African immigration to the United States

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African immigrants to the United States
Africanimmigrantsusa.jpg
Total population
  African : 3,183,104 (Subsaharan African : 2,847,199 + North African: 335.895) (2010 U.S. Census) [1]
Regions with significant populations
Washington, D.C., New York, Minneapolis, California, Dallas, Atlanta, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Houston
Languages
English (African English, American English), Arabic, Yoruba, Igbo, Lingala, French, Wolof, Swahili, Amharic, Somali, Tigrinya, Berber, Afrikaans, Hausa, Portuguese, Cape Verdean Crioulo, Spanish, others
Religion
Related ethnic groups
other African people

African immigration to the United States refers to immigrants to the United States who are or were nationals of Africa. The term African in the scope of this article refers to geographical or national origins rather than racial affiliation.

From the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 to 2007, an estimated total of 0.8 to 0.9 million Africans immigrated to the United States, accounting for roughly 3.3% of total immigration to the United States during this period.[2]

African immigrants in the United States come from almost all regions in Africa and do not constitute a homogeneous group. They include people from different national, linguistic, ethnic, racial, cultural and social backgrounds.[3]

As such, African immigrants are to be distinguished from African American people who were involuntarily brought to the United States by means of the historic Atlantic slave trade.

African presence in United States Immigration Legislation[edit]

Citizenship[edit]

In the 1870s the Naturalization Act was extended to allow "aliens, being free white persons and to aliens of African nativity and to persons of African descent" to acquire citizenship. Hence immigration from Africa was theoretically permitted while non-white immigration from Asia was not.

Quotas enacted between 1921-1924[edit]

Several laws enforcing national origins quotas on American immigration were enacted between 1921 and 1924 and were in effect until they were repealed in 1965. While these laws were aimed at restricting the immigration of Jews and Catholics from central and eastern Europe and immigration from Asia, they also impacted African immigrants. This legislation effectively excluded Africans from entering the country.

The Emergency Quota Act of 1921 restricted immigration from a given country to 3% of the number of people from that country living in the U.S. according to the census of 1910. The Immigration Act of 1924 (also known as the Johnson-Reed Act) reduced that to 2 %of the number of people from that country who were already living in the United States in 1890. Under this system, the quota for immigrants from Africa (excluding Egypt) totaled 1,100. (This number was increased to 1,400 under the Immigration act of 1952 or the McCarran-Walter Act.) [4] This is in contrast to a country like Germany whose limit was 51,227.[5]

Immigration Act of 1965[edit]

The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 (also known as the Hart-Cellar Act) repealed the national quotas and subsequently there was a substantial increase in the number of immigrants from "developing" countries, particularly in Africa and Asia. This act also provided a separate category for refugees. The Immigration Act of 1965 has also provided greater opportunity for family re-unification.

20th Century migration patterns[edit]

The influx of African immigrants began in latter part of the 20th century and is often referred to as the "fourth great migration." This trend began after decolonization, as many Africans came to the United States seeking an education, and has risen steadily over time. Originally, these immigrants came with the sole purpose of advancing themselves before returning to their respective countries. However, in recent years there has been an increase in the number of African immigrants interested in gaining permanent residence in the United States. This has led to a severe brain drain on the economies of African countries due to many highly skilled professionals leaving Africa to seek their economic fortunes in the United States and elsewhere.

