All Articles Tagged "african immigrants"
New York University, the largest private university in the United States, has agreed to pay an African employee a $210,000 settlement in a racial and national origin harassment suit. Osei Agyemang, who is from Ghana, filed a case with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2010 that described him being verbally abused by a former mail room supervisor of NYU’s Bobst Library. Agyemang worked there under these hostile conditions between July 2007 and January 2009, during which time he was repeatedly called a ‘gorilla’ among other insults. Agyemang attempted to find relief from these abuses through proper NYU channels, but nothing was done to help him until his request for a transfer was granted. The New York Daily News reports:
An African immigrant received a $210,000 payout from NYU after his abusive mailroom supervisor repeatedly ridiculed him as a “monkey” and a “gorilla.”
“Do you want a banana?” his boss asked NYU employee Osei Agyemang in one of many racist remarks reportedly made to the native of Ghana from July 2007 through January 2009.
The boss mocked the immigrant’s accent as “gibberish,” while telling him “go back to your cage” and “go back to the jungle,” according to a September 2010 suit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The settlement between the Manhattan university and the one-time worker at the Bobst Library was made public yesterday.
“This suit shows that ugly harassment and retaliation can happen anywhere, even at a prestigious university,” said EEOC attorney Gilliam Thomas, who represented Agyemang.
The EEOC release regarding the settlement further explains that the $210,000 sum granted represents “lost wages and compensation for the emotional distress” suffered by Agyemang. NYU will also be required to update its policies and procedures for dealing with racial and nation of origin harassment in a process that will be monitored by the EEOC.
Still, NYU calls the situation Agyemang suffered through unusual for the university. Spokesman John Beckman stressed to the press that the harassing employee is no longer with the school, adding: “Such behavior is extremely rare here, and totally at odds with the spirit of diversity and tolerance for which NYU is rightly known.”
(The Grio) — Jennifer Brumskine, a native of Liberia, is pacing the sidelines of a high school football field watching a soccer tournament she organized. Teams Liberia and Nigeria are battling it out for the right to move on to the next round. Liberia won in a blow out. Off to the far side the field under shade-bearing trees sat their friends and family, all casually outfitted out in their American, non-ethnic clothing, cheering when goals were scored and barking at the referee for calls they felt were missed. On the opposite end was a woman selling African dishes in Styrofoam carryout containers. The smell of Ghana was in the air. In a borough where nearly 80 percent of the residents self-identify as white, this was not a typical Saturday afternoon.
(Washington Post) – At a rustic summer camp in Virginia’s Shenandoah Mountains, wedged between a monster water park and a Golden Corral restaurant, a raucous, Ethiopian feast unspooled and 9-year-old Mati found her groove at last. There was a pony, an African marketplace and piles of injera bread. There was a drumbeat that grew faster, twangs from a stringed instrument called a krar and an impossibly fast esketa — an Ethiopian dance that had Mati and her friends shrugging their shoulders at warp speed. Whoa. This wasn’t baseball. Or Wii bowling. Or skateboarding. This was what kids do in Ethiopia, the country Mati had tried to forget ever since her adoption at the age of 5.
(AJC) — A woman was convicted on charges she imported two young women from Nigeria to serve as modern-day slaves in her upscale Suwanee and Sugar Hill homes. Bidemi Bello, a 41-year-old Nigerian citizen, was convicted on two counts of forced labor, two counts of trafficking for forced labor, one count of alien harboring and two counts of making false statements in an application to become a U.S. citizen. Bello was also convicted on one count of “document servitude,” for taking her victims’ passport and government documents to prevent them from leaving.
(The Root) — On March 11, at a press conference on Capitol Hill, Tolu Olubunmi came out publicly as an undocumented immigrant for the first time. ”It’s been nerve-racking because it puts me at a risk,” the 30-year-old told The Root about her speech supporting Illinois Sen. package Durbin’s (D-Ill.) reintroduction of the DREAM Act. The bill, which passed in the House last year but failed to clear the Senate, would provide a path to citizenship for undocumented youths like her, brought to the United States as children. “But I think you have to focus on the individuals to get away from the politics of an issue that’s so divisive. Once you know that there are real people attached to the statistics, then you have to start working on real solutions.” Olubunmi, who was born in Nigeria, is also one of 3 million black immigrants in this country. Despite moving from Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America at a remarkable rate — and despite an estimated 400,000 having undocumented status — they are barely footnotes in an immigration-reform conversation that is usually framed as a Mexican-border issue. But in light of newer, smaller-but-growing communities, as well as recently granted protected status for Haitians in particular, black immigrants are becoming stronger voices, advocating for reform from their diverse perspectives.
