RCUSA staff look forward from Black History Month 2022

Blog & Stories
March 1, 2022

Washington, DC – Immigration is a Black issue. Undoing anti-Blackness is an immigration issue. Whether targeted by policies directly, or by disparate enforcement, Black immigrants are forced to reckon with US anti-Blackness. But anti-Blackness in immigration cannot be solved by creating better policy alone, this is a systemic issue – present in the communities that will welcome, among prospective employers, even in the organizations striving for the creation of more equitable policy.

In 2020, the murders of George Floyd, Tony McDade, and Breonna Taylor renewed country-wide protests in support of Black lives, making Black Lives Matter one of the largest protest movements in US history. Individuals, organizations, and corporations hustled to issue statements in solidarity. Yet statements of solidarity mean little beyond performance if they are not met with resources, and concrete actions to create explicitly anti-racist communities, work places, and policies.

RCUSA staff offer their reflections on Black History Month, and their dedication to center dismantling anti-Blackness and centering Black immigrant experiences year round.

“Decisions regarding who gets to move from one part of the world to another – and under what circumstances – are strongly influenced by racialized global hierarchies of power and privilege, said John Slocum, Interim Executive Director. “This unjustly constrains the mobility options and life chances of Black immigrants and refugees. Recognizing the influence of anti-Blackness on immigration and refugee policy and practices is the starting point; doing something about it is the necessary next step.”

“Black immigrants contribute so much to America’s growth, diversity, democracy, scientific and technological advancements, and economic prosperity,” said Director of Policy and Practice Taif Jany. “Unfortunately, Black immigrants continue to bear the brunt of not only our broken immigration system, but also the systemic discrimination that continues to scrutinize and target Black Americans nationwide. Black immigrants deserve equal opportunity to seek protection, access services, and be united with their families and loved ones.”

“Global anti-Blackness has been on full display this week as Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine,” said Director of Advocacy and Communications Sarah Seniuk. “And it’s being highlighted in all its most pernicious forms: from Black Ukrainians and other Black immigrants in Ukraine being blocked at borders as they pursue safety, to the abundantly racist commentary from political and media pundits, to the inescapably racially-influenced response of the global community to this conflict. Haitians, Tigrayans, Cameroonians, and all Black migrants deserve equal support. Black lives, Black safety, Black thriving is essential.”

“Black History Month is a time of reflection on how we can combat anti-Blackness in our own communities and on a global stage,” said Program Associate Emily Wood. “We must create immigration policy that strives toward reversing generations of inherently racist policies to create a space that is safe and supportive for Black immigrants.”

Media contact: Sarah Seniuk, sseniuk@rcusa.org