Population[edit]

African Immigrants (U.S.) Ancestries in the 2000[6] - 2010[7] American Community Survey (from more than 1,000 people)
Ancestry 2000 2000 (% of US population) 2010 2010 (% of US population)
Flag of Nigeria.svg Nigerian/"Igbo" 162,938 (Nigerian:161,323; Igbo: 1,615)[6] negligible (no data) 264,550[7] negligible (no data)
Flag of Egypt.svg Egyptian 142,832[6] negligible (no data) 197,000[7] negligible (no data)
Flag of Cape Verde.svg Cape Verdean 77,103[6] negligible (no data) 95,003[7] negligible (no data)
Flag of Ethiopia.svg Ethiopian 68,001[6] negligible (no data) 202,715[7] negligible (no data)
Flag of Ghana.svg Ghanaian 49,944[6] negligible (no data) 91,322[7] negligible (no data)
Flag of South Africa.svg South African 44,991[6] negligible (no data) 57,491[7] negligible (no data)
Flag of Morocco.svg Moroccan 38,923[6] negligible (no data) 82,073[7] negligible (no data)
Flag of Somalia.svg Somali 36,313[6] negligible (no data) 120,102[7] negligible (no data)
Flag of Eritrea.svg Eritrean 18,917[6] negligible (no data) negligible (no data)
Flag of Kenya.svg Kenyan 17,336[6] negligible (no data) 51,749[7] negligible (no data)
Flag of Sudan.svg Sudanese 14,458[6] negligible (no data) 42,249[7] negligible (no data)
Flag of Sierra Leone.svg Sierra Leonean 12,410[6] negligible (no data) 16,929[7] negligible (no data)
Flag of Algeria.svg Algerian 8,752[6] negligible (no data) negligible (no data)
Flag of Cameroon.svg Cameroonian 8,099[6] negligible (no data) negligible (no data)
Flag of Senegal.svg Senegalese 6,124[6] negligible (no data) 11,369[7] negligible (no data)
Flag of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.svg Flag of the Republic of the Congo.svg Congolese More than 5,488[6] negligible (no data) negligible (no data)
Flag of Tunisia.svg Tunisian 4,735[6] negligible (no data) negligible (no data)
Flag of Uganda.svg Ugandan 4,707[6] negligible (no data) 12,549 negligible (no data)
Flag of Zimbabwe.svg Zimbabwean 4,521[6] negligible (no data) 7,323[7] negligible (no data)
Flag of Côte d'Ivoire.svg Ivorian 3,110[6] negligible (no data) negligible (no data)
Flag of The Gambia.svg Gambian 3,035[6] negligible (no data) negligible (no data)
Flag of Guinea.svg Guinea 3,016[6] negligible (no data) negligible (no data)
Flag of Libya.svg Libyan 2,979[6] negligible (no data) negligible (no data)
Flag of Tanzania.svg Tanzanian 2,921[6] negligible (no data) negligible (no data)
Flag of Mali.svg Malian 1,790[6] negligible (no data) negligible (no data)
Flag of Togo.svg Togolese 1,716[6] negligible (no data) negligible (no data)
Flag of Angola.svg Angolan 1,642[6] negligible (no data) negligible (no data)
Flag of Zambia.svg Zambian 1,500[6] negligible (no data) negligible (no data)
Flag of Rwanda.svg Rwandan 1,480[6] negligible (no data) negligible (no data)
"African" 1,183,316[6] negligible (no data) 1,676,413[7] negligible (no data)
"Western African" 6,810[6] negligible (no data) negligible (no data)
"North African/Berber" 4,544 ("North Africans": 3,217; "Berbers":1,327)[6] negligible (no data) negligible (no data)
TOTAL 940,000[citation needed] 0.2%[citation needed] NA NA

Factors contributing to migration[edit]

One major factor that contributes to migration from Africa to the United States is inadequate planning of labor supply in certain African countries. This has led to an oversupply of specialized workers and a system that is incapable of supporting them.[8][citation needed] Furthermore, education in African countries tends to be modeled after educational sysions and are not very accommodating of local realities. Subsequently, it has been relatively easy for African immigrants to leave and enter international labor markets. In addition, many Africans come to the United States for advanced training. However, this tends to lead a training that is too specialized to be adequately used in their respective home countries.[9][citation needed] Furthermore, since promotions in Africa are often based on seniority, young professionals eager to jumpstart their careers feel forced to migrate.[9][citation needed]

Demographics[edit]


