Waves of immigrants isolating black community

By Greg Gelpi

Waves of immigration are sweeping over the nation and isolating the black community, a speaker said Tuesday.

David Goldfield spoke at Clayton College & State University about the effects of Asian and Hispanic immigration on the country, specifically on the black community.

If trends continue, whites will make up less than 50 percent of the American population, and the Hispanic population will surpass the black population, Goldfield said. Currently, whites make up 69 percent of the population, blacks 13 percent, Hispanics 12.7 percent and Asians 4 percent.

As of 2002, Clayton County was about 57 percent black, 29 percent white, 9 percent Hispanic and 5 percent other non-white races like Asians, according to the Cooperative Extension Service of the University of Georgia. The county was just less than 7 percent black in 1980 and became about 24 percent black by 1990.

Ethnic grocery stores and specialty stores are popping up in Riverdale and Forest Park more often to meet the needs of growing Asian and Hispanic populations, Clayton State assistant professor of history Kathryn Kemp said.

"Our region is reflecting what is happening as a nation at large," Kemp said.

The black and white color line was the problem of the 20th century, but in the new century the problem is "how to write African Americans into the national story," Goldfield said.

"Rather than looking at Africans as a separate group, we need to look at them as an Afro-European group," Goldfield said. "I know that is not very popular in labeling politics. We need to look at Africans as part of the founding fathers."

Other races have a high "out-marriage" rate, meaning that people from within the race marry outside their race, he said. Black Americans do not have a high "out-marriage" rate.

"That is the most complete way to Americanization," Goldfield said.

About a third of Hispanics today intermarry, he said. Less than 10 percent of blacks do.

While immigrants make inroads into the community, blacks continually grow more isolated, he said.

He recalled the Ku Klux Klan marching against the hiring of immigrant workers last year in Charlotte.

"It was interesting seeing that going along with them were black citizens," Goldfield said. "Nativism, that anti-immigration sentiment, has definitely emerged."

In his research he found African immigrants who owned apartments in Harlem in New York City not wanting to rent apartments to blacks who were born in America.

Goldfield said that unlike the two previous waves of immigration, this influx is coming from two ethnic groups n Hispanic and Asian.

Since the Civil War, the South has been defined in terms of black and white, Goldfield said. The racial divide permeated the Southern culture and was seen in every facet of life.

The introduction of large groups of Asians and Hispanics is altering the landscape of the South, he said.

In 2002, 51 percent of legal immigrants come from Latin America and 27 percent came from Asia.

Goldfield said that both Democrats and Republicans acknowledged the prominence of the Hispanic community by addressing the country in Spanish for their weekly radio address on May 5, 2001, the first time the parties have done that.