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Demosthenes's avatar

Does the fact that African immigrants are a highly successful demographic prove that systemic racism doesn't exist?

Asked by Demosthenes (13000points) January 13th, 2021

This is an argument I come across often so I’m curious to hear your explanations for why it is not true (if you regard it not to be). Immigrants from Africa are apparently a quite successful demographic in the United States, far more so than African Americans. I’ve heard this used as evidence that the reason African Americans are disproportionately poor is cultural and not the result of racism.

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5 Answers

SavoirFaire's avatar

(1) Systematic racism doesn’t mean that members of certain groups are entirely prevented from succeeding. It means that they have a harder time succeeding than similarly situated members of other groups.

(2) Various researchers have found that the nation of origin matters. The biggest factor is the availability of education, and immigrants from sub-Saharan African countries tend to be better educated than both immigrants from European countries and native-born Americans.

(3) When we compare black Americans who immigrated to the US to black Americans born in the US, those with similar educational outcomes tend to have similar levels of achievement. So the relative success of African immigrants comes, at least in part, from the selectivity of the immigration system.

(4) And since education is such a big factor here, it is worth noting that racism affects educational outcomes. To the extent that African immigrants may not have experienced the same racial stressors during their formative years (depending on their country of origin, of course), they may have an advantage (though that advantage may disappear once they immigrate).

African immigrants may be successful as a group, but that is at least in part because those whose applications for immigration are approved are already more primed for success than similarly situated immigrants from other countries. When the data says that members of certain groups have to be twice as good to achieve half as much (or even just better than average to achieve average results), we haven’t found evidence against the existence of systemic racism. We have found evidence for it.

Cupcake's avatar

Africans in America being more “successful” or having “better outcomes” than Black Americans is often used to cite racism, as there is no biological or genetic basis for the difference. There is no “black gene” that predisposes people to success or a lack of success, if you will.

The difference between the groups is that Black Americans have lived with the social, political and interpersonal effects of slavery for generations. Many recognize microaggressions and other forms of quiet racism that impact non-whites typically on a daily basis. The theory of weathering posits that enduring these small acts of hostility on an ongoing basis impacts biological stress reactions and epigenetics… that such experiences literally weather an individual, or get “under their skin”. This can cause things like high blood pressure, heart disease, prematurity, etc.

After a generation in America, outcomes are the same between Africans and Black Americans. This can be attributed to weathering.

kritiper's avatar

Oh, it exists. With everybody, to some extent. (Generally speaking.)

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

Does a specious justification of racism disprove the existence of racism?

Conservative deep thoughts, ladies and gentlemen.

Blackberry's avatar

Uhm…..don’t those immigrants have to adhere to a strict set of guidelines to even be allowed in the country, as well as the college? While some wealthy americans, that are typically white….ruin the foundation of the educational system by bribing to get their kids in, having someone else take their tests for them….while those same kids admit on their youtube channels they don’t even want to attend college except for the party experience?

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