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Druggies, Phishers and Africans
Negative perceptions about African immigrants must be curbed

Rampant immigration is a cause of grave concern all over the world. It is also the genesis of several other related problems like unemployment, scarcity of living space, racism, et al. Immigration is also linked to rising crime rates. If that sounded like immature stereotyping, read the figures yourself.

As per a US Sentencing Commission (USSC) 2007 report published by the Pew Hispanic Center, immigration offenses represented nearly 24% of all federal convictions in 2007 (up from 7% in 1991). Another report (by Rubén G. Rumbaut and associates at the University of California) inferred that the incarceration rate of black non-Hispanic males (in peak crime ages 18 to 39) is about 16 times that of their foreign-born Mexican counterparts, and twice that of similar US-born Mexicans. According to UK National DNA Database, over 77% of adult black males aged 18-35 are on the police’s DNA database.

Cutting to the Indian scenario, there is one community that is facing the brunt of this classic stereotyping – black African immigrants. Although their number is relatively insignificant, their negative perception is not helped by the fact that Indian media has regularly reported black immigrants being arrested across India for criminal acts ranging from drug peddling to email phishing frauds. Of course, there is no gainsaying the fact that none of the African embassies or even the African Union have worked towards educating the media and civil society about the mistaken stereotyping.

While India has regularly participated in the India-Africa Forum Summits, this year was a first with India even pledging $5 billion to the African Union. Under such a positive scenario, African stakeholders must embark on an image management exercise. Irrefutably, perceptions about individuals almost always gets mistakenly enlarged into businesses. No wonder that there are no African companies one hears of in India.


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