2016 Kinship Assembly – Black Love Beyond Borders

Kinship Assembly_Social Media Badge

Join the Black Immigration Network for the 2016 Kinship Assembly to be held in Los Angeles, CA April 8-10 2016. Visit www.BlackImmigration.net/Kinship for more information.

The Black Immigration Network (BIN) is a Kinship of organizations and individuals connecting, training and building towards policy and cultural shifts for a racial justice and migrant rights agenda. The Kinship Assembly, known for its rich content and camaraderie, brings together leaders from organizations and programs that serve, organize in, advocate for, and/or provide research for African, Afro-Caribbean, Afro-Latino and African American communities in the United States and that are run by members of these communities. The 2016 Assembly will include compelling plenary sessions, enriching workshops on a variety of topics, relationship building opportunities and an empowering, uplifting and strengthening space.


Linking Black Struggles on International Migrants Day

marcha ofranehThe Black Immigration Network continues to engage in the US to raise awareness of the plight of migrants and refugees globally and advocate to uphold the human rights of all. As the United Nations reports, displacement is at an all time high, with a record 59.5 million people forcibly displaced by conflict. Today one in every 122 humans is now either a refugee, internally displaced, or seeking asylum. Add to this number the millions forced to leave their home countries to seek work because global capitalism has decimated their economies. The numbers are staggering and the testimonies are heartbreaking. In 1990, the United Nations a resolution on International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. A decade later, the UN declared December 18th as the Day of International Migrants.

 

It was asked then and remains a question now, what does this day mean to migrants and refugees of African descent?

 

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Convention, and the struggle to recognize the human rights of all migrants globally continues. We do not celebrate International Migrants’ Day, as our communities face a serious crisis, but we do commemorate it. The 2015  BIN Kinship Action Call will bring to focus the challenges of Black communities across the globe fighting displacement, human rights violations, economic exploitation, xenophobia and attacks on birth right citizenship. In this call, moderated by Opal Tometi, Executive Director of Black Alliance for Just Immigration and Co-Founder of Black Lives Matter and internationally recognized human rights activist Nunu Kidane, Founder of Priority Africa Network, we will hear reports from courageous leaders organizing to defend the human dignity and rights in these communities:

 

  • South Africa – Sibusiso Innocent Zikode, Founder and Chair, Abahlali baseMjondolo (South African shack dwellers’ movement)
  • Dominican Republic/Haiti – Altagracia Jean-Joseph, law student and human rights activist
  • Honduras – Carla Garcia, International Coordinator, Fraternal Black Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH)
  • Germany -Bino Byansi Byakuleka, refugee from Uganda, African Refugee Union and author of We Are Born Free 
  • United States – Carl Lipscombe, Policy and Legal Manager, Black Alliance for Just Immigration
  • Moderators – Opal Tometi, Executive Director, Black Alliance for Just Immigration and Nunu Kidane, Founder, Priority Africa Network

Register here to join this dynamic call.

 

 

A call and movement focused on the state of Black immigrants is of great significance. In the past three years, there have been more deaths of African migrants crossing the Mediterranean  Sea. In South Africa, fellow African migrants were brutally attacked in riots involving jobs, land and housing. In the Dominican Republic, people of Haitian origin are forced out from the only home they know. In Israel, Australia and Italy, refugees of African descent are treated with brutality and distain, in overt racism and total disregard for human rights. Migration has become a most contested issue globally. In the US, it is the most frequently raised topic in the lead up to the presidential elections. In France, the right wing the National Front, an openly anti-immigrant party scored a major victory of late. Immigrants of African descent are particularly viewed as threats in Europe with proposed policy measures for mass deportations to forcibly return them to their countries of origin without due screening.

 

The present state of fear, xenophobia and Islamophobia gripping nations over the rise of immigrants leaves little room for level headed dialogue on root causes of increased migration. The continued expansion of corporate powers and profit at the expense of human lives, the plundering of our environment and dispassion of land from farmers, increasing conflict and wealth gap are all factors that contribute to increased mobility.

