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Photo illustration by Aaron Leaf

Donald Trump, 'Shithole' In Chief

The president is shaping immigration policy based on his petty prejudices and shocking ignorance. He should focus on the stats instead.

I've always enjoyed returning to Africa. From the coasts of Kenya to the vibrant cultural-life of Johannesburg South Africa or my visits back to verdant Nigeria, the continent is a source of great pride and solace.

If only I had known I was visiting shitholes.

On Thursday, the President of the United States of America Donald Trump in rejection of a bipartisan deal on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protects hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants from being deported, asked the question, "Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?" in reference specifically to immigrants from Haiti and Africa. This comes from somebody who thinks "Nambia" is an African nation.

The President's remarks established a new low for the country's highest office. He later attempted to retract his statements by suggesting that he never made them but admitting that his remarks were rather "tough." His words were not just tough, they were deplorable, divisive and most importantly they were racist!

The cornerstone of racism towards people of color is the belief in white superiority. By suggesting that the United States bring more people from countries such as Norway—as Trump did in the same meeting—and closing the door to immigrants from African nations he is saying that Norwegians are somehow superior to people from African nations.

While the reasoning for his statements seem baseless from the onset, let's look at the numbers anyway. We need to fight back with facts!

"Shitty" Statistics

African immigrants are some of the fastest-growing immigrant populations in the US, according to a Pew Research Center study. As of 2015, there were nearly 2.1 million people living in the U.S. born in Africa which is up from 880,000 in 2000 and only 80,000 in 1970. Despite the increases, African immigrants still make up a relatively low percentage of the total immigrant population.

A close examination of the numbers proves that Africans are in fact not "shitty" contributors to American society. The Pew Research Center has conducted a number of studies on African immigrants and the results are pretty interesting.

When compared to the total immigrant population in the US, sub-Saharan Africans were much more likely to be employed in management, business, science, and arts occupations (38 percent) and much less likely to be employed in natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations (3 percent).

The higher level of employment of Africans as skilled labor have all to do with our level of education when we arrive in this country. Sub-Saharan immigrants have much higher educational attainment compared to the overall foreign and native-born populations. As of 2013, 38 percent of sub-Saharan African immigrants had a bachelor's degree or higher compared to 28 percent of all U.S. immigrants and 30 percent of the U.S.-born population.

A Pew Research study also showed nearly 75 percent of black immigrants are proficient English speakers. African immigrants are also more proficient in English than the overall U.S. immigrant population.

Sub-Saharan Africans participated in the labor force at a higher rate than the overall immigrant and U.S.-born populations. In 2015, about 75 percent of sub-Saharan immigrants (ages 16 and over) were in the civilian labor force, compared to 66 percent and 62 percent of the overall foreign- and native-born populations, respectively.

Over 80 percent of black immigrants live in a family household, comparatively about 60 percent of all Americans. Among all US immigrants, 64 percent lived in a married couple household.

So let's get this straight, African immigrants are well educated, speak English, are typically employed and live in family units, and are more likely to pledge their allegiance to America yet somehow we are the product of "shithole" countries. "Shitholes" that just happen to produce stellar citizenry.

The Global Impact

The words of President Trump aren't inconsequential to be dismissed as harmless banter or Trump just being Trump. These words promote Xenophobia which leads to the continued mistreatment of Africans not just in the US but around the world. They have impact on how policies are shaped.

Africans both in the US and abroad have long been mischaracterized and stereotyped by media resulting in African immigrants facing continued discrimination across the globe. In 2013 it came out that approximately 130,000 Ethiopian women immigrating to Israel were forcibly sterilized with injectable contraception.

African immigrants group in France are frequently treated to random ID checks and searches by the police, some of these checks result in African immigrants being taken in custody, often with fatal consequences.

African students in India have been repeatedly beaten and killed and these attacks show no sign of decreasing.

Notions like those expressed by the President continue to embolden groups that are determined to express their hatred and disdain for Africans with violence.

It is also noteworthy to highlight the fact that black people from "shithole" nations have contributed well over 300 years of free labor to the United States, building The White House, railroads, Wall Street and more, while contributing to the economic prosperity of America by working those cotton and sugar fields.

In his role as president, Donald Trump has managed to find ever-increasing ways to promote hatred and racism. The result is a disaster for everyone.

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via C-SPAN

Op Ed: In Defense of the Black Boogeyman

What the disciplining of Ilhan Omar tells us about anti-semitism and black dissent in America

American congresswoman Ilhan Omar, is being accused of anti-semitism after tweeting criticism of pro-Israel lobbyists last week and saying that American support for Israel is "all about the Benjamins." While this brought on criticism from the Democratic Party and many members of the Jewish community, many other members of the Jewish community and others on the left argue that she did little wrong.

