by Amaha Kassa, Executive Director, African Communities Together
Ask immigrants why we came to America, and you will hear millions of different stories. But our many stories usually boil down to just a few shared reasons.
Safety, freedom, opportunity, and family.
When immigrants get to America, we often find realizing our dreams harder than we imagined. But immigrants persevere, and we keep fighting for the dreams that inspired us to cross borders and oceans and continents.
What immigrants don’t always fully appreciate is that many native-born Americans have had to fight just as hard and struggle just as much for safety, freedom, opportunity, and family. Throughout American history, no group has had a greater struggle than African-Americans.
Unfortunately, the fight for African-American equality is far from over, as the mass protests over the killing of Michael Brown by police in Ferguson, Missouri have demonstrated.
Ferguson exploded because many African-Americans are outraged by police and politicians who treat black lives—including the lives of black immigrants like Abner Louima and Amadou Diallo—as if they don’t matter. African-Americans are protesting because a staggering number have lost their freedom to the prison system. Many Black people are tired of feeling like second-class Americans, and disillusioned that the election of a black president didn’t do enough to offer real hope and opportunity for a better life. And they are afraid that their own children could be the next ones lying in the street.
All of us, black or not, immigrant or native-born, should share those feelings. Our immigrant communities must do more to link the immigrant civil rights struggle with the African-American civil rights struggle, to educate our members and hold our politicians accountable. There are millions of reasons why we must do so.
But all those reasons boil down to a shared dream. Whether we call it the Immigrant Dream, or Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Dream, or the American Dream.
A dream of freedom, safety, opportunity, and family.
Originally posted on the New York Immigration Coalition blog.