 

As the United States is a leading force in creating these deplorable conditions, the Black Immigration Network is committed to strengthening allyship in the United States and building relationships globally throughout the Diaspora in order to grow a strong movement to defend the human rights of all. This International Migrants Day is an opportunity to do just that.


BIN Members Making News!

BIN Steering Committee member Francesca Menes of Florida Immigrant Coalition featured on Facing South Florida on CBS Miami.

BIN Steering Committee member Francesca Menes of Florida Immigrant Coalition featured on Facing South Florida on CBS Miami.

The Black Immigration Network is a national network of over 40 organizations as well as individuals leading and serving black immigrant and African American communities who are focused on supporting fair and just immigration, as well as economic and social policies that benefit these communities and all communities of color in order to create a more just and equitable society. These leaders are making news with their leadership, groundbreaking advocacy and raising issues of importance to Black communities. Check out this week’s BAJI Blog, the organization which hosts and coordinates BIN, highlighting some of the recent coverage.

 

 


“This Was My Friend”- Communities Respond to LAPD Murder of “Brother Africa”

BLACK IMMIGRANT AND AFRICAN AMERICAN LEADERS MOURN THE LOSS OF “BROTHER AFRICA”

africas wingsOn Sunday March 1,  Charley “Brother Africa” Leundeu Keunang, a 43 year old Cameroonian  immigrant living on Skid Row was killed by Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officers. Members of Black Immigration Network in Los Angeles are actively involved in organizing the community to seek justice in his case. Read the Black Alliance for Just Immigration statement regarding this horrible tragedy.  (http://www.blackalliance.org/brotherafrica/) Follow #CantKillAfrica on social media for updates on ongoing actions.

 

Brother Africa’s death brings into focus the convergence of state violence in the lives of Black people, and particularly the implications for Black immigrants. Ota Omoruyi, a Nigerian immigrant and friend of Keunang told Complex: “Why did this happen? It’s a mystery to me. I didn’t know [his life] was going to end like this—he didn’t know it was going to end like this,” says Ota Omoruyi, a Skid Row resident from Nigeria. He’s known Africa for about six months, and calls him “Cameroon,” Africa’s home country. He wrote this nickname on a piece of cardboard that’s now the centerpiece of the memorial that stands where his friend once lived.

 

“I’ve never known him to be violent, I’ve never known him to be confrontational,” he says. “I’ve known him to be intellectual, and to talk with purpose. I cannot say what went on in his mind when the police came. But I know he was depressed for about a week, thinking about sending money home, to his people, and about getting out of homelessness.” Full Article Here

 


BAJI Presents at Facing Race 2014

Facing Race Breakout Session: Organizing Across Cultures for Immigration Reformfacing_race_logo_black

 

 

Facing Race is the largest multiracial, inter-generational gathering for organizers, educators, creatives and other leaders. The 2014 conference begins Thursday November 13 and Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI) will be anchoring a workshop on building multiracial alliances in migrant rights organizing. Tia Oso,  Coordinator for the Black Immigration Network will present.

 

Organizing Across Cultures for Immigration Reform
Friday, 11/14
11:00 am to 12:30 pm

 
The south remains a bastion of white supremacist, capitalist and patriarchal domination. Its legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, conservative organizing, and deep investment in the Mass Incarceration system has been extended by the recent wave of anti-immigrant policy-making. On the front lines of this onslaught are Black and Brown communities – Immigrant and US born. These families and communities are being torn apart by Mass Incarceration, Immigrant Detention, and Deportation.

Join this workshop to find out how these communities – including families themselves – are fighting back, while simultaneously developing strategies to help advance our cause even farther.

 

 

Follow BIN and BAJI on Twitter for live tweets from the conference  .


Poetry Inspired by the BIN Kinship Assembly – “Revolution” by Cindy Acona

The 2014 BIN Kinship Assembly featured a special dialogue and performances by three Afro-latino poets, Anthony Polanco, Robert Oriyamaat,and Cindy Acona, discussing the importance of arts and cultural expression in movement building, and the experiences of movement artists. One of the poets, Cindy Acona, was inspired by the work of BIN and her experience at the Kinship Assembly to create this piece and share it during their performance.