Most galling, perhaps, have been the calls for Omar's resignation from Congress by members of the Republican Party who, somehow are claiming the moral high ground on anti-semitism despite offering a welcome home to unrepentantly racist president, Klan members, neo-Nazi sympathizers, and virulently anti-semitic ideologies and individuals alike.

But the storm around Omar's questionably worded but not factually incorrect tweet about the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and the American right wing's financial influence on political activity has been particularly disconcerting. And it's because of the long standing trend of demonizing and very publicly punishing Black dissent, particularly as it relates to Black people speaking in public support of Palestinians.

There has been a recent trend that positions Black people as "the new face of anti-semitism." This accusation is relatively far-reaching, from crassly accusing Black Jews of wearing "Jewface" for speaking about anti-blackness and erasure within Jewish communities to Tamika Mallory's refusal to denounce Louis Farrakhan to Alice Walker's unfortunate endorsement of anti-semitic conspiracy theorist David Icke to any one of the hip-hop lyrics that include some variation on "Jewish money." It should go without saying anti-semitism is condemnable from any and everyone, even other racialized people. And in reactively careening from one incident to the next without anchoring in analyses of power, we fail to recognize distinctions between anti-semitism from Black people and from whites. And so we remain unsuccessful in properly combating either.

James Baldwin wrote: "In the American context, the most ironical thing about Negro anti-Semitism is that the Negro is really condemning the Jew for having become an American white man." The adoption of harmful anti-semitic stereotypes that have become a feature of Black colloquialisms (because they are so prevalent in the broader American psyche) is a product of Black misunderstandings of race and white identity: of incorrectly believing the white skin of many Jewish people protects their communities from racial violence and discriminations even as it does afford other social benefits.

A refusal to animate the Black boogeyman at the center of right-wing political imaginations is an affirmation of our commitment to social justice.

And so while Farrakhan is a contemptible individual who remains unfortunately relevant, his vile and unapologetic anti-semitic language cannot be positioned as functionally equivalent to, for example, the unconscionable acts of racial terror at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. In that case, the murderer, Robert Gregory Bowers, was explicitly motivated by conspiracy theories about a mythological white genocide in the United States, a myth that has managed to migrate to this country from South Africa. Bowers' suspicions were affirmed, apparently, by the synagogue's participation in the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society and support for the large group of Central American migrants traveling northward to seek asylum in this country. "HIAS likes to bring invaders in that kill our people. I can't sit by and watch my people get slaughtered," he wrote online before his own acts of murder.

The collapsing of support for Palestine into a broad hatred of Jewish people (and the racist use of the state of Israel as a proxy for the Jewish diaspora) has been deliberate. This is a political conflation that is championed most prominently by the Christian right whose concern for Israel is driven by geopolitical and religious motivations rather than any kind of actual concern for the safety and well-being of Jewish communities. There is also a deliberate isolation of support for Palestine from broader oppositions to far-right nationalism, racism, and [settler] colonialism in reducing Israel/Palestine to a single nation-state issue. Anti-semitism and anti-blackness are linked to one another through violent Christianity and European colonialism that constantly seek to "other" communities based on some essential racial identity. It is nonsensical to oppose one without vehemently opposing the other because, as Frantz Fanon wrote: "The anti-semite is inevitably a negrophobe."

The dragging of Omar is situated into a broader international right-wing strategy of fracturing whatever exists of a political left by playing on reactions to her tweet's language, as well as her positions on Palestine and Venezuela. During a meeting for the House Foreign Affairs committee (of which she is a member), Omar relentlessly pressed Elliot Abrams, America's special envoy to Venezuela, on his record of supporting interventionist foreign policy in a way that was uncharacteristically brave by Democratic Party standards.

Abrams previously served as Assistant Secretary of State in the Reagan administration, and during his tenure, facilitated and covered up US-sponsored mass atrocities in Guatemala, Nicaragua, and El Salvador. His name has become a synonym with bloody regime change in Latin America.

American public politics revolves heavily (but not exclusively) around an idea of citizenship that excludes and criminalizes Black people. It invites people to participate in our public disciplining and Omar's Somali, Black Muslim, and refugee identities make her a beautiful target for bipartisan political point-scoring.

Because our politics are not proactive, international, and liberatory in nature, the weak American left is constantly goaded into political arguments on the right's terms. A refusal to animate the Black boogeyman at the center of right-wing political imaginations is an affirmation of our commitment to social justice. It is a commitment to the possibility of a just world that has not yet been foreclosed, a world where the safety and self-determination of Palestinians, Afro-diasporans, Muslims, and Jewish people are not at odds with one another.

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Dear Kanye West: Why stop at slavery? Let's talk about how South Africans chose Apartheid.