Metros with largest African-born population (2000 Census)
Metropolitan Area African Population % of Total Metro Population
Washington, DC, MD-VA-WV 80,281 1.6
New York, NY 73, 851 0.8
Atlanta, GA 34,302 0.8
Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN-WI 27,592 0.9
Greater Los Angeles Area 25,829 0.3
Detroit, MI 24,231 0.6
Houston, TX 22,683 0.5
Chicago, IL 19,438 0.7
Dallas, TX 19,134 0.5
Boston, MA-NH 17,344 0.7

It is estimated that the current population of African immigrants to the United States is about 881,300.[10] Countries with the most immigrants to the U.S. are Nigeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, South Africa, Somalia, Eritrea, and Kenya. Seventy five percent (75%) of the African immigrants to the USA come from 12 of the 55 countries, namely Nigeria, Egypt, Ghana, Ethiopia, South Africa, Kenya, Liberia, Somalia, Morocco, Cape Verde, Sierra Leone and Sudan, which is based on the 2000 census data.[11]

Additionally, according to the U.S. Census, 55% of immigrants from Africa are male, while 45% are female. Age groups with the largest cohort of African-born immigrants are 25-34, 35-44, and 45-54 with 24.5%, 27.9%, and 15.0% respectively.[10]

Africans typically congregate in urban areas, moving to suburban areas over time. They are also one of the least likeliest groups to live in racially segregated areas.[12][13] The goals of Africans vary tremendously. While some look to create new lives in the U.S., some plan on using the resources and skills gained to go back and help their countries of origin. Either way, African communities contribute millions to the economies of Africa through remittances.

Immigrants from Africa typically settle in heavily urban areas upon arrival into the U.S. Areas such as Washington, D.C., New York, Houston, Columbus, Ohio, Atlanta and Minneapolis have heavy concentrations of African immigrant populations. Often there are clusters of nationalities within these cities. The longer African immigrants live in the United States, the more likely they are to live in suburban areas.

African immigrants like many other immigrant groups are likely to establish and find success in small businesses. Many Africans that have seen the social and economic stability that comes from ethnic enclaves such as Chinatowns have recently been establishing ethnic enclaves of their own at much higher rates to reap the benefits of such communities.[14] Such examples include Little Ethiopia in Los Angeles and Little Senegal in New York City.

Educational attainment[edit]

African immigrants to the U.S. are among the most educated groups in the United States. Some 48.9 percent of all African immigrants hold a college diploma. This is more than double the rate of native-born white Americans, and nearly four times the rate of native-born African Americans.[15] According to the 2000 Census, the rate of college diploma acquisition is highest among Egyptian Americans at 59.7 percent, followed closely by Nigerian Americans at 58.6 percent.[16][17]

In 1997, 19.4 percent of all adult African immigrants in the United States held a graduate degree, compared to 8.1 percent of adult white Americans and 3.8 percent of adult black Americans in the United States, respectively.[18] According to the 2000 Census, the percentage of Africans with a graduate degree is highest among Nigerian Americans at 28.3 percent, followed by Egyptian Americans at 23.8 percent.[16][17]

Of the African-born population in the United States age 25 and older, 87.9% reported having a high school degree or higher,[19] compared with 78.8% of Asian-born immigrants and 76.8% of European-born immigrants, respectively.[20] Africans from Kenya (90.8 percent), Nigeria (89.1 percent), Ghana (85.9 percent), Botswana (84.7 percent), and Malawi (83 percent) were the most likely to report having a high school degree or higher.