 

 

Cindy Acona

Poet Cindy Acona – aka Black Angel

Revolution – by Cindy Acona

 

Revolution

has been commercialized so much

That our youth have no clue

what it is about

 

Ignorant in the ways of conflict resolution

thinking war is the only conclusion

furthering political affiliations

 

Welcome

to the American broken system

Where unity is discouraged

Financial segregation as subtle

As a hurricane in season

 

So my question

How do we really go about bringing change?

How do we surpass the obstacles put in place

In order to watch our downfall?

 

How do we become that village again

That raises our children?

Conferences like B.I.N.

Needs to be held globally more often

but why isn’t it?

 

Its simple, their response

There’s no profit in solutions

It seems as though if I have no monetary backing

My plights go unheard

My fight unseen

Snuffed out by media black outs

 

As police states drown out cries

silencing our leaders

by any means necessary

dumb down children in order to perpetuate

imprisoned slave system

keep the revolving door of escapism rotating

rehabilitation never actualize

for privatized stock options

if my name isn’t Chad, Chet, Amanda or Tiffany

I’m profiled to be arrested

No matter how much of good Citizen I may seem to be

my skin has become the determination factor

of my freedom

brown paper bag theory in full effect

 

We have unfamiliar pale faces

Invading once occupied spaces of the un-free

Migration of a culture

Escaping gentrified purity

Now seeming too equitable,

A mockery of suffering

As ethnicity becomes a commodity

 

Something to admire, acquire

& become

but with less flavor, for a more sensitive gluten free tongue

Long vowels replace native tongues

Habitats become unaffordable

Once inhabitants, now paying tourists

for their former homes

Pushed out economically

To make way for the financially stable

Upkeep is easier with them out of the way

Things look prettier now that the poor are gone

epitome of gentrification

Audacity made fun of by new comers

“If they really wanted this place, then why keep it so rundown?”

As though the 99% can provide for the one

 

This beautiful melting pot has become

A place where financial segregation

Has feigned it’s way into forced integration

 

So how do we move forward on a chess board

Filled with pawns protecting the hierarchy?

Answer:

If we don’t feed the predators,

eventually they become the prey

 

Cindy Peralta better known as Black Angel with parents of Dominican decent, this Queens resident Afro-Latina has been hard at work writing poetry since the age of 13 and never looked back. While in H.S. her poems were published in the weekly paper as part of the Literary Arts section. Now at the age of 32, She has performed at the famous Nuyorican Poets Cafe, Bar 13, Culture Shock at the Sutra Lounge, Latino Cultural Festival at Flushing Hall of Science as well as several colleges including LaGuardia Community College to which she’s an Alum. Also, as a motivational poet, she has performed at prison facilities including Eastern Correctional Facility and Riker’s Island. Contact Cindy at www.facebook.com/blackangelthepoet  or Blackangelthepoet@gmail.com. 


Press Release: National “Kinship Assembly” to Unite Black Immigrants and African-Americans

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Press Contacts:

Tia Oso, Tia@blackalliance.org, 917-310-3785

Opal Tometi, Opal@blackalliance.org

National “Kinship Assembly” to Unite Black Immigrants and African-Americans

Issues including immigration reform, voting rights and economic justice to be discussed

[Miami, FL – May 9, 2014] From May 23rd- 25th, 2014, an estimated 150 community leaders from across the country will gather in Miami to discuss racial justice and immigrant rights. Hosted by the Black Immigration Network (BIN), a national “kinship” network comprised of black immigrants and African Americans, leaders and activists will convene at the Little Haiti Cultural Center for three days of strategizing, networking and building a movement to unite Black communities for racial justice and migrant rights.

 

Immigration is a hotly contested issue and media often focus on Mexican immigrants and conflict along the U.S.-Mexico border. There are countless untold are the stories of Black immigrants who bear the brunt of disproportionately high rates of deportation, unemployment, and economic exploitation, many living life in the shadows due to undocumented status. Over 3 million Black immigrants from countries in the Caribbean, Africa, Europe and Canada live in the United States, comprising 10% of the U.S. foreign-born population. BIN is dedicated to connecting these communities for action and raising their collective voices for social, political and economic justice.