An open letter to Kanye West from a South African

I live in South Africa, in the city of Johannesburg to be specific. And while I've never stepped foot in the United States, never attended a Kanye West concert or spotted him strolling down the street with his entourage, I have met him in other forms. I have met him in my white South African colleagues who believe that people like me choose to be poor. We choose to be domestic workers, gardeners and car guards. We choose to live in shacks made out of scrap materials that get washed away because of periodic floods.We choose to live like animals. We choose to live undignified lives filled with immeasurable strife.

You see, my white colleagues have the luxury of privilege. Privilege is a funny thing. Like a horse wearing blinkers, all privilege sees is a woman washing dishes because surely that is her only aspiration in life. Privilege sits pretty, comfortable and self-righteous when black students are being shot at by police for fighting for their right to affordable tertiary education. Privilege says 'I can do it better' but never actually gets to doing anything at all.

See Kanye, I have met you already. You are privilege, and so yes, you get to choose. But what you refuse to acknowledge is that the rest of us don't.

I don't shy away from controversy. I espouse the notion of free thought because Aristotle once said that it is the mark of an educated man to entertain a thought without accepting it. I've learnt that there are real repercussions to something as routine as thinking because more often than not, our thoughts encourage action. And because of that, I espouse humanity above all else.

Kanye's recent comments and thoughts are not unique. They are not original and neither are they free.

A few weeks ago, South Africa laid to rest Mam' Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. She was a radical stalwart who fought alongside many other comrades in the struggle against the murderous and segregationist Apartheid regime. If she could have chosen a life that did not involve being woken up at all hours of the day by the police, forcibly removed from her home, taken away from her children, tortured, raped and then betrayed by the very people for whom she fought to liberate, I am sure she would have chosen differently. Her late ex-husband, the iconic Nelson Mandela, went through much the same. He sat for close to three decades in a cell on an island, working endlessly in a lime quarry because he believed that the black man ought to be equal to the white man. If he'd had the opportunity, I'm sure he would not have chosen that fate for himself. What of Hector Pieterson, the 13-year-old boy who died in the Soweto uprisings of 1976 fighting for the right to learn in a language he could actually understand? Would he not have chosen differently had he had the choice?

Apartheid was a white supremacist system that I can assure you, was not a result of black people choosing indignity, displacement, dehumanisation and death. It still saddens me to this day, that there are many black South Africans that died not knowing that Apartheid, by law, would eventually be abolished. They worked tirelessly for a freedom they did not even live to realise. While Apartheid lasted for forty decades and slavery, four centuries, an alarming sentiment seems to be emerging in light of Kanye's comments: surely if black people 'allowed' slavery to continue for a whole 400 years, it was only because black people had chosen to be enslaved for that long. We illogically conclude that black people were just too nonchalant, too lazy to free themselves. We ask why black people had the audacity to permit slavery to go on for centuries instead of questioning why slavery happened in the first place. Why the fuck are we not asking ourselves why Europeans chose to pillage, rape and murder entire nations all in the name of "discovery and exploration?"

Kanye's recent comments and thoughts are not unique. They are not original and neither are they free. Perhaps that's the most painfully ironic part to all this. In his attempt to be a revolutionary free thinker, he has only managed to become a copy of the original manuscript written eons ago that sought to produce mindsets just like his.

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Still from RTN TV's YouTube page.

Prominent Somali Activist Almaas Elman Shot and Killed In Mogadhisu

The organizer and sister of Nobel Peace Prize-nominated activist Ilwad Elman, was shot dead while riding in a car on Wednesday.

Almaas Elman, a prominent Somali rights activist and organizer was killed today in Mogadishu. She died after being hit by a bullet while riding inside of a car in the Halane compound, reports the Somali news site Hiiraan.

Though details surrounding her death remain uncertain, according to security on the ground Elman "was riding in a car along a road inside the airport," Mohamed Omar, a Somali security official told News 24. "A stray bullet hit her, and she died within a few minutes." The complex is also the headquarters of African Union soldiers.

She was believed to been heading to the airport after attending a meeting at the Elman Peace Centre, which was founded by her father, the respected Somali activist Elman Ali Ahmed, who was assasinated in Mogadishu in 1996.

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Simi in "Selense" (Youtube)

The 11 Songs You Need to Hear This Week

Featuring Burna Boy, Tiwa Savage, Kwesta x Rich Homie Quan, Simi, Teni, Khuli Chana, Mr Eazi x Tyga and more

Every week, we highlight the cream of the crop in music through our Best Music of the Week column.

Here's our round up of the best tracks and music videos that came across our desks, which you can also check out in our Songs You Need to Hear This Week playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.

Follow our SONGS YOU NEED TO HEAR THIS WEEK playlist on Spotify here and Apple Music here.

Check out all of OkayAfrica's new playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.

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