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Black in America too: Afro-Caribbean immigrants/Noir en Amerique Aussi: les immigrants Afro-caribeens/Negro en America tambien: inmigrantes Afrocaribenos.


This paper's central theoretical and empirical thrust is to examine the processes of racial/ethnic group formation of early first-generation Afro- Caribbean (1) immigrants and African Americans in New York City in the early decades of the twentieth century. These processes, generally called "ethnogenesis", turn primarily on the dynamics of social identity boundary construction. Intersecting race with ethnicity, as I do mostly in this paper, is an attempt, first, to discern the saliency of race and ethnicity to the social identities of early first-generation Afro-Caribbean immigrants and African Americans, and second, to demonstrate the transitive nature of their social identification.

L'orientation theorique et empirique de cet article est d'examiner les processus de formation de groupes raciaux/ethniques d'immigrants Afro-caribeens (1) de premiere generation et d'Africains Americains New York, dans les premieres decennies du XXeme siecle. Ces processus, generalement appeles <<ethnogenese>>, jouent principalement sur la dynamique de la construction de frontieres identitaires sociales. En croisant la race et l'ethnicite, cet article essaie, tout d'abord, de discemer l'importance de la race et de l'ethnicite dans les identites sociales des immigrants Afro-caribeens de la premiere generation et des Africains Americains, et ensuite de demontrer la nature transitive de leur identification sociale.

La esencia teorica y empirica de este trabajo es el analisis de los procesos de formacion de grupos raciales/etnicos en las primeras generaciones de inmigrantes afrocaribenos (1) y afro-americanos en la ciudad de Nueva York en las primeras decadas del siglo XX. Estos procesos, generalmente llamados "etnogenesis", se transforman principalmente en la dinamica de la construccion de los limites de la identidad social. Al entrelazar raza y etnicidad, como he hecho en la mayor parte de este trabajo, he tratado primeramente de discernir la importancia de la raza y la etnicidad en las identidades sociales de las primeras generaciones de inmigrantes afrocaribenos y afroamericanos, y en segundo lugar, demostrar la naturaleza transicional de su identificacion social.

The forming of racial and ethnic identities in the US

All immigrants experience conflicts of social identity when confronted by the necessity of remaking their lives in a new society. For the United States (US), the social identity conflicts of early European immigrants have been well documented (Gordon 1964; Handlin 1973; Daniels 1990). In the case of Afro-Caribbean immigrants, the issue is complicated by the fact that they arrived in the early decades of the 1900s with a deep ambivalence over their racial and cultural heritages, the legacy of a colonial, slave-based past (Buchanan 1979). These conflicts were further exacerbated by the position of these black immigrants within the US race and socioeconomic system, by the social identities ascribed to them by members of the dominant white society, and by the unfamiliar and unanticipated intra-racial dynamics between them and African Americans. Resultantly, then as now, Afro-Caribbean immigrants and African Americans have made significant contributions to the amalgam of immigration, race and ethnic relations studies in the US.

Specifically, over time, other than challenging the conceptualisation of the colour line, they have played a major role in our appreciation of" ... the way racial and ethnic identities are formed among immigrants and the way intergroup relations have developed" (Foner 2005, 43) in the US. Indeed, as Foner and Frederickson (2004, 9) reveal, "There is a dialectical interplay between social constructions and interethnic or racial relations. Certainly, these relations are shaped by the way race and ethnicity are constructed in specific times and places; at the same time, day-to-day social relations--in communities, neighborhoods, organisations, and families--can play a role in altering the boundaries between ethno-racial groups and thus the very way in which the groups are defined and conceived." Thus, those of us who are students of race and ethnicity in the US cannot help but be students of immigration as well (Cornell and Hartman 2004).

The racial/ethnic categories that immigrants are placed in, such as Black, Hispanic and Asian, for example, are not uncontested terrains in the US. In fact, the content of these categories has been constructed and reconstructed by members of the US host society and by the immigrants themselves. As McDonnell and de Lourenco's (2009, 239 citing Silverstein 2005) study of Brazilian immigrant women reveals, immigrants in the US do contest their racialisation, that is, "the process of attaching racial meaning to individuals, sub-populations and social phenomena, making what could be subtle and fluid, for example, racial identity, into a relatively fixed category." Despite this fact, although racialised immigrant groups may contest their social identities and invoke inclusionary and/or exclusionary social identities which build boundaries where "border skirmishes" (Lewis 2003) erupt between members of the host society, the proximal host society, that is, the racial category to which immigrants will be assigned following immigration, other immigrant populations, and themselves, this does not mean that, at times, they do not coalesce behind a common racial or ethnic identity. Whether an ascribed or imposed racial identity or a selective ethnic identity is invoked depends on whether it is in their best interest or to their advantage to so do.

Schematically, this paper is divided into three main sections. The first section cursorily examines the migration of Afro-Caribbean immigrants and African Americans to New York City in the early decades of the twentieth century. In some detail, the second section deals with the various assumptions and theories on ethnogenesis. Guided by the theoretical framework advanced by Mittelberg and Waters (1992, 412), the third section addresses, in somewhat of a considerable fashion as well, the major processes of ethnic group formation when an immigrant population moves to a socio-spatial terrain different from that of its home society. In the case of Afro-Caribbean immigrants, this section therefore looks at: (a): The conception of race that Afro-Caribbean emigres bring with them from their countries of origin. (b) The conception of race that exists in the US: Not sharing the blueprint for assigning identity. And (c) The process of ethnicity racialisation: Afro-Caribbean immigrants' oppositional relations with African Americans, the proximal hosts. This study is therefore based on the premise that a comparative perspective will make sense of social identity conflicts between racial/ethnic groups relating in different or in similar ways to the same socio-spatial area or those from the same socio-spatial area relating differently or in a similar fashion to different socio-spatial areas. (2)


Although the Statue of Liberty invitingly faces Europe, like their early European counterparts, early first-generation Afro-Caribbean immigrants also enjoyed the signal experience of disembarking at Ellis Island (Mandulo 1995; Foner 2000). Without a doubt, they were the overall majority of the 143,797 black immigrants who entered the US between 1899 and 1937 (Reid 1939; Walter 1981-82, 18). While a sizable proportion of them were secondary male migrants who wanted to escape the racism and discriminatory treatment meted out to Afro-Caribbean labourers in Central and South America, the overall majority of them departed the Caribbean region directly (Reid 1939; Basch 1982; Marshall 1982; Conniff 1985; Holder 1987; Thomas-Hope 1978; Watkins-Owens 1996.) Of note, Afro-Caribbean women were very much a part of this massive migration from the Caribbean region to the US as well (Reid 1939; 1970; Reddock 1990; Kasinitz 1992; Watkins-Owens 2001).

They had arrived so rapidly in what is often called the "first wave" of Caribbean migration to the US (Marshall 1982; Thomas-Hope 1978) that the rate of growth of the foreign-born black population vastly outpaced the rate of growth of the native-born black, native-born white, and foreign-born white populations (Reid 1939). While the "second wave" of Caribbean migration began in the 1930s but, in reality, is more considered a stream, the "third wave", which began in the 1960s, has assumed "hurricane wave" proportions and continues to this day (Kasinitz 1992; Foner 2005). Then as now, New York City is their principal city of entry and settlement. As census data show, " ... by 1930, 57 percent of all Caribbean immigrants lived in New York", especially in Harlem, the home for some 40,000, and with much smaller percentages in Tampa, Miami, and Boston (Walter 1981-82, 18; Watkins-Owens 1996, 1). Thus, like it was for millions of European immigrants, New York City represents "the ultimate urban frontier ... (and) ... remains the leading target and entrepot (port of entry) for Caribbean people to the United States" (Bryce-Laporte 1979, 214-15).