Those born in Cape Verde (44.8 percent) and Mauritania (60.8 percent) were the least likely to report having completed a high school education.[21]

Health[edit]

American immigrants from predominantly black nations in Africa and South America are generally healthier than black immigrants from predominantly white nations in Europe. A study conducted by Jen’nan Ghazal Read, a sociology professor at the UC Irvine and Michael O. Emerson, a sociology professor at Rice University, closely studied the health of more than 2,900 black immigrants from top regions of emigration: the West Indies, Africa, South America and Europe. Blacks born in Africa and South America have been shown to be healthier than American born Blacks.[22][23]

The study was published in the September issue of Social Forces and is the first to look at the health of black immigrants by their region of origin.[24]

Culture[edit]

African immigrants tend to retain their culture once in the United States. Instead of abandoning their various traditions, they find ways to reproduce and reinvent themselves.[25] Because of the extremely diverse nature of African ethnic groups, there is no single African immigrant identity. However, cultural bonds are cultivated through shared ethnic or national affiliations. Some organizations like the Ghanaian group Fantse-Kuo and the Sudanese Association organize by country, region, or ethnic group. Other not for profits like the Malawi Washington Association [2] organize by national identity, and are inclusive of all Malawians. Other groups present traditional culture from a pan-African perspective. Using traditional skills and knowledge, African-born entrepreneurs develop services for immigrants and the community at large. In the Washington area, events such as the annual Ethiopian soccer tournament, institutions such as the AME Church African Liberation Ministry, and "friends" and "sister cities" organizations bring together different communities. The extent to which African immigrants engage in these activities naturally varies according to the population.

Religion[edit]

The religious traditions of African immigrants tend to be pluralistic. In other words, they are seen not only as religious institutions, but in many cases also as civic centers. These organizations are also central to persevering ethnic identity among these communities.[26][citation needed] In addition, African immigrant religious communities are also central networks and provide services such as counseling, shelter, employment, financial assistance, health services, real estate tips, etc.

Christianity[edit]

African immigrants practice a diverse array of religions, including Christianity, Islam, and various traditional African religions. However, the largest African immigrant religious group in the United States is made up of Pentecostal/Charismatic Christians. This form of Christianity is a "primarily evangelical, born-again Pentecostal sect that emphasizes holiness, fervent prayer, charismatic revival, proximate salvation, speaking in tongues, baptism of the Holy Spirit, faith healing, visions, and divine revelations." [26]

The most popular church denominations that Africans join include: Brotherhood of the Cross and Star, Seventh Day Adventist Church; Celestial Church of Christ, Cherubim and Seraphim, Christ Apostolic Church, the Church of Pentecost, Deeper Life Bible Church, Mountain of Fire and Miracle Ministries(MFM), the Presbyterian Church of Ghana,the Redeemed Christian Church of God and [26][citation needed] Christ Embassy.

Continental African Churches[edit]

Many African communities have created their own churches in the United States modeled on continental African churches. One example is the Bethel Church in Silver Spring, MD that has a Pan-African congregation. It also includes service in English and French. Many African churches are Pan African, but some consist only of nationals from the country of origin. This allows for worship in the languages of the congregation.

Ethiopians and Eritreans also have their own churches wherever there is a significant Ethiopian or Eritrean population. Their churches are mainly Ethiopian or Eritrean Orthodox and a few Catholic churches.

Islam[edit]

The Muslim tradition of African immigrants is made up of diverse groups. It includes Sufis and Mourides from Senegal, as well as mainstream orders and schools from Western, Eastern, Horn and Northern Africa.

Visibility[edit]

Notable African academics in the U.S. include full tenured professors at the nation's top universities, including, at MIT, Elfatih A.B. Eltahir from Sudan [27] at Caltech, 1999 Nobel Prize in Chemistry Winner Ahmed Zewail from Egypt; at Yale, professor Lamin Sanneh [28] from Gambia; at Pennsylvania State University, professor Augustin Banyaga, from Rwanda; at Harvard, professors Jacob Olupona,[29] from Nigeria; Barack Obama Sr. from Kenya, Emmanuel K. Akyeampong from Ghana,[30] Biodun Jeyifo from Nigeria,[30] and John Mugane from Kenya;[30] and at Princeton, Adel Mahmoud [31] from Egypt, Wole Soboyejo [32] from Nigeria, Simon Gikandi [33] from Kenya, V. Kofi Agawu from Ghana,[34] and Kwame Anthony Appiah from Ghana.