(New York Times) — At 2 a.m. on a Saturday in the Bronx, the dance floor was packed, the drinks were flowing and a knot of young women with stylish haircuts and towering heels had just arrived at the door, ready to plunge into the fray. It could have been any nightclub or wedding hall — except for the T-shirts, posters and CDs bearing the photo of an elegant older woman. The raucous party was, in fact, a funeral for Gertrude Manye Ikol, a 65-year-old nurse from Ghana who had died two months earlier. A few blocks away, guests spilled out of an even more boisterous memorial. The Irish may be known for their spirited wakes, but Ghanaians have perfected the over-the-top funeral. And in New York City, these parties anchor the social calendar of the fast-growing community of immigrants from that West African nation. Held nearly every weekend in church auditoriums and social halls across the city, they are all-night affairs with open bars and window-rattling music. While the families are raising money to cover funeral expenses, teams of flourishing entrepreneurs — disc jockeys, photographers, videographers, bartenders and security guards — keep it all humming while turning a tidy profit.
(Huffington Post) — It was about an hour into the afternoon rush at Ben’s Chili Bowl, and Kassahun Addis pushed through the back kitchen doors and made his way through the dining room to the front counter. He lugged a red bucket full of soapy water from table to table, his skinny arms bulging under its weight as beads of sweat gathered on his brow. This was his umpteenth trip of the afternoon: through the doors, past the folks chowing down on Ben’s famous chili dogs, to the counter with the line of customers snaking all the way back to the front door. Wipe. Wipe. And do it all over again.
It could have been a scene from Dinaw Mengestu’s novel ‘The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears,’ where Sepha, an Ethiopian political refugee from Addis Ababa finds himself in Washington, D.C., doing manual work and wondering how he ended up here, of all places. ”How was I supposed to live in America when I had never really left Ethiopia?” Sepha wondered. “I wasn’t, I decided. I wasn’t supposed to live here at all.”
It was Kassahun Addis’ first week on the job and his first job in the United States. Less than two years ago, Addis, 28, who holds degrees in political science and international relations, was a freelance journalist in Ethiopia covering political shenanigans and regional conflict for local newspapers, ‘Time’ magazine and ‘The Washington Post.’ But after being persecuted by the government for his work, Addis fled his homeland, first to Kenya and then to the United States.
(The New York Times) — “The rebels came in one night at 2 a.m.; they started shooting and killing people,” said Michael Kallon, 55, a survivor of rebel raids in Liberia in 1986. “There were hordes of them, and I fled to Guinea.” After a stint working for the Pan-African Writers’ Association in Guinea in the late 1980s, Mr. Kallon, a member of the Kissi tribe originally from Sierra Leone, moved to New York in 1992, living briefly with his sister in Rego Park, Queens, before finding his own apartment in Harlem. He applied for political asylum in 1999 and received it in 2001. Last year he gained his American citizenship. But throughout the last decade, he has suffered from crippling back pain, which he said resulted from complications during surgery in 1998. Since then, he has struggled to make ends meet and was jobless until last year.
(The Network Journal) — The fashion world used to be a closed society, but over the years the industry has grown more diverse. And African fashion designers are being noticed. So much so, there is now Africa Fashion Week in New York City, showcasing African-American and Afro-Caribbean emerging designers. Africa Fashion Week was formed in 2010. One of the brightest lines of this category is that of Mataano, created by Somali born identical twin sisters Ayaan and Idyl Mohallim. Mataano, which means “twins” in Somali, debuted in 2008 to much fanfare, and today it now includes a wide array of items. Raised in both war-torn Somalia and Washington, D.C., the sisters wanted to carve out a niche in fashion.
(Crain’s) — On a recent moonlit night on Frederick Douglass Boulevard just south of 116th Street, in the shadows of a spiffy new condo building called the Livmor, the crowd for a Ramadan prayer at Aqsa mosque spilled out onto the sidewalk. Two dozen West African women in bright-colored head wraps knelt on a blue tarp, listening as the imam’s prayer filtered through an open door, his voice competing with the staccato bounce of a basketball on the pavement and a group of young boys rapping. The mosque is literally bursting at the seams. Three years ago, two West African mosques facing escalating rents consolidated into one congregation and building. The joint effort, Aqsa mosque, now faces the same problem. Imam Souleimane Konate believes that Homeside Development Corp., which bought the Aqsa building for $3.7 million in 2008, wants to build on the site or sell to another developer.