The first wave of Caribbean migration also coincided with the "Great Migration" of African Americans from the southern states to northern US cities (Hamilton 1964; Scheiner 1965; Katznelson 1973; Shofner 1979; Goodwin 1990; Harrison 1991; Lemann 1992). In similar fashion to the many immigrants from the Caribbean region, New York City was the "Promised Land"--the "Mecca"--for African-American migrants, especially to those who came from the southern Atlantic states of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and Virginia (Scheiner 1965, 6-12). Hence, although the first wave of Afro-Caribbean immigrants and their rate of growth were unprecedented in the early twentieth century, these black immigrants were not the dominant black population in New York City at the time. For instance, while in 1910 there were 12,000 foreign-born blacks there and they increased to 37,000 by 1920, where they represented 24 percent of the city's black population (Foner 2005, 44), African Americans were more numerous and more residentially concentrated in New York City at the time and continuing (Osofsky 1971; Crowder and Tedrow 2001; Foner 2005). Accordingly, on New York City, Ira Katznelson (1973, 62) was to write:
   With the exception of Chicago, no city felt the impact of the
   black migration from the South more than New York. In 1890,
   36,617 New Yorkers ... were black; in 1900, 60,666; in 1910,
   91,709; in 1920, 152,467; by 1930, New York City's black
   population numbered 327,706. In 1890, one person in seventy
   in Manhattan (where most of the city's blacks lived) was black;
   in 1930, one in nine. By 1910, New York's black population was
   the second highest for any American city; by 1920, it was the
   largest in the country. In 1890, Harlem was a semi-rural,
   all-white, upper-class community; in 1930 ... "the Negro
   metropolis" in America. (3)

Because these voluntary mass black movements and settlements were unprecedented in US history, we must be very mindful of this singular historical fact and of the socio-spatial context of these diaspora blacks encountering each other for the first time in such large numbers outside of Africa in the United States. So, while the number of Afro-Caribbean immigrants who arrived in New York City through Ellis Island may appear minuscule and insignificant to the millions of Europeans who arrived during this period, undoubtedly "their historical impact lies with their social and cultural impact" (Watkins-Owens 1996, 3-4).

Crucially significant as well, African Americans became the racialised proximal hosts for incoming Afro-Caribbean immigrants. Speaking of the formation of Africans as a racialised people, that is, from a collective of differences to a different collective, during their enslavement period in the US, Stephen Cornell describes the process of collective identity formation this way. Very early in their extended contact, for example as Wolofs and Ibos, with Euro-Americans, a race conscious collective identity was imposed on Africans. He credits this racial identification as substantially a response to economic and political interests in which people emphasise racial and ethnic boundaries when it is to their benefit to do so. In this case, the benefit was the appropriation of African labour power. The construction of this race-conscious collective identity was buttressed by a political/economic organisation structured to pursue this benefit (Cornell 1990). Enslaved Africans in the US therefore underwent a process of racialised construction that was economical, political and conceptual. In the end, they acquired an imposed negative racial identity that remained with them during and after their journeys to northern US cities, where they were invariably mistreated as unwelcome migrants and treated as the "Negro Problem". It is worth mentioning that Afro-Caribbean immigrants were also trekking into such a determinative social milieu in New York City, where to be seen and treated as American Blacks was also to become a problem for them.


Scholars are presently paying close attention to the social construction of identities, where their main motif is the idea that social identities are not static but are "multiply inflected and continuously reproduced" (Khan 1995, 93). To approach identities as socially constructed therefore challenges the idea that identities are naturally formed and produced purely by the will of the individual. Also challenged is the essentialism of identity formation, that is, that individuals can have "singular, integral, altogether harmonious and unproblematic identities". Like others, essentialist racial and ethnic identities are thus often challenged by those on whom such identities have been fixed upon (Cornell and Hartman 2004). Such challenges are very crucial to an understanding of the acts of separation and distancing practised by early first-generation Afro-Caribbean immigrants and African Americans in New York City in the first few decades of the twentieth century.

While there is common agreement among scholars that identities are socially constructed, many are still debating the explanatory potential of two diametrically opposed perspectives--the primordial and circumstantial--to understand the processes that lead to emergent, re-emergent, and persistent ethnic identities in the US. These processes, which are generally called "ethnogenesis", turn primarily on the dynamics of social identity boundary construction. However, a third, more current perspective --oppositional in nature--that incorporates both the primordial and circumstantial perspectives is very relevant to this paper.

Theories of ethnogenesis: Primordial versus circumstantial perspectives

Adopting a psychological stance, proponents of the primordial perspective (primordialists) seek to explain strong ethnic attachments (primal bonds), especially those ethnic attachments that persist over time in radically different socio-spatial environments, on the basis of their ineffable, affective and, at times, kinship significance (Shils 1957 and Geertz 1973, cited by Eller and Coughlan 1993; van den Berghe 1978). Indicative of the historical nature of primordialism, this ineffable, affective, and kinship significance most often surrounds the images of the groups' distinctive past. Advancing a contrasting behavioural explanation, scholars who espouse the circumstantial perspective (circumstantialists) view the formation of ethnic identity as arising from certain social circumstances--both internal and external--under which the members of the group exist. These social circumstances, which some scholars view as structural conditions, act directly to enhance group solidarity (McKay 1982; Scott, Jr. 1990; Cornell and Hartman 2004).

As a popular concept used to describe the origin and strength of ethnic attachments, Eller and Coughlan (1993, 184) see primordialism as extremely vacuous, un-analytical and un-sociological because "there are logically no circumstances in which ethnicity can be described as primordial". Pointedly, they challenge the three distinct ideas of the concept as used by Geertz (1973): that ethnic or primordial attachments are given or a priori; are ineffable or over-powering or coercive; and are affective or emotive (Eller and Coughlan 1993, 187-92). In the end, they declare that primordialism "offers no mechanism for the genesis of its phenomena, nor does it recognize or explicate any significant relationship between ethnic attachments and the ongoing social experiences of ethnic members" (Eller and Coughlan 1993, 194). As a conceptual corrective to the use of primordialism, they recommend that the focus should be on the social experiences or social practices that people engage in that foster the emergence, re-emergence, and persistence of ethnic identity (Eller and Coughlan 1993, 195-99).

Moreover, to circumstantialists, a major concern with the primordial approach is that while it can explain the persistence of ethnic identity over time, it cannot address why ethnic identity fluctuates in intensity or is unevenly distributed within a group at a particular time (Scott, Jr. 1990, 149). Circumstantialists claim to provide the answer by focusing on the social circumstances or rather the changing social circumstances surrounding ethnic identity (Espiritu 1992). They adopt a position that a constant cannot explain a variable. McKay (1982, 399) also sees primordialists as viewing social, economic and political inequalities, that is, social circumstances, playing minimum roles, if any at all, in social identity formation. Of considerable importance, he perceives groups instead as competitors over scarce resources. And, in the process of competing, they consciously mobilise ethnic symbols in order to obtain access to social, political and material resources. Primordialists, on the other hand, counter that while the circumstantialists can explain fluctuations in ethnicity, they are less able to account for its persistence over time in spite of fluctuations. To them, a variable cannot explain a constant. It is in this manner the two perspectives are treated as mutually exclusive, that is, if ethnic attachments are primordial they cannot be circumstantial and vice versa (Scott, Jr. 1990, 149).

