United States President, Donald J. Trump, expressed his disdain for immigrations from Haiti, El Salvador and African countries, which he called "shithole countries" and, in the same line, expressed his delightful preference for immigrants from the Kingdom of Norway. (Illustration: David K. Golayah)
The United States of America (USA) is unquestionably a very friendly country to most, if not all, African nations. There is a US embassy in most African capitals, and scores of African Heads of State and Government have been invited to the White House. And many US Presidents and Vice Presidents have visited Africa.
But all this may be a thing of the past, considering who currently occupies the Oval Office--President Donald Trump--who has gone out of his way to prove that he is a racist, a white supremacist and one who simply does not like people of color, especially the people of Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.
During a meeting in the Oval Office last week, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and Democratic Senator Dick Durbin presented Trump with a plan that would cut the current visa lottery program and reallocate some of those slots to immigrants from troubled places like Haiti, El Salvador and other African nations, including Liberia, whose citizens have been granted Temporary Protective Status (TPS) in the USA. The Administration has recently begun cancelling the TPS of several immigrant groups--most recently Salvadorans. But President Trump became enraged with the mention of Haitians and Africans. That is when the US President viciously erupted, portraying himself as an inborn hater of Blacks and Hispanic: "Why," he demanded in his outburst, "are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?" And to underscore his racist instincts, he added, "The United States should admit more people from places like Norway."
Trump's outrageous remark shocked and embarrassed many Americans and the American media. Republican and Democratic Congressmen who participated in the meeting were the first to reach the press to report Trump's racist outburst. Senator Dick Durbin described Trump's remark as "hate-filled, vile and racist."
And talk show hosts throughout the US media immediately began blasting their President, recalling Trump's defense of a group of white supremacists who in August 2017 screamed racial, ethnic and misogynistic (hateful) epithets (labels) at Black protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia.
President Trump's remark has drawn worldwide condemnation. A United Nations spokesman condemned President Trump's "racist remark," while African leaders, including Ghana's President Nana Akuffo-Addo, added their condemnations. The African Union on Saturday called for a retraction and an apology to Africa and the other affected regions.
In their comments rejecting what they called President Trump's "back-handed compliment," many in Norway, including its Prime Minister Ema Solberg, who had visited the White House just before Trump made his racist remark, told the US leader: "Thanks, but no thanks." They said President Trump lacks an understanding of what is happening in the African, Haitian and Latin American nations he attacked.
Indeed he does not understand what is happening in these countries; nor does President Trump comprehend what is happening in his own country. The US immigrant population from sub-Saharan Africa (49 countries with a total population of 1.1 billion) grew from 723,000 to more than 1.7 million between 2010 and 2015, according to a report by the New Americn Economy, a Washington-based research and advocacy group. Still, African immigrants make up just half a percent of the US population.
President Trump, who grew up in New York, should know what is written on the Statue of Liberty, declaring the USA an immigrant country, which indeed it is. But Trump, true to his racist instincts, has also called for change in the wordings on the Statue of Liberty!
Jeanne Batalova, senior policy analyst, the Migration Policy Institute think tank in Washington and co-author of a report last year on sub-Saharan African immigrants in the U.S.A, reported that of the 1.4 million who are 25 and older, 41% have a bachelor's degree, compared to 30% of all immigrants and 32% of the U.S.-born population. Of the 19,000 immigrants from Norway -- a country Trump told lawmakers is a good source of immigrants -- 38% have college education.
The New American Economy study found that 1 in 3 of African undergraduate degrees were focused on science, technology, engineering and math -- "training heavily in demand by today's employers."
That report also found that African immigrants were significantly more likely to have graduate degrees. A total of 16% had a master's degree, medical degree, law degree or a doctorate, compared to 11% of the U.S.-born population, according to Andrew Lim, associate director of research at New American Economy.
There are more than 32,500 African immigrants in nursing, psychiatric or home health aides, more than 46,000 registered nurses and more than 15,700 African doctors and surgeons in the USA.
"Overwhelmingly the evidence shows that African immigrants make a significant, positive economic contribution to the U.S. economy," both at a national level and in districts where they are concentrated, Lim said. "They contribute more than $10.1 billion in federal taxes, $4.7 billion in state and local taxes, and most importantly, they have significant economic clout to the point of $40.3 billion in spending power."
Does President Trump know anything about these facts? Did he truly not know that among African immigrants to the USA, a total of 16% had master's degrees, medical degrees, law degrees or doctorates, compared to 11% of the US-born population?
Take a small African country like Liberia, for example. Does President Trump know that several Liberian heart surgeons, including Dr. Jerome Ngangana, are serving Americans with heart disease? Has President Trump ever heard of Dr. Dougbeh Nyan, another young Liberian scientist, an outstanding staff of the National Institutes of Health in Maryland, has developed a diagnostic product to singlehandedly and rapidly detect a range of infectious diseases, including typhoid, Ebola, hepatitis and malaria?
Did President Trump realize that a Liberian neurosurgeon, Dr. Amos Zumo, is on the staff at Walter Reed, where Trump did his physical checkup last weekend?
Does President Trump know that right there in his own hometown, New York City, two Liberian classmates from Babson College near Boston, Richelieu Dennis, Jr. and Nyema Tubman, after graduation 25 years ago, went back to New York City to start their cosmetics, skin and hair care products business and are today multimillionaires?
In addition, does President Trump know that one of the partners, Richelieu Dennis, Jr., recently bought the major American fashion magazine, Essence, catering primarily to tens of millions of African and African-American women?
What happened in the White House last week is a wake-up call to the Congress, and to all Americans. That is all we can say for now.
In our next Editorial, we will deal with our African leaders, many of whose terrible leadership has given ground to sentiments by the likes of President Trump.