Africans in New York

The World
The World

On election night last month, thousands of Latinos, Africans and African-Americans filled this neighborhood and celebrated together.

A few weeks later at this South African restaurant in New York, this man laments the divide between African-Americans and more recent African immigrants like him.

He's a computer programmer from Nigeria. He says his accent automatically plays into the fact that he might not understand the African-American experience.

He says in the 1960s, recently immigrated Africans could come to the U.S. with a sense of solidarity with African-Americans. But such expressions of unity couldn't mask the cultural divides between Africans and African-Americans.

This woman says the tension comes with frustrations from the groups not seeing each other's sense of identity.

That misunderstanding comes from the difference between Africans who came here in chains and those who came in search of green cards and a better life.

Some believe that Africans and African-Americans should have more in common. Much of the tension centers around the idea of respect. For example, Black Americans complain that African and Caribbean taxi drivers refuse to stop for them, and many Africans complained about African-American crime.

But those attitudes may be changing. The computer programmer from earlier says the election of Obama is helping change that.

This chef at an East African restaurant has been saying since the election, he's been exchanging high fives with his African-American customers. It's too soon to know if this sense of optimism can last, but for now, people are hopeful.

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