Integrating primordial and circumstantial perspectives: Oppositional perspective

Moving away from the tendency to dichotomise primordialism and circumstantialism, McKay (1982) also thinks that, instead of asking which perspective has more explanatory power, researchers should seek to inquire about the extent to which both perspectives are operative in varying degrees. Cornell and Hartman (2004) also clearly make this assertion:

Circumstances may at times account for the emergence of specific categories and identities, but they are much less able to account for the durability of race and ethnicity or for what people actually do in their names. Missing from much of the analysis of these phenomena has been an adequate account of why race and ethnicity, under hugely variable and discontinuous circumstances, have retained their apparent privilege and power as bases of identity, social organization, and collective action and as the grounds on which many groups, in effect, choose to interpret and pursue their interests (Cornell and Hartman 2004, 27).

Closely following Edward Spicer (1971), Scott, Jr. proposes, instead, an oppositional model that emphasises inter-group opposition rather than inter-group interaction as a major circumstantial factor that creates and maintains ethnic identity (Scott, Jr. 1990, 157). Moreover, since opposition may take various forms (Scott, Jr. 1990, 163), here, the emphasis can be on a racial/ethnic group's opposition to assimilation into another racial/ethnic group represented by proximal hosts. Taking cue from Milton Gordon's (1964) stage process of assimilation, members of the racial/ethnic group may oppose being racially identified with proximal hosts where their ethnic distinctiveness becomes indistinguishable from their imposed racial identity. And, certainly, this opposition can intensify significantly when members of the racial/ethnic group perceive that dire socioeconomic consequences would result from such racial identification. Thus, in this oppositional analysis of group formation, the process of boundary construction, "the erection of more or less set divisions between groups identified as self and other", (Goldberg 1993, 75) is very germane.

Boundary markers within and between racial/ethnic groups and proximal hosts can "be visible or invisible, symbolic or real" (Wallman 1986, 230). Other than laying claim to cognitively mapped, territorial spaces, (4) the bases of boundary markers can take the form of language communication, that is, the use of a specialised vocabulary for self-definition and defining the opposition--the "other". (5) Thus, when used in everyday interactions (Lewis 2003), language is " ... a way of creating unity within the identity system as well as a means of maintaining the boundaries between the system and others ... " (Scott, Jr. 1990, 162). Another base is the moral values shared by a group, which provide prescriptions for the creation of "otherness" and this is formed largely on denunciatory stereotypes of character and behaviour. Finally, the political participation of group members in organisations to oppose contending interests also leads to the creation and maintenance of boundaries (Nagel 1986; Scott, Jr. 1990; Kasinitz 1992). Thus, as Frederik Barth (1969, 16) reminds us: "Entailed in ethnic boundary maintenance are also situations of social contact between persons of different cultures: ethnic groups only persist as significant units if they imply marked difference in behaviour, i.e. persisting cultural differences."

In showing the nexus between opposition and ethnic identity, Scott, Jr. places ethnicity along a continuum, utilising the degree of ethnic identity as the dependent variable and the degree of opposition as the independent variable. Accordingly, "The degree of an ethnic group's identity will vary in direct proportion to the amount of opposition encountered by the group, the greater the opposition, the greater the degree of identity, and conversely, the lesser the amount of opposition, the lesser the degree of identity" (Scott, Jr. 1990, 163). In this model, primordialism is considered an intervening variable.

[T]he greater the degree of opposition, the greater the primordial sentiments engendered, and the greater the degree of ethnic solidarity expressed by the group. Opposition, then, does not lead directly to ethnic solidarity, but operates indirectly through the psychological mechanism of primordial sentiments. When opposed, members of an ethnic group will conjure up images of their 'glorious past', often intertwined with images of their ancestors' deprivation and suffering, which helps further to strengthen ethnic ties. Moreover, with respect to content of ethnic identity, the primordial sentiments will attach to the symbols against which the greatest opposition is expressed, whether language, territory, heroes, music, dance, cuisine, or clothing, such that they will become even more salient in the individual's reckoning of his or her ethnicity. Thus, in this model, primordialism no longer appears as a self-contained entelechy, but instead is causally tied to the circumstantial variable of opposition, while retaining its influence on ethnic attachments (Scott, Jr. 1990, 163).

This study follows Scott, Jr.'s oppositional model of ethnogenesis. The advantages, as expressed, are the incorporation of both primordialism and circumstantialism, but under the ambit of the degree and nature of opposition that exists between early first-generation Afro-Caribbean immigrants and members of the proximal host society, African Americans. In this context, these Afro-Caribbean immigrants invoked certain ethnic markers in order to racialise their ethnicity so as to separate themselves, that is, to make racial space by constructing ethnic boundaries, from the more racially encompassing black American racial identity.

Crucially I hold that though racialisation is generally presented as a process or practice that racially dissimilar groups engage in, I also see it as a disguised process or practice that racially similar groups engage in as well. Racialisation can wear many masks. It can hide either behind the mask of ethnicity, class, politics, culture or nationality (Goldberg 1993, 69-84). Under the mask of ethnicity, therefore, certain ethnic markers were invoked and racialised and the need to distinguish themselves as different from others similarly raced as themselves arose, first, when early first-generation Afro-Caribbean immigrants' racial identification with African Americans did not result in positive identification and interaction and, second, when there was intense competition between them over limited social, political and economic resources. And, as we know, competition can accentuate oppositional social relations among individuals of unequal or even equal status (Healey 2007). It is in these two circumstances then that the social relations between these racially similar groups can be said to be one of opposition rather than the identification and interaction that one might expect.


To a large degree, the theoretical difference between race and ethnicity that has engaged or, as some would say, plagued social scientists is faced every day as a practical and personal question by many black immigrants in the US. Without getting into these theoretical debates concerning the saliency or primacy of race over ethnicity and vice versa (Mittelberg and Waters 1992; Cornell and Hartman 2004), generally speaking, race has been socially, culturally and politically constructed to distinguish people along phenotypical lines, while ethnicity has been so constructed as well to define people along lines of national origin, religion, language, food and other cultural markers. In regard to the focus of this study, however, suffice it to say at this point that race and ethnicity are conceptualised differently in the Caribbean region and the US (Vickerman 2001).

There is a hierarchy of shades of skin colour and more categories of racial difference than just black and white in the Caribbean region. This "multilayered pigmentocracy" (Lewis 1983, 9; James 1993, 234) that socially locates individuals and groups is a legacy of a colonial, slave-based past. In colonial times, this colour hierarchy merged with a race/class hierarchy to produce a tripartite racial order (Foner 1987; 2000; Vickerman 2001), in which people who approximated most closely to the European type in terms of skin colour, hair texture and facial characteristics were accorded, by white idealogues, high status; and those who were deemed without such features were placed at the bottom of the social order. Coloureds, the offspring of European and African miscegenation, were placed below Europeans but higher than Africans (James 1993).

