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Evolving Story of New Jersey’s Black Experience

“A monolithic view of Black New Jersey is probably a flawed view.”

That’s according to Rutgers History Professor Clement Price who says the black community is in the midst of a transitional period with the influx of new black immigrants of the African diaspora.

“We have a black community that isn’t necessarily American born as it almost entirely was a generation or so ago,” Price said. He explained that this could complicate the black experience because the immigrants are more likely to see themselves as Nigerians or Haitians as opposed to black Americans.

Price even questioned whether new immigrants would identify with Black History Month as much as others since it was started in 1926 by an American born black scholar and it has been historically focused on the African-American experience.

Price said having an influx of immigrants can complicate the black experience, but also strengthen the community by adding more of a global story to the narrative. While he said the black experience in New Jersey is predominantly urban, that is changing. “Blacks are participating in the same exodus out of the cities that whites ethnics have participated in.” He added that blacks live middle class lives, send their children to college and try to participate in the traditional American Dream.

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