Voluntary and Involuntary Immigration and Migration

I am an African American USer raised middle class by raised-poor parents who were grandchildren of people enslaved in the U.S. South during its slavery era. I want to make a distinction between voluntary and involuntary immigration and migration. I think this distinction is important, in particular when establishing discharge groups at workshops.

I define voluntary immigration and migration as leaving one’s country of origin without physical constraints. Remaining may be difficult or impossible, but the immigrants or migrants do leave their homes of their own volition and power. And in spite of the pressure to assimilate, they can often maintain their cultural and ethnic identities.

I define involuntary immigration and migration as being removed from one’s country of origin bound and imprisoned. African-heritage people who came to the United States during the slavery era were brought in chains. And they were physically abused and deliberately separated from their cultural and ethnic identities. They had no home with which to identify other than what they were allowed to create during their enslavement. Their experiences were brutally painful, they had few if any opportunities to heal, and their unhealed hurts were passed on from one generation to the next.

Indigenous people have had similar experiences with involuntary migrations and attempts to eliminate their cultural identities.

I believe that when establishing discharge groups, at least for middle-class People of the Racial Global Majority, we should consider not only race and class but also immigration and migration status.

Jackie Kane

Albany, New York, USA

Reprinted from the e-mail discussion list for RC Community members

(Present Time 193, October 2018)

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00