What Bridget Brereton wrote, therefore, was largely applicable to all enslaved African-based societies in the Caribbean region. The key index of status was based on "a profoundly racist conviction of the superiority of the European 'race' and its civilisation and the irremediable inferiority of Africans and their culture, linked to an obsession with colour and phenotype and racial 'purity' (defined as the absence of any known African ancestor)" (Brereton 1993, 43). One major consequence of such racial and cultural ordering was Afro-Caribbean people's deep ambivalence towards their racial and cultural identity. (6) As Winston James (1993, 237) re-emphasises, a "somewhat subconscious element of self-doubt if not self-contempt afflicted the African section of the population during and after slavery". At the same time though, with the eventual rise of an educated black middle class that gained political power, this self-doubt weakened as a perceived barrier to their upward mobility aspirations.

Conversely, the crude binary (black-white or bipolar) categorisation, despite the modest claim by Bonilla-Silva (2004) of the pending emergence of a tripartite model comprising whites, honorary whites and collective blacks, is still the dominant "poles of the racial order" (Bonilla-Silva 2004, 492) to allocate non-white and non-black groups or "in-between people", according to Foner (2000, 149), in a racial hierarchy in the US. (7) This racial bipolarity has not always been in place but developed from a colonial tripartite model very similar to that of the Caribbean region of white, mixed race or mulatto, and black. Later, segregation legislation in the southern states was geared, largely in part, to "maintain the supposed purity of the white race by socially separating it from all people of colour, biracial, mixed-race, or black. Segregation thus established the Manichean definition that people were either black or white with no space left for in-between possibilities" (Russell 2009, 82). (8) Very operative in the US in this respect is the "one-drop rule or one drop-theory" of racial identification which, though "legally in retreat" (Foner 2000, 149), still defines as black all individuals with any trace of black ancestry (Omi and Winant 1986; Vickerman 2001).

Therefore, even though race has lost its scientific credibility, especially in light of scientific confirmation of wider genetic variations within than between racial groups (Jackson and Penrose 1993, 4, citing Cavalli-Sforza 1974), the concept is still very much current in popular discourse. "[T]he scientific disavowal of the 'racial' differentiation of human populations has not been followed by similar repudiation of its significance within either political discourse or popular culture" (Jackson and Penrose 1994, 4). The word "race" is still used when the speaker wishes to ascribe objective and immutable hierarchical differences between individuals or human groups (Myers and Williamson 2001). And, it is always the subordinated other who is racialised rather than the dominant self. For this reason, according to Hamilton (1995, 25):
   [r]ace remains a central defining factor in the experience and
   historical meaning of Africa diaspora people ... the primary
   experience of being defined as an inferior race and in racial
   terms is pertinent to the social identity formation process ... it
   is virtually impossible for peoples of the African diaspora to
   avoid being conscious of race. Race is indeed a factor in the
   groups' own definitions of the collective 'we'.

Ethnicity, on the other hand, though generally self-imposed, is also hierarchical. Nonetheless, it implies a degree of choice and a possibility for change which 'race' often precludes.


Afro-Caribbean people's deep ambivalence towards their racial and cultural identity is exacerbated in the US. Their race, class and skin colour do not carry the same salience as they do in the Caribbean region. (9) Rather, in the US, it is race that is the building block of ethnic identity. In this context then race is the major defining boundary between groups, although ethnic markers such as religion, language and nationality may be salient in a particular type of group or at a particular historical moment. Since race is the axis most determinative of ethnic identity in the US, it is those groups that are defined racially who have the least amount of options or flexibility in changing into other types of groups (Mittelberg and Waters 1992, 417). As McDonnell and de Lourenco (2009, 241) elucidate: "Anyone not obviously white American is subject to scrutiny, being compared to a reference point at or near the bottom of the ethno-racial hierarchy: US American blacks."

Looking at the US racial hierarchy, that is, along the top white majority to bottom black minority colour line, (10) we see Afro-Caribbean immigrants as straddling a racially imposed migrant/ minority categorisation and location that limit their range of choices in how to classify themselves. In their migration, they were thus subject to a combined process of numerical and social minoritisation, which was deleterious in its implications and its effects. They had all come from Caribbean societies where they were the majority population with limited power, yes, but now, collectively, they were simultaneously a numerical and social minority. It is in this scenario that being Black had great salience for them, if not in a positive way. As Foner (2005, 112) makes clear of the experiences of first-generation West Indians in New York City and London: "[F]or the first time, they have become acutely and painfully aware that black skin is a significant status marker. In a real sense, West Indians learn to 'become black' in America and Britain." The experience of this painful awareness is exemplified by one Mr. E, a Jamaican participant in Foner's New York study when he revealed that: "I wasn't aware of my color till I got here, honestly" (Foner 1987, 203). (11) Likewise, as newcomers in this deterministic social milieu, there was also the "greater potential for social exclusion" since they were positioned as Black (Bashi 1998; Vickerman 2001; Foner 2005; McDonnell and de Lourenco 2009).

Although one should be very wary of over-generalising from a single case study, the experience of 30 first-generation and 30 second-generation, middle-class Haitian immigrants in Mittelberg's and Waters' (1992) study is, in my view, very suggestive of the consequences of such racially imposed identities on Afro-Caribbean immigrants in the US. Adopting an approach in which both primordialism and circumstantialism are operative in social identity formation, Mittelberg and Waters (1992, 413) seek to show "the point at which the structural conditions which shape the overall categories of ethnicity and the cognitive conditions which operate on the individual level to shape immigrant behaviors and identities converge". For these Haitian immigrants, this point of convergence is difficult to actualise in a positive way. For when an immigrant enters a country where the categories and the content of the categories of identification are different from her/his own, then the "immigrant and the host society do not share the same scheme or blueprint for assigning identity" (Mittelberg and Waters 1992, 415).

For Afro-Caribbean immigrants, race was not a salient (and overriding) dimension of identity (Vickerman 2001). It did not assume the role of a "master status" (Kasinitz 1992, 33) in the Caribbean region, but undoubtedly for them it did in the US (Foner 2000, 150; 2005, 109) where race is a "central axis of social relations" (Omi and Winant 1986, 61). Therefore, "the race of the immigrants is an immediate dimension of identification, and in many cases of continuing discrimination and prejudice" (Mittelberg and Waters 1992, 427). In describing the "migration-identification amalgam" experiences of first-generation Jamaicans in New York City, Foner (1987, 202) also had this to say: "Perhaps the most jarring change was that being black took on a new, and more painful, meaning. As part of the larger black population in a racially divided America, blackness became more a stigma than it had been in Jamaica."

The process of ethnicity racialisation

This section examines Afro-Caribbean immigrants' oppositional relations with African Americans, the proximal hosts. These oppositional relations were manifested by acts of separation and distancing between these racial/ethnic groups. But, though recurring, these oppositional relations were not altogether enduring. Indeed, there were periods whereby early, first-generation Afro-Caribbean immigrants identified with and interacted with African Americans. That is, there were moments of identification and interaction as well as separation and distancing operating at different times, and even at the same time, but along different dimensions. In order to create boundaries and so separate and distance themselves from--and not identify and interact with--each other, the process of ethnicity racialisation occurred when ethnicity was invoked to publicly create, demarcate, and racialise "others". For, as Teelucksingh (2006, 5) clearly points out, "[e]thnic diversity within racial groups leads to distinctions based on racial meanings." In this regard, ethnicity cannot simply be equated with only cultural heritage. Ethnicity can be employed and/or masked to create "racial otherness" as well in such a manner as to negatively impact groups' access to social, economic and political resources.

