A new documentary, The Neo-African-Americans, explores Black immigrant identities and the changing social dynamics in the United States. Reports by the U.S. Census Bureau captures these changes by revealing that there are more than three million foreign-born Blacks in America. With growing Black immigrant populations; from Somalis in Minnesota, to Dominicans in New York, to Haitians in Miami, to Nigerians in Texas; the very term "African-American" has become contentious.
"We need to recognize and embrace the reality that though there are many ties that bind us, there is no universal Black experience or expression,” says the film’s maker, Kobina Aidoo. Through interviews with social scientists, activists, and members of immigrant groups, The Neo-African-Americans captures the major issues emerging from Black immigration: ethnic labeling, education, culture, Black-on-Black tensions, and affirmative action, among others.
Aidoo sees these issues play out in a variety of ways. "Take education: We hear a lot about the racial achievement gap, but when you isolate African immigrants, for instance, you see some surprising numbers.
Aidoo, a graduate of Harvard Kennedy School of Government, considers himself a public policy analyst with a camera. He was struck by the depth of emotions, rawness of passions and complexity of answers he uncovered: One interviewee responded, "I'm more Haitian-American than African-American but more American than Haitian."
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