The University of Iowa

In the news: Black immigrants killed by police are a testament to the impossibility of un-Blackening one's self in America

February 22nd, 2021

D.K. Nnuro, The Press-Citizen

In a 2016 New York Times opinion piece titled “I’m Ghanaian-American. Am I Black?”, Yaa Gyasi, the author of "Homegoing" and, more recently, "Transcendent Kingdom," writes, “Black immigrant parents may tell their children to shrug off their encounters with racism, but what good does that do the child who must leave his house every day and be Black in America?”

In the wake of the killing of George Floyd, this and other questions were part of an overdue racial reckoning that spread through Black immigrant communities across the country. Fed up with the older generation’s longstanding practice of overlooking racial issues, many young Black immigrants or children of immigrants rallied community members to take a stand. In a 34-minute video posted on YouTube, for example, Nigerian-American lifestyle blogger Nifesimi Akingbe spoke of a blunt reality: “When these cops see us or when some of these racist people see us, they see a Black person … they don’t care if you were born in Alabama, if you were born in Nigeria, in Ghana, in Sierra Leone. They see one color.”