The oppositional relations between Afro-Caribbean immigrants and African Americans were fuelled by three major and related circumstantial factors that shaped the contours of this process of ethnicity racialisation. One was the stigmatised public image of African Americans internalised by early first-generation Afro-Caribbean immigrants. This can be deemed an internal circumstantial factor where the process of ethnicity racialisation was intra-racial or an internal-to-group process. Here, early first-generation Afro-Caribbean immigrants feared that identification and interaction with African Africans would lead to status reduction and redound, as well, into diminished socioeconomic returns. In like fashion, African Americans were not always willing to incorporate these Afro-Caribbean arrivistas into their lifeworld. (12) Buttressing their oppositional relations was another internal circumstantial factor which was manifested in the intense competition between them for scarce socioeconomic resources-principally jobs and housing accommodation.

Mind you, this process of ethnicity racialisation was not always intra-racial. It was also constructed and conducted by external agents, especially, and predominantly, by members of the dominant group. Hence, we find that an external circumstantial factor where the process of ethnicity racialisation was inter-racial or an external-to-group process was whites', especially white employers', favourable opinion and treatment of early first-generation Afro-Caribbean immigrants over African Americans. Indeed, such ethnic bias thus had the effect of perpetuating the oppositional relations between them. Very early, Reid (1938) was able to draw our attention to this duality in the race relations experiences of black immigrants in the US, where they have to deal with intraracial as well as inter-racial processes of race relations.

The process of ethnicity racialisation that was intra-racial in nature took various forms during this period: accentuation of dress, language, nationality and presentation of self as achieving the American Dream, unlike African Americans. This process was very similar to a process of ethnic dis-identification described by David M. Hayano for Asian immigrants in the US. He describes the process of ethnic dis-identification as "the reactions taken by ethnic groups who are perceived by themselves or outsiders to be 'close', who might be mistaken for one another, and who feel the need to establish their authentic ethnic status" (Hayano 1981, 158). Explaining the actions of various Asian ethnic groups to distinguish and so distance themselves from one another, Hayano points out that each Asian ethnic group "frequently exhibits a pronounced tendency toward maintaining its own unique ethnic identity as it pertains to religion, food, language, or culture. Hence, within various Asian American groups it is not difficult to find evidence of inter-ethnic stereotyping, discrimination, and persistent claims of cultural or physical superiority."

Racialising ethnicity: Dress, language, nationality, achievements

Though not labelling the process as either ethnicity racialisation or ethnic dis-identification, Reid (1939) presents a repertoire of ethnic markers or what some call "foreign markers" (Bashi Bobb and Clarke 2001) that these early, first-generation Afro-Caribbean immigrants utilised in New York City in the 1900s to 1930s to racialise their ethnicity in order to socially separate and distance themselves from African Americans. Inspired no doubt by Reid's pioneering work, more contemporary scholars have written extensively on this facet of African American and Afro-Caribbean history in New York City (see Spurling 1962; Raphael 1964; Bryce-LaPorte 1972; Walter 1977, 1981-2; Hellwig 1978; Gordon 1980; Vickerman 1991; Bashi Bobb and Clarke 2001). For example, Bashi Bobb and Clarke (2001, 232) report how second-generation Afro-Caribbean immigrants in New York City invoke their ethnic identity to better their treatment from others which in turn "builds motivation to duplicate or demonstrate ethnic distinctiveness". Specifically, they relate how Nadine, one of the respondents in their study, recounted that:
   People treat you different when you say that you're
   Trinidadian. We were discussing something in class, and I said
   to one of the other black students in class--and he's from
   Florida--'Well, my folks just didn't play that. My folks were
   born in the islands. I am a child of West Indian parents.' And
   the professor heard me and he goes, 'Oh, that makes you very
   different.' But he never elaborated, and I never asked. But he
   did recognize a difference. I wasn't imagining it. It does exist.

They continue that "even if sometimes experienced negatively, West Indian ethnicity generally buffers the second generation from some of the negative characterizations associated with their racial status" (Bashi Bobb and Clarke 2001, 232).

Thus, in the context of resentment to racial identification with African Americans which, in the minds of these early immigrants, led to stigmatisation and loss of status, and also as a result of intense competition over jobs and housing accommodation in New York City, greater primordial sentiments were engendered in such ethnic attachments as dress, language or accent, and nationality. For instance, in order to racialise ethnicity in public space, more well-to-do, early first-generation Afro-Caribbean male immigrants' attire consisted of white shoes, flannel trousers and linen shirts. Others were very deliberate in speaking loudly in their native brogue with the expectation that they would be treated better by whites once it was understood that they were not African Americans (Foner 1987; Watkins-Owen 1996). Seen as putting on airs with their exaggerated British accent (Walter 1981-82, 24; Watkins-Owen 1996, 150-51), in retaliation, African Americans used public ridicule in public spaces to take charge of the racialisation process conducted by these black strangers, and simultaneously to rebuff their racialisation. In derision of things foreign, and since Africa was "foreign" to them, these early, first-generation Afro-Caribbean immigrants--men and women alike--were called "banana eaters" and "monkey-chasers" (Reid 1939, 109; 113; Walter 1981-82, 24; Watkins-Owen 1996, 28-29; 153). As such, this ditty soon became popular among African Americans (Walter 1981-82, 25).
   When a monkey chaser dies,
   Don't need no undertaker;
   Just throw him in de Harlem River,
   He'll float back to Jamaica

In creating boundaries, Myers and Williamson (2001, 12) see such racial characterising or caricaturing of persons as objectifying and dehumanising. Walter (1981-82, 24) further contends that African Americans, in adopting the world view of white Americans, saw themselves as superior to all other blacks in the diaspora and even those in continental Africa whom they deemed "hut-dwellers". In the process, these ethnic markers became "the standardized external of the Negro stranger by which he is prejudged and stratified" (Reid 1939, 113). (13)

Additionally, these early arrivistas exalted their British colonial heritage rather than identify with the US. For instance, by declaring that "I am a British subject! I shall appeal to my consul", many British colonial immigrants sought redress in racial discrimination and segregation matters as a distinctive foreign ethnic group, rather than as a member of a larger black subpopulation (Reid 1939, 110). As one black oral interviewer stated: "We were all strangers. The black American, the black foreigner, and we did not like one another, and the white foreigner liked us less and the white American hated all of us" (Watkins-Owens 1996, 29 quoting Balaniff 1977, 2).

