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Conference sheds new light on Black immigrant experience

Organizers push unity for immigration rights

Chloe Herring | 5/29/2014, 9 a.m.
It was the opening day of a national conference hosted by the Black Immigration Network (BIN). Aly Wane, 37, an ...
In a session called African Diaspora Dialogues Black people representing various countries in the Diaspora share their experiences. Photo by Chloe Herring

But before BIN can accomplish unity, Oso said a conversation discussing themes separate from the U.S. civil rights movement must take place.

“If I can’t see myself in the story you’re telling, how can I join you in the fight?” she said. “When conversations about achieving equality and social justice are American-centric it isolates Black people who don’t fit into the context of U.S. history.”

Oso opened up the BIN conference with the African Diaspora Dialogues session to provide a space for participants to share their experiences with identity, resilience, fighting oppression and colonialism.

In Wane’s group, the four individuals spoke about white colleagues who tried to separate them from “other Blacks,” a term they found unfortunate for its reference to stereotypes. The Asian woman shared her experience as a Cambodian.

“There’s a hierarchy in the Asian community,” she said, explaining how she was treated as inferior because Cambodians are considered Black Asians.

“I think the discussion went very well. It’s really important to do some sharing and connecting,” said Oso. “It’s going to build a really solid foundation for us to build power this weekend.”

The BIN conference continued through Sunday, May 25 and included presentations, panel discussions and strategy sessions educating attendees about immigrant issues in an effort to create a network of undivided organizers.