In sports, Hakeem Olajuwon and Freddy Adu are prominent.

In the arts, Academy Award-winning actress Charlize Theron and Grammy Award-winning musician Dave Matthews, both from South Africa, and two-time Academy Award-nominated actor Djimon Hounsou and Grammy-winning musician Angelique Kidjo, both from Benin, are most notable.

Cultural influence[edit]

Television[edit]

Many local cable channels are now purchasing programming channels operated by the various African communities. For example, Channel Africa is now available in some TV networks in the US.

The Africa Channel is a showcase for outstanding travel, lifestyle and cultural series, specials and documentaries. These programs feature all people of African descent and their incredible stories, their daily lives, their music and art, and their successes, celebrations and challenges.

The Network’s premiere on September 1, 2005, marked a milestone in U.S. television history. For the first time, American audiences were able to experience the successes, celebrations and challenges of people living throughout Africa and the Diaspora, all via a general entertainment network. The Network is broadcast in the United States through national distribution deals with the largest cable MSOs in the country, Comcast, Time Warner, and Cox, as well as other cable systems. The Africa Channel is also available in Jamaica, the Bahamas, Trinidad & Tobago, St. Lucia, Barbados, Bermuda, Grenada and other islands in the Caribbean. Partners include former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young and his company, GoodWorks International; NBA stars Dikembe Mutombo and Theo Ratliff; Williams Group Holdings; and former U.S. Senator Donald Stewart.

TV news services such as the Nigerian Television Authority, South African Broadcasting Channel and Ethiopian Television Programming are also available in some areas.

Cinema[edit]

Nigerian Nollywood films and Ghanaian films can now be rented or purchased from Nigerian and Ghanaian stores and like in Africa, are very popular among Africans in the United States from many different countries.

Restaurants[edit]

Immigrants from Africa have also opened up a number of restaurants in urban areas. The DC and NYC Metro areas host many eateries belonging to the Nigerian, Senegalese, Liberian, Ethiopian, Kenyan, South African and other communities.

Notable African immigrants[edit]

The following is a list of notable African nationals who have immigrated to and now at least partially reside in the United States.

Academia and science[edit]

TV & Film[edit]

Sports[edit]

Business[edit]

  • Kase Lukman Lawal, Nigerian, Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, CAMAC Holdings
  • Roelof Botha, South African, former Chief Financial Officer of PayPal
  • Elon Musk, South African, co-founder of PayPal, SpaceX and Tesla Motors, CEO and CTO of SpaceX, CEO and Product Architect of Tesla Motors and Chairman of SolarCity.
  • Noah Samara, Ethiopia, CEO of Worldspace

Fashion[edit]

Journalism and literature[edit]