With the rapid entry of these Afro-Caribbean immigrants into New York City in the early 1900s, African Americans were also now confronting intense competition over jobs and housing accommodation from two foreign sources: from European immigrants who dominated the skilled trades and discriminatorily kept them out, and from Afro-Caribbean immigrants who, although moderately educated and skilled, sought the "distasteful and menial" available jobs that were not wanted by the European immigrants (Scheiner 1965, 45-64; Watkins-Owens 1996, 3). (14) In describing competition as the "matrix of the problem ... most clearly indicated in the economic aspects of the relationship," Reid (1939, 118; 109) reports that African Americans in New York City complained that they found it difficult to secure work (15) because these early, first-generation Afro- Caribbean immigrants were very clannish and when they got jobs they brought in many more of their country folk. Likewise, Vickerman (2001, 245-46) argues that while Afro-Caribbean immigrants did not racially identify with African Americans because "their whole history and culture acts as a counterpressure against conceptualizing the world in racial terms ... ," he also contends that they "... are highly pragmatic, focusing primary attention on material and educational advancement and paying only secondary attention to social issues such as racism".

As mentioned, this process of ethnicity racialisation can be an inter-racial process as well, constructed and conducted by external agents, especially members of the dominant group. As such, early first-generation Afro-Caribbean people's ethnic identity was also racialised by whites in their everyday relations with them. Interestingly, this was a process that occurred in tandem with the racism and discrimination that "shocked or surprised" many of them in their everyday relations with the said whites (Bashi Bobb and Clarke 2001, Vickerman 1999; 2001). (16) As Bryce-Laporte (1972, 46) relates: "The white landlord, the white shopkeeper, and the white boss will also tell them of their moral superiority over the American black and distinctiveness of their accent, and, if British, the 'grammatical correctness' of their English or American--leaving them to believe that they are recipients of exceptional favours, when in fact they are being exploited no less than black Americans."

Standardised externals or ethnic internals were also concretised across gender and class lines in occupational and economic arenas. According to Reid (1939, 120), many Afro-Caribbean women who had found work in the garment industry during World War I dominated the skill tasks more than African-American women. Meanwhile, many of the male skilled workers and professionals who were unable to find suitable work established businesses instead. They were so successful in the black community that they dominated such fields as retail, publishing, politics, medicine and law (Kasinitz 1992, 95). For example, "By 1930, 40 per cent of the M.D.s in Who's Who in Colored America were West Indians, while West Indians accounted for between only 1.2 and 1.5 per cent of the population" (Walter 1981-82, 20). Reid (1939, 121) also estimates that in New York City as much as "one-third of the Negro professional population--particularly physicians, dentists and lawyers--is foreign-born". Very soon, these successful early first-generation Afro-Caribbean immigrants came to be known as "Black Jews".

Others--both men and women--were equally enterprising and successful in the underground economy, where they controlled the illegal lottery system known as "numbers" or "policy" and were at times the largest supplier of jobs to the black community in Harlem (Watkins-Owens 1996, 9; 137). It is not surprising then that these Afro-Caribbean immigrants' involvement in business, legal and otherwise, became a conspicuous ethnic marker of their settlement and interaction in Harlem (Watkins-Owens 1996, 126). It appears that the perception of their business success was transferred to the notion of their success in other areas as well. By the 1930s, therefore, the general sentiment of African Americans was that these black immigrants were taking jobs away from them, had "ruined the Baptist Church, captured the Episcopal Church and monopolized politics" (Reid 1939, 109). As a result, at the time, many African Americans, especially its influential leaders who felt their influence slipping away, as well as its press, espoused views that opposed continuing Caribbean immigration (Watkins-Owens 1996).

Kasinitz (1988, 181-4) also makes the point that since these professionals and entrepreneurs depended on the black community for their success, they did identify and interact with the Afro-American community they served.
   ... West Indian professionals found themselves organically
   tied to and economically dependent on the predominantly
   Afro-American communities they served ... The existence of a
   black community provided both their social position and their
   livelihood. Whatever they might have privately thought of
   Afro-Americans, this economic position, and their geographic
   concentration (the result of a racially segregated housing
   market), made them part of the black community and gave
   them a shared interest in expanding the opportunities available
   to that community. The very success of West Indian individuals
   within this Afro-American community contributed to what
   R.S. Bryce-Laporte describes as their 'invisibility' as an ethnic
   group ... While West Indian immigrants of this era may have
   brought a strong sense of ethnic identity to their private
   activities ... their public life was structured through
   Afro-American institutions.

A quick read of this contribution by Kasinitz may leave one with the impression that separation and distancing were not as institutionalised as the literature seems to suggest. And with this I agree since, for example, there were business partnerships between African Americans and these early Afro-Caribbean immigrants, especially in the lucrative real estate market (Watkins-Owens 1996, 43). More than that, however, I see his contribution as underscoring the point that the existing social circumstances structured the relationship between the groups to form an ethclass. (17) Both were dependent on and had a need for each other. Therefore, their involved relationship was under a specific set of social circumstances which were not immutable. At the time, both groups may have had limited divergent economic interests but, as the social circumstances changed, so too did their relationship.

In addition, Afro-Caribbean immigrants' desire to employ ethnic markers to distinguish themselves was propelled by their need, as an "invisible minority", to become more visible or for want of a better description, "hypervisible", and so construct an identity different from that of African Americans. As Bryce-Laporte (1979, 223) states: "Considering that it is an old movement of a distinct people in its own right, it is unfortunate that West Indian blacks are so often viewed as vis-a-vis or as part of the larger group of native-rooted American blacks and sometimes national Latin American minorities." And, since their distinctiveness or proclivities are not noted, "[p]aradoxically, they suffer multiple 'invisibility' and 'minoritization' of status because of their commonly shared visibility with their native born peers" (Bryce-Laporte 1979: 223). To a large degree, then, the differences within the black US population are overlooked by members of the white dominant majority " ... because of what is perceived as a commonality of race, language, culture, or region of origin ... thus facilitating their control and treatment in public situations" (Bryce-Laporte 1979: 223). An added definition of the situation could be applied here in which Afro-Caribbean immigrants suffer from "double invisibility" as immigrants and black immigrants, or "double visibility" as blacks in the eyes of whites and as foreigners in the eyes of native-born blacks (Bryce-Laporte 1972, 54).

Race and ethnicity: Shifting identities

So far the discussion has treated race and ethnicity as competing or mutually exclusive identities. But, dependent on the prevailing social circumstances, Afro-Caribbean immigrants can simultaneously identify and interact, and separate and distance themselves from American blacks. That is, they can simultaneously invoke the centripetal force of race and the centrifugal force of ethnicity without the crystallisation and supersession of one form of identity over the other. (18) This transitory and oscillatory process of identity formation tells us a lot about the protean nature of social identity. Vickerman, in his 1991 study of Afro-Caribbean (West Indian) immigrants in New York City, elucidates this protean nature of social identification. (19)

However, most West Indians are black, phenotypically speaking, and they readily embrace this identity. This 'racial' identity is not secondary to ethnicity. Instead, West Indians shift between these two identities, sometimes emphasizing ethnicity and, at other times, race. They emphasize ethnicity when they talk about: 1) their achievements in America, (2) behaviour and (3) values. In instances such as these, they often sound anti-African-American. However, when West Indians discuss situations that could be construed as 'racial' (that is, where their physical appearance is important) they often sound pro-African-American. Relevant instances include: (1) discussions of how they perceive whites, (2) their experiences with whites, and (3) discussions about politics, the police and the media (Vickerman 1991, 20-21).

