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According to a column from Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, African immigrants who have taken root in Milwaukee and surrounding areas find themselves turning a curious eye towards their Black American neighbors after a rash of crime has impacted the Pan-African community.

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Fessahaye Mebrahtu (pictured), executive director of the Pan-African Community Association, which serves between 8,000 and 10,000 African immigrants, spoke frankly about how those in his community have assessed the divide between themselves and Black Americans in regards to criminal activity.

“We consider African-Americans to be our ‘next of kin,’ but when something like this happens, it makes some of us pull away,” said Mebrahtu.

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He was specifically speaking about a recent incident where Senegalese native Abraham Assana, a husband and parent, was gunned down in a robbery outside of a nightclub. Police reports say that Assana’s credit card was used later to buy $11 in hot dogs.

Mebrahtu expressed that his community look at the crime as a curiously, considering the freedoms many Americans enjoy when compared to the war-torn and shattered countries many immigrants chose to flee from.

“We know the longer we stay here, we have a stake here,” Mebrahtu said. The violence can be unnerving, but in some cases, they’ve seen much worse before. It’s like the (Black) community here is no longer shocked,” he said. “It’s like the crime is always there, and the community never reacts. It’s like they’re complacent.”

Do you feel Mebrahtu has a point?

These kinds of conversations are not new. It is not uncommon to hear some Africans say, “If I was born here, I’d be rich” or “A Black person poor in Africa would be rich here.” On the other end of the spectrum, you can also hear Black Africans saying, “Africans say they’d be rich here. But if they were born here, they’d be just as messed up as we are.”

The subject is indeed divisive. But it is a subject worth discussing. Take some time to answer a few polls below on African/African-American relations.

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Milwaukee African Immigrants Think Black Americans Are ‘Complacent’?  was originally published on