Music[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Total ancestry categories tallied for people with one or more ancestry categories reported 2010 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 30 November 2012. 
  2. ^ Yoku Shaw-Taylor, Steven A. Tuch, The other African Americans: contemporary African and Caribbean immigrants in the United States, Rowman & Littlefield, 2007, ISBN 978-0-7425-4088-0.
  3. ^ David E. Kyoso, Immigrants in the United States, (Godfrey Mwakikagile: 2010), p.110.
  4. ^ [Bashi, V. (2004, July 4). Globalizing Anti-Blackness: Transnationalzing Western Immigration law, policy and practice. Retrieved May 1, 2010, from Ethnic and Racial Studies: http://www.arts.yorku.ca/soci/goldring/4390/readings/pdf/bashi_globalized_anti-blackness.pdf]
  5. ^ George Mason University. (1998). Who was Shut Out?: Immigration Quotas, 1925-1927. Retrieved May 1, 2010, from History Matters: http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/5078/
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag "Table 1. First, Second, and Total Responses to the Ancestry Question by Detailed Ancestry Code: 2000". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 2010-12-02. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "Total ancestry categories tallied for people with one or more ancestry categories reported 2010 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 30 November 2012. 
  8. ^ Apraku, K. K. (1991). African Emigres in the United States: A Missing Link in Africa's Social and Economic Development. New York: Praeger.
  9. ^ a b (Apraku, 1991)
  10. ^ a b US Census Bureau - People Born in Africa
  11. ^ Otiso, Kefa (06/11/2007). "African Immigrants a Successful Bunch, But Not Overall". MShale news. Retrieved 1 August 2011. 
  12. ^ Segregation Stats
  13. ^ [1]
  14. ^ "African immigrants hope for a Chicago community of their own", Chicago Tribune, 14 January 2013, retrieved 14 July 2013 
  15. ^ African Immigrants in the United States are the Nation's Most Highly Educated Group. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, No. 26 (Winter, 1999-2000), pp. 60-61 doi:10.2307/2999156
  16. ^ a b http://www.census.gov/population/cen2000/stp-159/STP-159-nigeria.pdf
  17. ^ a b http://www.census.gov/population/cen2000/stp-159/STP-159-egypt.pdf
  18. ^ African Immigrants in the United States have the highest rate of education. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, No. 26 (Winter, 1999-2000), pp. 60-61 doi:10.2307/2999156
  19. ^ "Demographics and Statistics of Immigrants : Asian-Nation :: Asian American History, Demographics, & Issues". Asian-Nation. Retrieved 2010-11-08. 
  20. ^ Characteristics of the African Born in the United States. Migration Policy Institute. January, 2006
  21. ^ Dixon, D. (2006). Characteristics of the African Born in the United States. Migration Policy Institute. January, 2006
  22. ^ Black immigrants from Africa arrive healthier than those from Europe: From MedicineWorld.Org
  23. ^ Today@UCI: Press Releases:
  24. ^ Project MUSE
  25. ^ Olupona, J. K., & Gemignani, R. (Eds.). (2007). African Immigrant Religion in America. New York: New York University Press.
  26. ^ a b c (Olupona & Gemignani, 2007)
  27. ^ http://web.mit.edu/eltahir/www2/eltahir_cv.htm
  28. ^ http://www.yale.edu/history/faculty/sanneh_l.html
  29. ^ http://www.hds.harvard.edu/people/faculty/jacob-k-olupona
  30. ^ a b c http://aaas.fas.harvard.edu/directory/faculty
  31. ^ http://www.princeton.edu/molfac/mahmoud/
  32. ^ http://www.princeton.edu/mae/people/faculty/soboyejo/
  33. ^ http://www.princeton.edu/complit/people/display_person.xml?netid=sgikandi&display=Associated%20Faculty
  34. ^ http://www.princeton.edu/music/people/display_person.xml?netid=kagawu&display=All
  35. ^ "Kwabena Boahen". Stanford.edu. Retrieved 2010-11-08. 
  36. ^ "Faculty - Department of Bioengineering - Stanford University School of Medicine and School of Engineering". Bioengineering.stanford.edu. 2008-06-20. Retrieved 2010-11-08. 
  37. ^ http://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S32/91/44I78/index.xml?section=topstories
  38. ^ Sheridan, Mary Beth, "Leader Named at Mosque; Falls Church Site Selects Activist," Washington Post, June 11, 2005, accessed November 7, 2009
  39. ^ "A CONVERSATION WITH/NAWAL NOUR; A Life Devoted to Stopping The Suffering of Mutilation", The New York Times, Claudia Dreifus, July 11, 2000
  40. ^ http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2012-06-04/features/bs-ae-miss-usa-meriwether-20120604_1_beauty-pageant-miss-maryland-usa-pageant-experience
  41. ^ http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/reliable-source/post/nana-meriwether-sidwell-friends-grad-is-first-runner-up-at-miss-usa/2012/06/04/gJQAaLPSDV_blog.html

External links[edit]