There were thus moments in which American and Caribbean blacks, male and female, stood on common ground as an ethclass. For example, there were more black women, native and foreign, than black men in New York City during this period (Osofsky 1971, 4) and they came together and presented a common front in their struggle for better employment opportunities. Like their African-American sisters, Afro-Caribbean women were overly concentrated in domestic work and there was not one black woman, native or foreign, in white-collar or professional employment at the time (Watkins-Owens 1996, 45). According to Reid (1939, 122; 124) therefore, these early first-generation Afro-Caribbean women reached out to African-American women in their struggle for employment while some were, together with men, active unionists fighting for the rights of all (Reid 1939, 122; 124). Watkins-Owens (1996, 7; 2001, 25) also reports that these early first-generation Afro-Caribbean female immigrants played key roles in the formation of Caribbean communities for the first time in New York City.

Important roles were also played by black media institutions such as newspapers and magazines as well as by a proliferation of island clubs. For instance, in the early part of the twentieth century, radical black newspapers, such as The Negro Voice and The Challenge, and magazines such as The Messenger (Reid 1939; Walter 1981-82) did much to bridge the race and ethnic, and also the class, divides within the black community and so structure this ethclass. For as Watkins-Owens (1996, 7) illuminates: "In certain situations social class was just as important a defining feature of social relations as ethnicity." Thus, one editorial of The Challenge newspaper sought to enlighten blacks about the need to smash the "intra-racial colour line ... toward uniting the American Negroes and the West Indians" (Reid 1939, 123):
   There is no West Indian slave, no American slave; you are all
   slaves, base, ignoble slaves ... West Indian Negroes, you are
   oppressed. American Negroes, you are equally oppressed.
   West Indians, you are black. Americans, you are equally black.
   It is your color upon which white men pass judgement, not
   your merits, nor the geographical line between you.

There were also influential African Americans such as Langston Hughes who sought the same outcome in literary fashion. His little known poem, "Brothers", went like this (James 1998, 4-5 citing Hughes 1924, 160):
   We are related--you and I.
   You from the West Indies.
   I from Kentucky.
   We are related--you and I.
   You from Africa
   I from the States.
   We are brothers--you and I.

These clarion calls for intra-racial unity were impelled no doubt by the fact that blacks' " ... access to political power in the first decades of the twentieth century was stymied in part by their lack of demographic strength ... " (Foner 2005, 46).

Then, there was the "New Negro" literary renaissance or "Harlem Renaissance" in poetry, drama, musical theatre, and fiction in Harlem, the "black metropolis", the New World mecca of black people of the 1920s, which was, decidedly, more than a cultural movement where many early first-generation Afro-Caribbean men and women made significant contributions (Reid 1939, 86; Watkins-Owens 1996, 154). It was also an era of intense black radical participation in politics, race consciousness, black nationalism, and labor organisation. As Walter (1977, 131) notes: "The involvement of Black radicals in these movements, primarily Black immigrants, led to increased radical consciousness, which in turn evolved into the cultural rebirth of Black America." He also contends that they, especially the more educated or them, Who approximated the educational status of the "talented tenth" or Caribbean "Talented Tenth" as Watkins-Owens (1996, 3) calls them, provided much-needed radical leadership for the black cause. And, that many of them saw themselves as inferior to no one, especially American whites (Walter 1981-82, 20).

Others, due to the selectiveness of their migration, where the more educated tend to migrate at a higher proportion than the less educated, were to make their academic mark at Howard, Harvard, Columbia, and New York Universities, where they far excelled African Americans (Walter 1981-82, 24). As Reid (1938, 416) reports, between 1867 and 1932, there were more than one thousand Afro-Caribbean immigrants enrolled at Howard University.

During this period, therefore, there emerged a cadre of radical female and male leaders of Afro-Caribbean origin called the Harlem or New Negro Radicals. The more prominent members of this group were Grace Campbell; Elizabeth Hendrickson; Herbert H. Harrison, an immigrant from St Croix in the Virgin Islands who was conferred the title "The Father of Harlem Radicalism;" Jamaican immigrant W.A. Domingo; Cyril V. Briggs, a Nevisian immigrant; Ashley L. Totten from St. Croix; and Frank R. Crosswaith (a.k.a. the "Negro Debs" because of his fiery oratorical skills) who emigrated from the Virgin Islands (Walter 1977, 133-137; 1981-82, 20-22; Watkins-Owens 1996, 92; James 1998, 1). To show the telling impact they had in New York City at the time, Kelly Miller, Dean at Howard University, is quoted as having exclaimed "that a radical was 'an overeducated West Indian without a job'" (Walter 1981-82, 23). As step-ladder speakers or "soap boxers", these skilled orators consistently drew large street corner crowds between 137th and 138th street and Lennox Avenue in Harlem (Watkins-Owens 1996, 92-93). Amongst them was one of the most effective radicals and articulators, at the time, of the grievances of the black masses in African American history, the Jamaican Marcus Garvey, who founded "the first Negro mass movement", the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), in 1916 at the height of the Caribbean migration (Reid 1939, 147-55; Hellwig 1978, 216-19; Watkins-Owens 1996, 112-25).

Acknowledging the major and distinct role that Afro-Caribbean immigrants played in the struggle for black liberation, Reid (1939) wrote:

All in all, the presence of a foreign Negro population has broadened the social vision of the native Negro group. It has ... help[ed] speed up the very forces of aggressiveness and self-assertion in the direction that prejudice would suppress them.... The Negro immigrant is constantly seeking to procure more favourable and important places in all phases of economic living, political preferment and social status that are possible to Negroes in the United States. If in the seeking he steps on the heels of the native Negro population it is only because both groups hear the same drummer and are aligning in a common cause (Reid 1939, 231-32).

Race is not the monolithic force it once was

Out of this osmotic and, at times, "bumpy" relationship, early first-generation Afro-Caribbean immigrants began to define themselves racially as Black, (20) recognising at the time, I am sure, the strategic essentiality of a racial identity in a hostile and dominant lifeworld. As Kasinitz (1992, 7) notes, these early first-generation Afro-Caribbean immigrants and their descendants "have been disproportionately well represented among the political and economic leaders of New York's black community". As Foner (2000, 154) so succinctly puts it: "In other words, race unites West Indians and African Americans; ethnicity divides them."

A central, and indeed pertinent, question of this paper that Kasinitz (1992, 7) asks is: "[W]hy does an immigrant group play down its separate identity and merge itself within a larger category at one point in its American experience, only to choose to emphasize its cultural distinctiveness at another, much later point?" To him, the answer is not to be found solely in the increasing size of the Afro-Caribbean population in New York City, nor in the differences between the pre-1965 wave which came from small, largely agricultural colonies and the post-1965 wave which came from independent or soon-to-be independent micro-states. Instead, he argues:

[F]or all its importance, race is not the monolithic force it was when the first cohort of West Indian migrants came to political consciousness. Further, the ways in which race is defined and conceptualized, and the relative importance of African imagery (which Caribbean immigrants can share) versus traditional African-American imagery, are increasingly subject to renegotiation (Kasinitz 1992, 9).

While these assertions are indeed correct, a fundamental point, to me at least, that has often been omitted, is the nature of the social circumstances that, in and of themselves, impinge on the monolithic force of race as an essentialising medium.


