Washington Post: We’ve erased Black immigrants from our story, obscuring a racist system

We see our history of racism against Black Americans as distinct from our immigration policy, but the two are deeply intertwined.

Black History Month is an important time to consider the deep roots of racism and inequality in the United States and to highlight the power of the long — and continuing — struggles for civil rights and freedom. But seldom do we consider how the U.S. treatment of immigrants is part of this story. While American mythology paints the United States as a “nation of immigrants,” the United States has tended to lionize and welcome mostly White immigrants.

The erasure of Black immigrants from our history has allowed a whitewashed version of this history to endure. This has enabled U.S. officials to treat Black immigrants from Africa and the Americas as illegitimate — as temporary workers rather than permanent immigrants, as economic migrants rather than asylum seekers or as people whose very presence has been criminalized.

Policies of inclusion — like the Diversity Visa lottery — are rare but significant because they cut against such long-standing erasure and exclusion. They also point to how the struggles for immigrant rights and for Black freedom are interconnected.

Read more at washingtonpost.com.