What if Africa was geographically closer to the United States than Mexico? In light of the debates over immigration that have made this hot summer even more heated, this is a hypothetical question worth asking.
It is easy to understand why California and other Southwestern states have a steadily growing population of Latino Americans. Mexico is connected to the southwestern part of the country and despite the presence of border patrol, millions cross over every year to find a better life.
This month, the California Department of Finance released a study that estimated that Latinos would be the ethnic majority in the state by 2050. Estimates are that the Latino population will grow from 32 percent in the 2000 census to 52 percent.
In contrast, the state’s Black population will decrease from seven to five percent in the same time frame. Walking around the city, you can tell this is evident as once-Black areas of the city now have a heavy Latino influence.
So back to the question at hand: What if Africa was close enough to the United States? How would it affect immigration issues, state population and more importantly the course of history?
Dr. Maulana Karenga, professor of Black Studies at California State University-Long Beach and chair of the organization US, stated that he feels that American would exploit Africa, if it were less powerful, just as they have exploited Latin America for its benefit.
“The United States would do the same thing it has done to Mexico...invade it, take control of its economy...[and] force it into the role of consumer and source of cheap, vulnerable and exploited labor,” said Dr. Karenga.
Dr. Kwaku Person-Lynn, a noted scholar and professor of Afrikan American Studies at Loyola Marymount University, shared his views from the perspective that Africa would become a powerful nation without European intervention.
“If Africa was progressing the way that it was, it would have reached an Industrial Revolution which was denied b/c of the [slave] trade,” Dr. Kwaku said.
He added that would have given Black people a greater sense of identity because they were closer to their place of origin, something that Latinos have.
Another key element would be if Blacks would better relate to each other and have a greater sense of community. Among Latinos there is a growing power base that stems from their collective power.
Dr. Kwaku believes that Black people would be more cooperative and more would embrace the African value of collective responsibility where everyone looked out for each other and worked together for the common good
“We would also be collectively self-confident about ourselves because we would know our history and our culture,” he added, saying that there would be no inferiority/superiority complex.
One has to wonder that because so many of us are leaving the city for other areas, would things be any different in California? If Africa were closer, Blacks would probably immigrate to the East Coast primarily before spreading out.
Would there be as much furor over the influx of Blacks into the country? If you look at it from Dr. Karenga’s perspective speculating if Africa were a less powerful country, then perhaps there would be a similar debate over the use of cheap labor.
If you also look at it from Dr. Kwaku’s perspective, Africa could have become a developing nation and would have birthed a self-confident people with a rich culture to hold on to in a foreign land.
Both perspectives are certainly valid and as the immigration situation continues to grow, one can only wonder how things might be different for Black people if Africa was close enough