 

With the theme of Rising Together, this biennial Kinship Assembly will feature the use of African Diaspora Dialogues, a small-group exercise designed to build transformative change and mutual understanding between African-Americans and African immigrants on issues of race, culture and identity.  It will also include strategy sessions on Haitian family reunification, immigration reform and mass incarceration/mass detention.  The conference coincides with the culmination of Miami’s month-long celebration of Haitian Heritage Month, and will be co-hosted by local grassroots organizations including Florida Immigrant Coalition, Dream Defenders, Power U, Haitian Women of Miami, Florida New Majority, and Caribbean Lawyers Association.

 

“Black immigrants and African Americans have the highest unemployment, highest incarceration, lowest wages and a many more challenges facing us. This is our attempt to rectify that because our communities deserve justice and dignity, and we should have a fighting chance”, said Opal Tometi, Co-Director of Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI), the coordinating entity for BIN.

 

In March 2013, BIN successfully led the charge to raise the voice of Black immigrants by ratifying its 10 Principles for Just and Inclusive Immigration Reform, petitioning the US Senate, and mobilizing hundreds of African Americans and Black immigrants for a national rally at the US Capitol. BIN has also developed a strategic partnership with the Congressional Black Caucus, organizing a panel for it’s Annual Legislative Conference last June on “Pan African Immigration Reform.”

 

“It is important in this heightened moment for Afro Immigrants and African Americans to continue to traverse the bridges that were built during past struggles like the Civil Rights fights, the various independence movements and the dismantling of the racist apartheid system,” said Donald Anthonyson, organizer with New York-based Families for Freedom.

 

Francesca Menes, Policy and Advocacy Coordinator for Florida Immigrant Coalition agrees. “Our communities need the additional support,” she said. “Florida has one of the largest Caribbean populations in the U.S. and it’s important to give community members an opportunity to hear some policy analysis, participate in peer-led workshops and voice their issues.”

 

The goal of the assembly and BIN overall is to develop a network that nurtures relationships among Black-led organizations, builds collective strategies for justice, and provides support to make their work more effective.

 

Trina Jackson of Boston-based Network for Immigrants and African Americans in Solidarity shared, “In a day and age where African Americans are pitted against immigrants, we are a group that says this must stop – we embrace and love one another, and know that our commitment to justice is a commitment to all of us!”

 

Registration information for the conference can be found online at http://blackimmigration.net

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BLACK VOICES CALL FOR NEW APPROACHES TO IMMIGRATION REFORM

BLACK VOICES CALL FOR NEW APPROACHES TO IMMIGRATION REFORM 

Article by by Leah Wise and Gerald Lenoir

 

It’s A New Day

Neoliberal[1] Globalization has changed the political and economic landscape –domestically and internationally—and is forcing us to think and work in new ways.   Now that the bankruptcy of unfettered capitalism has been exposed and people in every class are getting a taste of the insecurity and lost wealth, if not hunger and homelessness, experienced by the droves of people of color, extreme poor, workers and others who have been the primary casualties of the corporate driven neoliberal agenda over the past 2½ decades, there is a broader base of people wanting reform.   Not enough, however, are addressing the system of policies and institutions that are the cause of our miseries and are still locked into piecemeal strategies.  Immigration is an urgent issue precisely because 200 million people across the globe have been propelled into migration by these policies, by the wars, collapsed economies, destabilization, ruined environments, and genocide they have engendered.  Only 2% have come to the US, yet their presence is transforming local communities and base organizing, in rural and urban areas alike.  Rather than create a Marshall plan to help these survivors [at home and abroad] cope, nations, particularly in the West, have criminalized many of them.

