I’ll never forget my sister’s experience in undergrad with a Nigerian classmate that she says had an attitude with her since she stepped foot inside their medical ethics class. My sister would come home saying the classmate often threw labels at her and her friend like “ghetto” and “entitled” and my sister could never quite understand the aggression that came from someone she had barely said five words to outside of a classroom discussion.
It’s no secret that the relationship between African-Americans and some first-generation African immigrants can be complex, and these complexities very often show up in the education sector that lead to conversations about culture, priorities, access and equal opportunity.
African American magazine, Vibe, recently highlighted a study that focused on African immigrants and their varied levels of education: “According to a report by the New American Economy, a Washington-based research advocacy group, the U.S. immigrant population from sub-Saharan Africa (49 countries with a total population of more than 1.1 billion) grew from 723,000 to more than 1.7 million between 2010 and 2015. In turn, those apart of that demographic has continued to grow in the nation’s education system. The New American Economy found a total of 16% had a master’s degree, medical degree, law degree or a doctorate, compared with 11% of the U.S.-born population.”
According to Jeanne Batalova, a senior policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute think tank in Washington, many refugees are recipients of the “diversity visa program” which hopes to boost immigration from underrepresented nations, the population of African immigrants seem to be very diverse in their “educational, economic, and English proficiency profile”.
In other words, it appears African immigrants are comparatively held to a higher standard than other immigrants and respectively, U.S. citizens.
More than highlight the different levels of education held between African-Americans and African immigrants, the study refutes what many believe to be opinions held by U.S. President Donald Trump that immigrants contribute little to the American economy.
In fact, Andrew Lim, associate director of research at New American Economy, believes African immigrants are making America look good: “Overwhelmingly the evidence shows that (African immigrants) make a significant, positive economic contribution to the U.S. economy.”
If anything, the study is proof that immigrants are significant contributors to the U.S. economy and have little to no negative effect on overall wages or employment levels for U.S.-born workers.