrants aren’t there as a charity project of the United States but to help run the specialized departments of the modern plantation.  

When COVID-19 began to bring Western countries to their knees in mid-2020, the images of American cities on our TV screens, newspapers, and in our digital spaces were a haunting cry for help. But the intervention they desired, medical personnel to run America’s overwhelmed hospitals and medical facilities, was something Mr. Nasheed and his ilk couldn’t render, for he confessed to being a high school dropout during our Twitter discussion. Since the help couldn’t be readily given at the peak of the pandemic because COVID-19 was also wrecking the usual resource bases of the West and the year was not 1769, when the imperial overlords could sail to Africa to acquire the human resources they desire, and neither was it 1914 or 1939 when Africans had to fight the war that had nothing to do with them, dying for the cause and egos of the people who now wonder why the same Africans come to their countries,  the US government sought help abroad, luring the people Mr. Nasheed and friends doesn’t want to see in America. 

The US Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Services took to Twitter on March 27, 2020 as the world began to shut down to beg: “We encourage medical professionals seeking work in the U.S. on a work or exchange visitor visa (H or J)… to contact the nearest U.S. Embassy/Consulate for a visa appointment.” Such unethical poaching, which has kept the traffic of West-bound migration heavy, was the worst the U.S. could do in a world overwhelmed by global pandemic, even if to save itself. It’s scary that Mr. Nasheed, a black man and descendant of enslaved Africans, needs this history lesson.

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