These new realities challenge our social justice movements to:

  • Think macro and micro [global/national/state/local] and long and short-term simultaneously, taking into account specific on-the-ground circumstances and histories.
  • Learn to appreciate, respect and “negotiate vast diversities and tremendous complexities that inclusivity requires.
  • Focus on causes –structural impediments, policies & practices –and overlapping impacts, rather than isolated disparities, which implies intersectional analysis, or locating targets at the intersections of the overlaps, to maximize impact and building the broadest base of support.
  • Grapple with racism and wedge issues, in recognition of their historic role in defeating every social movement, blatantly, as in the 1898 Wilmington (NC) coup d’etat and massacre, or more subtly, as in the more recent use of demeaning racially coded language and images (Willie Horton, welfare queens) in political campaigns or “immigrants are taking jobs nobody wants” to thwart union campaigns.
  • Forge a new model of work that marries the shaping and content of policy reforms with base building practice that can galvanize communities across the nation into a powerful movement.  To us this means building an inclusive peoples movement of scale, encompassing the widespread and various sectors that have been casualties of neoliberal policies, AND crafting and linking policy reforms in ways that benefit everyone.
  • Walk our talk.  We must model the society we say we are trying to build –be the justice we want to live and exemplify accountability—if we are to have any authenticity and credibility to offer real change.  To the Immigrant Rights movement, for example, black immigrants—Africans, Afro Latin@s, Caribbean—have been largely invisible and excluded, both in participation, leadership and issue priorities.  Racism in the immigrant rights movement is its Achilles’ heel.  If the Movement is to forge and lead a disparate and diverse base, then it must include the voices, perspectives and leadership of the marginalized, including the young, African descent immigrants and native born, and poor women.
  • Recognize national policies must address regional specificity if they are to have national impact.  National policy cannot rely on state implementation when “states rights”—which governs political will—and inadequate infrastructure eclipses impact in the South and other localities across the nation.  The failure to address the structural conditions in the South have rendered the region the nation’s sinkhole, which has dragged down wages, jobs, conditions, safety net, the nation towards the South’s level of underdevelopment

How we respond as a progressive movement, particularly in these times of economic crisis, has everything to do with whether we can maximize a progressive movement that can win real change that will bring us economic prosperity, full political participation, social justice, accountable democracy and peace –for everyone, or whether we become more fractured and weak and lose the opportunity that the Obama victory has promised us for the next 7½ years.  People of color, particularly younger generations, are the strategic center –and mass base—of progressive change in America.  We have power collectively, but none of us have power by ourselves.  All for one and one for all is not a new idea, but the era of globalization and internet technology has definitely given it new meaning and new possibility.

Race is at the Center of Immigrant Justice and Reform

Race, racism, and the struggle for racial justice are central to the immigrant experience and character of the movement for three main reasons:

1)    Globalization policies have been an engine of racism, negatively impacting peoples of color disproportionately

2)    Different understandings of race, identity, and racism, ill equip most immigrants to enter the racialized context of US society and politics, especially in the South.  Most immigrants lack the savvy and organizing skill needed to address systemic racism, particularly in ways that enable them to build upon the successes of the struggles for civil and human rights and Native American sovereignty and to link with black folk.  Many come to the US with negative stereotypes about African Americans and think Dr. M.L. King, Jr. corrected discrimination once and for all.  We are seen as weak and powerless, in short, as unworthy allies.  We are not regarded as the revolutionary change-makers who, along with our allies, were the creative force behind social transformation in this country.  They don’t know our sacrifices and struggles succeeded in dismantling US apartheid and igniting a successful anti-war movement along with other social struggles that extended US democracy, civil rights and economic opportunity to many more than us – to women, immigrants, workers, environmentalists, LGBT, the poor, and the differently abled, —most of whom are white.   They also don’t appreciate that our victories were incomplete and have been unraveled by administrations over the past 25 years.  These views prevail even now that we have a black president! .

3)    US Immigration policies, structures and the way they are implemented (e.g. racial profiling) themselves are discriminatory and exclusionary, fraught with preferences and bias according to race, class, gender and sexual orientation.  They perpetuate white supremacy and racial disparities.  They allow employers, lenders, landlords, politicians, bureaucrats, and the organized Right to exploit, abuse, and manipulate native and foreign born people of color, driving a wedge that poses the most urgent threat to progressive politics in America. Thus, just immigration cannot be accomplished without addressing systemic policies as well as individual, institutional and structural racism.

