Posted on March 31, 2011

How Has American Identity Changed?

PhysOrg, March 30, 2011

First-generation West African immigrants from Nigeria and Ghana transition smoothly into major societal institutions, such as the workplace and the neighborhood, but have not built stable, mutually beneficial friendships and intimate relationships with native-born Americans, said Northeastern University professor Mindelyn Buford II.

Speaking at an interdisciplinary conference, “American Identity in the Age of Obama,” held last week at Northeastern, the assistant professor of sociology and African-American studies noted that Nigerian and Ghanaian immigrants “exhibit patterns of selective acculturation.”


“There’s not an easy answer to what aspects of American identity have or have not changed since Obama was elected,” said political science professor Amilcar Barreto, associate director of the Humanities Center. “It’s possible that any change is slow in terms of accepting members of traditionally marginalized groups in society.”

Buford analyzed the socioeconomic and interpersonal assimilation patterns of 45 Nigerian and Ghanaian immigrants who migrated to Maryland, many of whom sought better jobs and educational opportunities. She is conducting the research for a book on how class and race shape highly educated, foreign-born black immigrants’ assimilation trajectories in the United States.


The majority of participants, Buford said, enjoyed their experiences in the workplace and in the neighborhood, but seldom developed close relationships with their co-workers or neighbors. More often than not, for example, Nigerian and Ghanaian immigrants developed formal work relationships that “did not tend to extend outside of the workplace and work hours.”

“Patterns of integration or isolation among these new immigrants have implications for their self-identity and imposed identification in contemporary U.S. society,” said Buford.

10 responses to “How Has American Identity Changed?”

  1. Browser says:

    “The big government/ big business colossus forces us to accept them. (But) they can’t force us to be friends and lovers with them, that is why we have not yet become their friends and lovers. Just wait — That’s next.” ….QD


    You’re right! They’ll have to be subtle, b ut I’m sure they’re working on it right now, searching for a way. It won’t be forced, but there will be subtle inducements: tax incentives, scholarships, rent and mortgage reductions, promotional advantages, etc.

    That will be the next step. It’s coming. We are like the frog in the pot, that is being slowly heated, bit by bit.

  2. German says:

    @ 3 — Seneca The Younger

    When I was studying I have met a lot of Africans too.

    What I can say about this elites of Africa is that they try to work hard. But many can’t fool their genes. The first thing I noticed at my first day in the city was that they are far louder than any other group of none-whites.

    However I didn’t forget that they are mostly from the upper class of Africans and mostly their parents are the elite of Africa.

  3. Rajesh says:

    I once had an immigrant co worker from Ghana who told me that in Africa, blacks admit whites are smarter. Can you imagine an American black saying that?

  4. sbuffalonative says:

    Academic double-speak.

    “exhibit patterns of selective acculturation.”

    Translation: African immigrants, just like their American counterpart, either won’t or can’t be integrated by the choices they make or by their nature.

    “Patterns of integration or isolation among these new immigrants have implications for their self-identity and imposed identification in contemporary U.S. society,” said Buford.

    Let’s see. They’re unlikely to integrate if they stay isolated so they must be integrated. But being integrated means they lose their identity which is VITAL to minorities who need to know who they are ‘as a people’. So if we integrate them, we have to be sure achieve ‘critical mass’. Of course, when they have enough people like them around them, they don’t have to integrate into the larger society…and on and on and on.

    Bottom line, segregation it seems is both bad and good and this contradiction drives liberals mad.

  5. olewhitelady says:

    Blacks, as a group, tend to be self-hating and prone to the private condemnation of other blacks (though they seldom do so in a public forum). Most American blacks exhibit extreme disdain for Africans, ascribing savage or even simian traits to them. Middle-class blacks despise ghetto dwellers worse than they do any other group. Low-class blacks hate other blacks because the latter is from a different block or another city. A small dispute between two blacks can instantly erupt into a full-scale riot involving scores of people going for the kill. Many blacks abuse their children and sexual partners and shoot one another over the merest slight.

    The Somalis who now infest a previously peaceful New England town were all but run out of a Florida city by native-born blacks. And, as others have noted, the hatred goes both ways.

  6. SKIP says:

    3 — Seneca The Younger wrote at 7:36 PM on March 31:

    I agree with everything you just posted Seneca the Younger! However, I would also submit that the Nigerians I have worked with in the muddled east are second only to Somalis as being the nastiest blacks I have worked with (perhaps second also to American blacks)

  7. Anonymous says:

    3 — Seneca The Younger wrote at 7:36 PM on March 31:

    I have a Nigerian native in one of my grad classes. I will say they are a lot better than their American brothers. But one thing is for certain, they hate Americans.


    Baloney…I don’t want any of them in the USA period and I don’t buy into that notion that they are “hard working”….they hate WHITE Americans, just like their brothers, the African Americans.

  8. Irish savant says:

    Don’t be fooled by Nigerians. Of course there are honest ones but any policeman here will tell you privately that almost all of them are unprincipled scammers, don’t pay their debts, almost never make a full living from an honest job.

  9. Bull Market says:

    A “study” written by (he/she?) Mindelyn Buford II, assistant professor of sociology and African-American studies.

    And by political science professor Amilcar Barreto, associate director of the Humanities Center.

    Oh, boy! Just look at those names. Is this still an American university? Who would guess?

    With characters like that in positions of authority, you have to wonder.

    Yes, there’s proof right there of the Long March Through the Institutions. It has been accomplished, it’s a fact, and our major institutions are no longer ours. They have been “conquered” and taken from us, right under our noses… while we were being generous, fair, and non-discriminating.

  10. Question Diversity says:

    Speaking of Nigeria — People keep talking about Nigeria’s great future.

    I have my doubts, needless to say. Let me give you a piece of anecdotal evidence relevant to right now.

    The organization responsible for the Firefox web browser just released Firefox version 4.0. It put up a world map ( ) showing the download count, of those downloading the program from Mozilla’s own servers and upgrading their existing Firefox installations. The map approximates where people are downloading or upgrading Firefox at the moment you look at the map by plopping a glowing dot where someone is. Since dozens of people are doing this every second, you’ll see a lot of glowing dots appearing and disappearing. And most of the “sparks” are either in the United States or Europe.

    The map allows you to drill down to continent, country and sub-country (state/province) level stats. I did, and at the time I checked yesterday, the whole country of Nigeria and the American state of Arkansas had about the same number of Firefox 4 downloads (just under 80,000). Nigeria has about 152 million people, Arkansas just under 3 million. So in those terms, the “future of the world” is about on par with the much-maligned “redneck hillbillies” of Arkansas (being mindful of the fact that AR is heavily black itself).