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AS OTHERS PLUCK FRUIT OFF THE TREE OF OPPORTUNITY: Immigration, Racial Hierarchies, and Intergroup Relations Efforts in the United States

  • Angela Stuesse (a1), Cheryl Staats (a2) and Andrew Grant-Thomas (a3)

The foreign-born population in the United States has reached new heights, and experts predict that the country will be “majority minority” by 2042, possibly earlier. Despite its growing ethnic, racial, national, and other forms of diversity, the fundamental location of Blackness at the bottom of the pyramid of structural racism endures. In attempts to overcome the real and perceived tensions that characterize relationships between immigrants and African Americans, efforts to create space for interpersonal connection and shared structural analysis have proliferated in organizations across the country. Drawing from seventy-five interviews with individuals leading these initiatives and the review of over fifty different pedagogical resources they have developed and used, this article presents a classification and assessment of these programs. We consider these programs using an anti-racist, African Americanist framework reflected in Steinberg’s “standpoint of [the] black figure, crouched on the ground as others pluck fruit off the tree of opportunity” (2005, p. 43), and analyze their successes and shortcomings. Successes include the creation of spaces for interaction across difference and the building of a shared analysis. We find evidence of transformative effects at the intra- and interpersonal levels. The greatest limitations include immigrant-centricity in relationship-building efforts and a reluctance to engage immigrants in conversation about their relationships to Whiteness, Blackness, and racial hierarchies in the United States and in their countries of origin.

Corresponding author
* Corresponding author: Dr. Angela Stuesse, Department of Anthropology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Department of Anthropology, 207 East Cameron Ave., 301 Alumni Building, Campus Box 3115, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3115 E-mail:
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