Today, the struggle for immigrant rights is at the cutting edge of the struggles for racial and worker justice and to mounting a campaign to scrap neoliberal policies across the board.  This recognition alone should be a uniting factor of labor, civil rights and immigrant rights movements. Addressing black exclusion from the formal economy, the super exploitation of immigrants, and the structural impediments that have perpetuated race/wealth/gender disparities in the U.S., most notably in the South, is at the heart of linking just immigration policy to sustainable economic recovery, one that installs a new set of just economic relations and can win broad support.

It will take native born blacks and immigrants joining together to shape policies for mutual benefit, which means recognizing how our struggles are intertwined and our successes are dependent upon one another.

Towards this end the African American community must come to grips with the new realities of race in the U.S.: the black-white paradigm has given way to a much more complex picture, marked not only with rising Latin@s and Asian populations that have brought people of color majorities to several states, but with ethnic constructs, such as Latin@, that defy race as we understand it.  Thus, the political landscape for organizing is new to everyone, and to have impact, we will have to learn together how to organize and collaborate effectively, in mutual solidarity and equality.

A Human Rights Approach to Immigration

A holistic and comprehensive approach to just immigration policy must:

  • Encompass values and principles that uphold the dignity, rights, justice and prosperity (not just opportunity) for everyone;
  • Be linked to economic recovery policy that allows for the participation, decision-making, and benefit to everyone, particularly lifting those on the bottom;
  • Address all who are affected, including black (African-descent) immigrants and poor women.

Because migration is a global phenomenon, just immigration cannot be achieved by domestic policy alone.   The global nature of migration and suggests that fair and just policies must address:

1)      The development needs in countries and communities from which people were compelled to depart.

2)    Respect for and protection of the human rights of  migrants in the countries where they arrive

3)    The infrastructure and development needs of communities to which migrants come.

The right of people to stay in their own countries and to be productive, prosperous and safe is a fundamental part of the UN Human Rights Convention, which also requires that we challenge racial and religious profiling, immigrant raids, detentions and deportations without due process; and the militarization of the US border.  The Far Right has championed these actions in the name of national security, but they have undermined the fundamental rights and political space of us all.

 

The Need for A Southern Strategy

Interestingly, immigration from the Global South and from other regions of the US has made the South an even more strategic region for winning a progressive agenda in America.  Overwhelmingly black and white historically, this still largely rural region has and is undergoing stark transformation to one of vast diversity where over 100 languages are spoken.  This new reality has brought both promise and serious challenges.  The South now has the fastest growing Latino population in the nation AND the majority of African Americans (over 55%), many of whom reside in majority black districts.  As was evidenced in Obama’s election, the bastion of the Conservative Right is now undergoing political shifts, due in large part to the increase in majority minority counties and voting patterns of young white voters.   Yet, the legacy of slavery, which established an economy of pollution, exploitation by outsiders, and exclusion, primarily through institutionalized perpetuation of white supremacy, lingers. Barriers to black voting still exist.   And 287G, for example, has been implemented aggressively and abusively in the South, particularly in North Carolina.  But, serious tensions between African Americans and immigrants have burst forth like geysers.   Unfortunately, instead of seeing the South as critical to the possibility for national transformation, many national organizations and funders regard it as peripheral.

Movement Building

If the immigrant rights movement is to overcome its internal divisions and to build lasting cross-racial and cross-community alliances that wield power, it must broaden its strategic outlook and willingly grapple with tough, complicated problematics that defy quick fixes and sound bites.   There are many questions progressive movements must solve together.  Here are a few:

How do we take to scale educational strategies that address the causes of global migration and bridge multiple understandings of race, racism, and identity?

 

How do we balance the deep and longer-term work we all have to do to become authentic allies with the urgency of immediate campaigns?

 

How is comprehensive, just immigration reform linked to economic recovery that brings marginalized African Americans back into the formal economy, benefits everyone, and sustains the planet?


[1] By neoliberal we are referring to free trade, structural adjustment, privatization, deregulation, dismantling the public sector, union busting, restricting civil rights, militarization, and other “free market” policies that allow capital to flow and corporations to operate without restrictions, and, of course, the institutions like the WTO, IMF and World Bank that help implement them.