Theses Doctoral

Tapestry of Human Relations between Southern African American Migrants and Afro-caribbean immigrants in a New York City neighborhood community

Nelson, John A.

This ethnographic study investigates conditions in which groups often found to be at odds with each can instead form mutually productive and supportive relationships. As an Anglophone West Indian immigrant man myself, I am personally interested in how members of my group find success in the US and fit into the larger US African descendant sphere of Black people. As a clergyman, I am professionally interested in how different Black ethnic groups find ways to get along and even appreciate each others’ differences, as part of a larger whole. Since much of my working life is keyed to creating conditions for a positive climate in which people can be the best of themselves, I hypothesized that in the right environment groups known to be suspicious of and stereotype each other, and even engage in outright conflict, could reach a workable resolution over time. That of Afro Caribbeans and Southern African Americans presented an exemplary case.

To investigate whether this positive outcome was possible in the right conditions, I selected St Albans, Queens, 1965-present, as a site to conduct research that would help me learn a) how Anglophone Afro Caribbean immigrants made successful places for themselves in the US and the neighborhood; b) from their point of view, found paths to acceptance and even mutual appreciation of African Americans of Southern migrant backgrounds; and c) test whether particular characteristics of a neighborhood environment offer support for mutual acceptance and appreciation, without either group having to give up what it culturally values. The study found that because of several factors St. Albans indeed promoted a context which fostered getting along, and even getting along well. These included sufficient employment and housing opportunities, similarities in income and middle class status, numerous churches that reinforced positive values, and the fact that the racial tensions characteristic of many parts of the US were not prevalent in the daily life of the neighborhood.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
International and Transcultural Studies
Thesis Advisors
Varenne, Herve H.
Limerick, Nicholas
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
November 3, 2021