Capitol Hill

American Meritocracy? Despite African Academic Achievements, Black Immigrants Face High Unemployment.

New York, NY 01/14/2018

Kenyan Scientists
Scientists in a Nairobi Lab

I am a credentialed White House Correspondent, and as far as I’m aware, the only African WH correspondent. Grad school educated at the London School of Economics, I obtained my White House credentials while still navigating the complex US immigration system, with my work permit briefly expiring soon after I became credentialed. This prompted the US secret service to briefly bar me from attending press briefings at the White House.

I’m from Kenya, the country that gave us some of Africa’s most famous exports including long distance runners such as Kipchoge Keino among countless others, Lupita Nyon’go, and the 44th President of the United States (POTUS), Barack Obama. His father, the late Barack Obama Sr. who was Kenyan, makes the 44th POTUS a natural born Kenyan, entitled to a Kenyan passport if he were to desire one.

Most Kenyan immigrants I know are college educated and many are grad school educated just as the stats show. An overwhelming majority are medics, working as Community Nursing Assistants, Registered Nurses, Nurse Practitioners, Doctors, Pharmacists and lab techs, taking care of America’s aging population. Practically all the Kenyans I know in the New York area are Wall Street Analysts working for investment banks or consulting firms, as I myself was before turning full time to journalism.

My anecdotal experience is backed up by the research which shows that African immigrants are by far some of the highest educated of all demographics in the US at levels far higher than ANY other demographic, period. According to the US Census Bureau report 2008 – 2012, of the 1.6M African born immigrants to the US 41% had a bachelor’s degree compared to 28% of the overall US population. Some of the highest levels of college educated Africans include Egyptians at 64%, Nigerians at 61%, South Africans at 57%, Kenyans at 47% and Ghanaians at 35%.

Unfortunately, these high levels of educational achievement do not reflect similarly high rates of career rewards as one would expect in the meritocracy that everyone imagines the US to be. A 2010 Economic Policy Institute study found that black immigrants still faced the highest levels of workplace discrimination carrying the highest levels of unemployment across all nationalities and ethnic groups in the US.

Therefore if indeed 45’s new immigration policy was to follow a new merit based system, then in fact, Africans would be at the top of the list of new immigrants to the United States, led by the very high Moslem populations of Egyptians and Nigerians. Don’t tell me god doesn’t have a sense of humor. Won’t he do it?!

Apparently not, if you ask the 45th POTUS, to whom we shall refer simply as 45. According to attendees at a White House meeting last week, 45 prefers an immigration policy that favors the blonde, blue eyed people of Norway. Sound familiar? Well, the White House will have to find a new term for its preferred immigration stance because a “merit based” system would certainly favor an influx of African immigrants who are highly under represented among immigrants to the United States anyway. A race based immigration policy would be a more accurate term if intellectual honesty was to be pursued.

It is also worth delving into the dire economic realities of the countries that we come from. Our economies are chugging along with Nigeria, Kenya, Egypt and South Africa among the top emerging global economies. Africa in general is currently recording the highest rates of economic growth among all global economies.

This is despite the highly egregious, and arguably illegal, unfair trade policies of the west. Western customer countries dictate the prices they will pay for ALL products except oil which is the only raw material whose price is set by the oil producer countries of OPEC rather than by the buyers. In addition to not having control of any commodity prices, African countries, particularly in the francophone world signed highly dubious treaties with France for the purchase of self-rule, as did Haiti, leading to huge amounts of “foreign debt” to the tune of billions of dollars that continue to be paid to France to this very day in 2018. Many treaties signed by former British colonies that still govern trade across Africa today were hastily signed by colonial governors just before granting independence to these countries. This was obviously for the purpose of locking in economic advantages for the British crown for centuries after the official end of colonialism.

The United States stepped right in with these same unfair trading policies immediately after the end of the colonial era and has continued those same unfair policies till today under a carrot and stick system of bribes and blackmail, leveraged by US economic and military might! In short, the economic policies, not to mention, American initiated wars have devastated many of the economies so maligned by 45 in his comments about Africa and the Caribbean.

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