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168 Chapter Seven Putting It All Together: West Indian Immigrants I have to say, Joe, you’re a sight made me rub my eyes. A coloured man in a British uniform. You’re British, you say? —Levy (2004, 131) Race was important [in Jamaica] but not on a day to day basis. The difference I find is that when you get to America, you have to start thinking about race when you walk into the store. —Vickerman (1999, 95) Before I came here I used to be Jamaican. But now I’m West Indian. —Waters (1999a, 57) Look ‘ere, missus. I am Guyanese and will be to the day I die. Even though me grow up in America, I know what I am. —Butterfield (2004, 294) I HAVE OFFERED a framework for the psychological analysis of immigration. Beginning with the broad stage of policies and demography and then moving to the more focused interpersonal conditions of stereotypes and discrimination , I have tried to depict the social-political space in which immigrants move. Throughout, I have drawn examples from a variety of ethnic and national groups, circumstances and histories, to exemplify the processes that are at work. Here I sharpen the focus to a particular group of immigrants, namely black immigrants from the Caribbean, using the previously introduced framework to describe various levels of analysis (see figure 7.1). Although I make reference to historical patterns of Caribbean immigration, my analysis is based primarily on the contemporary case. Similarly, though I make some comparisons with Great Britain and Canada, the focus is primarily on immigration to the United States, the majority of which, even further narrowing the lens, is to New York City. Through this analysis of a particular case of immigration, it is possible to see more clearly the kinds of interrelationships that exist between Putting It All Together 169 Figure 7.1 Elements of an Immigration Analysis as Applied to Afro-Caribbeans Source: Adapted from Pettigrew (1997). Macro: Social Structures National policy on Caribbean immigration Emigration patterns from the Caribbean Social representations of race Meso: Social Interactions Stereotypes of black immigrants and black Americans Discriminatory treatment Interactions with other minority and majority groups Micro: Individuals Ethnic identification Identity negotiations Beliefs about equality and diversity 170 To Be an Immigrant immigrants and their context, as well as the dynamics of the immigrant experience—one in which both person and environment (a classic Lewinian formula) must be considered conjointly. These dynamics will not operate in the same way for all immigrant groups—but by focusing on a particular case, the character and complexities of the process should be illuminated. IMMIGRATION POLICY AND DEMOGRAPHIC PATTERNS West Indian migration to the United States can be divided into three periods that correspond to those defined in chapter 2: 1900 to 1924, 1924 to 1965, and 1965 to the present (Kasinitz 1992). Immigration from the Caribbean began around 1900. By the early 1920s, somewhere between 5,000 and 8,000 immigrants were arriving in the United States from that region each year. By the time of the 1930 census, the proportion of first- and second-generation black immigrants to the total population of blacks in the United States was approximately 1.5 percent (Kasinitz 1992). In New York City at that time, West Indians accounted for 25 percent of the city’s black population (Kasinitz 2001). Black immigration rose much more slowly between 1930 and 1965, as did immigration overall. One reason was the Immigration Act of 1924 (see chapter 2). Although the quota system that was part of that legislation did not set quotas for the Western Hemisphere (Isbister 1996), the overall cap on immigration dampened Caribbean immigration as well. Subsequently, the economic depression made the United States a less attractive destination and, in fact, from 1932 to 1937 more West Indian immigrants returned to the Caribbean than entered the United States (Kasinitz 1992; Massey 1995). Some continued to migrate to the United States, however, many using British passports to allow them to come in under the British quota, but this colonial loophole was eliminated in a 1952 act of Congress (DeLaet 2000). One consequence was a shift in Caribbean immigration patterns, such that many Caribbean people chose to emigrate to Great Britain, where the war had created labor shortages that immigration could resolve(Kasinitz 1992). Others began to move to Canada, which in 1955 lifted its ban on “coloured or partly coloured persons” (Gilkes 2004). In the mid-1960s, these patterns...


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