New York City, the melting pot of the United States, contains the nation's largest West Indian immigrant population. Since the immigration explosion of 1965, the Afro-Caribbean influx has impacted the social dynamic of the United States and its native-born African Americans, often with volatile results. Black Identities
, an important sociological work by Mary C. Waters, explores the question, "How similar or different is it to be a black immigrant or descendent of immigrants in Brooklyn in the late twentieth century from what it was like to be an Irish, Italian, or Jewish immigrant in the earlier part of the century?" Waters interviews blacks from Jamaica, Guyana, Trinidad, and other islands and deconstructs the mutual myths, truths, allegiances, and distrusts between these communities and whites (as well as African Americans with deeper family roots in the U.S.). Among the stereotypes Waters addresses, the most dangerous one is the perceived superiority of Afro-Caribbeans to African Americans. She deflates this and other myths with a combination of sharp scholarship and dead-on analysis. --Eugene Holley Jr.
From Library Journal
It would be fair to say that most Americans are not aware of the wide variety of ethnicities that exist among the black Caribbeans migrating to this country. Determined to render visible Caribbean immigrants and their families, Waters (sociology, Harvard Univ.) undertook an exhaustive research project. Here she compares Jamaican, Barbadian, Trinidadian, and Guyanese immigrants to their Irish and Italian counterparts of the turn of the last century, and because the issue of race so strongly shapes everyday life for people of color in this society, she examines the relationships between (and differences among) American blacks and black Caribbean immigrants. Drawing from interviews with several generations of immigrants, Waters reports a wide range of discoveries--including her finding that the Caribbean immigrants who resist Americanization are the most likely to succeed. An excellent history and a multifaceted analysis of current immigration issues, this book is recommended for academic and larger public libraries.-Deborah Bigelow, Leonia P.L., NJ
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