In the five-year period ending in 2005, the number of African-born immigrants living in central Harlem increased by two-thirds, to about 6,500, nearly a sixth of them from French-speaking Senegal. Along with soft drinks and toothpaste, bodegas and delis carry items like an African bleaching cream used to lighten the skin, a malted milk beverage called Nestle Milo that is popular in West Africa, and cans of egusi, melon seeds that are the base of a pungent soup laden with vegetables.

Do African immigrants make the smartest Americans? The question may sound outlandish, but if you were judging by statistics alone, you could find plenty of evidence to back it up. In a side-by-side comparison of 2000 census data by sociologists including John R. Logan at the Mumford Center, State University of New York at Albany, black immigrants from Africa averaged the highest educational attainment of any population group in the country, including whites and Asians.

The embattled communities are operating in an environment of relative isolation from one another, and there is a considerable distance between whites, blacks, Latinos, and others in this city that preclude the realization that we share a common humanity, and that it is in the interest of all of us to struggle against the usurpation of our power by powerful groups in domestic politics and to resist policies that are harmful to our individual and collective well-being. We should also support policies that work to our advantage. One step in this direction is that the Diallo case appears to have galvanized many to look beyond the politics of color and attempt to build coalitions that demand accountability from our public officials.

While scholars have identified a variety of push and pull factors that stimulate or generate migration and immigration, African Immigration to the United States is ignored in immigration studies literature. A variety of economic, political, and social factors are identified as responsible for immigration (Horowitz, 1992; Watkins-Owens, 1996; Fuchs, 1992; Weiner, 1992; Logan, 1992). These factors also generate the movement of African immigrants to the United States. Like other immigrants, they need to gain access to better economic opportunities, to escape from political turmoil, and to seek refuge from all manner of persecution . When African immigrants establish footholds in the informal economy, they are playing out a very old story that has been seen ever since immigrants started coming to the United States from other lands. When they flee repressive governments, hunger, natural disasters, and want, they also replay a very old story. Yet, this tells us nothing about what both separates and encompasses African immigration to the United States from other peoples' immigration.

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