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(1) As I have done elsewhere (Warner 2006), I use "Afro-Caribbean" instead of the more popular term "West Indian" to highlight the saliency of race for black immigrants from the Caribbean region in particular who reside in the United States. Here, as well, I am referring to black immigrants who came from major English-speaking Caribbean territories such as Jamaica, Trinidad, Barbados, Guyana and Belize. Thus, no attention will be given to Indian immigrants from Trinidad, Guyana and Suriname who reside in the US.

(1) "Como en otras obras (Warner 2006), uso el termino "Afrocaribeno" en lugar de la terminologia mas popular "Indio Occidental" (West Indian) para destacar la importancia de la raza de los inmigrantes negros de la region del Caribe en particular aquellos que residen en los Estados Unidos. En este trabajo, a la vez, me estoy refiriendo a inmigrantes negros que vinieron de territorios de las Antillas Mayores pertenecientes al Caribe anglofono, tales como Jamaica, Trinidad, Barbados, Guyana y Belice. Por lo tanto, no se incluyen inmigrantes indios provenientes de Trinidad, Guyana y Surinam que residen en los EE: UU."

(1) Comme etabli ailleurs (Warner 2006), nous utilisons le terme "Afro-caribeen" plutot que ceux plus populaires d'"antillais" (West Indian) pour souligner l'importance de la race pour les immigrants noirs de la region caribeenne, en particulier ceux qui resident aux Etats-Unis. Ici egalement, nous faisons reference aux immigrants noirs qui viennent des principaux territoires caribeens anglophones tels que la Jamaique, Trinidad, Barbade, le Guyana et Belize. Par consequent, cette analyse n'integre pas les immigrants indiens de Trinidad, du Guyana ou du Surinam qui resident aux Etats-Unis.

(2) Nancy Foner has extolled the virtue of the comparative perspective in the study of immigrants in her 2005 work In a New Land: A Comparative View of Immigration, New York: New York University Press, 1-7.

(3) Also, see Table 2.1 in Foner (2005, 45).

(4) According to Suttles (1972, 22), "Cognitive maps provide a set of social categories for differentiating between those people with whom one can or cannot safely associate and for defining the concrete groupings within which certain levels of social contact and social cohesion obtain."

(5) Myers and Williamson (2001, 4) call one such form of language communication, "race talk", that is " ... any talk that demeans on the basis of race or ethnicity".

(6) See Fanon (1967) and Du Bois (1990) for an analysis of the psychological damage sustained by blacks in such situations.

(7) With the rapid demographic changes to US society, an intense debate has arisen concerning the exclusionary nature of this crude binary categorisation. As Elizabeth Martinez (1993: 22) states, " ... we urgently need some fresh and fearless thinking about racism at this moment in history. Fresh thinking might begin with analyzing the strong tendency among Americans to frame racial issues in strictly Black-white terms. Do such terms make sense when changing demographics point to a U.S. population that will be 32% Latino, Asian/Pacific American, and Native American--that is, neither Black nor white--by the year 2050? Not to mention the increasing numbers of mixed people who incorporate two, three, or more 'races' or nationalities? Don't we need to imagine multiple forms of racism rather than a single, Black-white model?". Of note, mixed racial categories were included in the 2000 US census for the first time.

(8) James (1993, 239) reports that Britain shares this racial dichotomisation as well.

(9) For example, it was customary for Afro-Caribbean professionals, especially doctors and lawyers who were educated in the "mother countries" of Britain, France, and Holland, to publicly display European mores and values when they returned to their home countries. And generally, they were often thought of "as if" they were white. In conjunction, individuals with lighter skin, "soft" (meaning having "straight" and European-like) hair, and small, pointed European-like noses were, and to a large extent still are, afforded great prestige and privilege in Caribbean society. But in the United States, for blacks, such qualifications of distinction are not valorised, at most, by the white host society.

(10) While there is a great deal of discussion and debate today about the changing form of this white majority/black minority continuum with the ongoing rapid demographic changes of US society and on the various positionalities of non- white and non-black groups on this continuum (Bonilla-Silva 2004; Gold 2004), the pole positions that continue to be occupied by the white majority and the black minority are far less contestable.

(11) Afro-Caribbean immigrants in Canada also expressed having had such painful experiences (see Warner 2006).

(12) "The lifeworld is the sphere of daily life in which the symbolic structures of a society are reproduced. Symbolic structures are the language, images, meaning and culture through which members of the society communicate and reach understanding about the nature of the world and their actions in it. These symbols form the background of daily life and experience, and allow for the reproduction of society ... The lifeworld contains the norms and values of individuals and groups. It is in the lifeworld that social constructions, such as beliefs about racial differences, gender roles or personal beliefs are reproduced and guide actions, and where challenges to their legitimacy can first arise" (Clark 1994, 125-26).

(13) Even as late as the 1950s, African Americans, it is alleged, continued to see Afro-Caribbean immigrants in a negative light. For instance, many saw them as "arrogant bastards" (Walter 1981-82, 17).

(14) Noteworthy, though, despite the fact that the majority of native blacks occupied low-level and unskilled jobs, nonetheless, at that time, there was also a small African American middle class comprised of clerks, actors, actresses, musicians, music teachers, and businessmen especially those who were successful caterers (Osofsky 1971, 4-5).

(15) Foner (1987) also notes this competition over jobs, as well as housing accommodation, taking place between African Americans and Jamaican immigrants who arrived from the 1960s in New York City.

(16) Many first-generation Afro-Caribbean immigrants who entered Canada from the 1960s were also shocked by the racism and discrimination encountered there (see Warner 2006).

(17) Ethclass refers to the subsocieties created by the intersection of ethnic group and social class. Recognising that one may share a sense of peoplehood--when ethnicity is racialised for instance--with ethnic peers but behavioural traits with class peers, " ... ethnic group is the locus of a sense of historical identification, while the ethclass is the locus of a sense of participant identification" (Gordon 1964, 53).

(18) Some scholars implicitly or explicitly allude to this process by adopting the concept "cross-pressures ... because it conjures up the notion of contending forces pulling at a group" (Vickerman 1999, 5. Also, see Reid 1939; Basch 1987 cited in Vickerman 1999; Foner 2005; and Rogers 2005). And, significantly, "[i]n ethnic relations, cross-pressures have been found to splinter intragroup unity in situations where ethnic groups are engaging in conflict with other groups" (Vickerman 1999, 5 citing Fujita and O'Brien 1977). Also, see Shah (2008, 464) where he argues that: "Racializing processes in the US engender inter-minority relations that are marked by cooperation or conflict, engagement or distancing. In the context of multiple and shifting identities, cross-racial and/or cross- ethnic alliances are based on political commitments and shared interests that are contingent and situationally specific."

(19) Also, see Sherri-Ann P. Butterfield (2004). "'We're Just Black': The Racial and Ethnic Identities of Second-Generation West Indians in New York" in Becoming New Yorkers: Ethnographies of the New Second Generation, edited by Philip Kasinitz, John H. Mollenkopf, and Mary C. Waters, 288-312. New York, NY: Russell Sage.

(20) Over the years, there have been many racially motivated violent attacks by whites on blacks in New York City that catalysed black New Yorkers of diverse ethnic origins to band together as a homogenous racial group (see Foner 2000, 150-55).
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Author:Warner, Oswald
Publication:Social and Economic Studies
Date:Dec 1, 2012
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