Blackness and the Changing Face of the African Diaspora in the US
A Dialogue between Wendy Wilson-Fall and Trina Jackson
On the evening of February 26, 2016, WARA hosted its annual Black History Month program at the Howard Thurman Center for Common Ground at Boston University. This year, thanks to a generous grant from the Boston Cultural Council, WARA was pleased to present a dialogue between two exceptional women: WARA board president Wendy Wilson-Fall and scholar-activist, Trina Jackson.
The topic of their discussion was the changing face of the African diaspora in the US and the challenges that these changes pose. This searching and provocative discussion was attended by more than 50 people, including members of the African American communities of Boston, recent immigrants from Africa, and first generation African immigrants. A video of the program is available on WARA’s youtube channel.
Since the 1960s and the rollback of racially based immigration laws, the proportion of the Black US population that was born in Africa or whose parents or grandparents were, has grown enormously. Along with waves of immigration from the Caribbean, these new African Americans are changing what ‘being black’ in the United States might signify. What has this meant for the older African Diaspora community in the United States? How has this influx of ‘new Africans’ changed the dynamics within and between communities in the US and on the African continent? How is it different from earlier arrivals of ‘new Africans?’
The discussion following the dialogue was lively and included a spoken word presentation by Leonard Tshitenge of Africans in Boston, one of the event’s co-sponsors. Also co-sponsoring were the BU African American Studies Program, the BU African Studies Center, and the BU African Students Organization.
The Speakers: A graduate of Goddard College, Trina Jackson co-coordinates the Network of Immigrant and African American Solidarity (NIAAS), a grassroots community organization that seeks to build solidarity between African Americans and immigrants of color. She is also the Program Coordinator of the Inclusion Initiative, a program of Third Sector New England, which supports cross-sector networks in communities of color to address root cuses of poverty and economic inequality. Trina is also a mixed media artist, writer, gardener, and nature photographer.
A graduate of Howard University, Wendy Wilson Fall is Associate Professor and Program Chair of the Africana Studies Program at Lafayette College. Her new book, Memories of Madagascar and Slavery in the Black Atlantic, explores African American family narratives about Madagascar. Her research engages questions of socio-cultural change, ethnic identity, and multi-focal historical narratives. She is currently working on a book entitled A Negro Handbook for West Africans and Other Strangers. Wilson-Fall is also a painter and visual artist.
Photo: (l to r) WARA Associate Director, Cynthia Ezeani; speakers Trina Jackson and Wendy Wilson-Fall; and WARA Director, Jennifer Yanco
This program was supported in part by a grant from the Boston Cultural Council, a local agency which is funded by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, administrated by the Mayor’s office of Arts, Tourism and Special Events