I’ve been seeing a lot of tweets like this in the aftermath of Trump’s “shithole” comments:
> 43% of African immigrants hold a bachelor’s degree or higher, a percentage higher than East Asians & Americans
2/3 of Nigerian immigrants hold college degrees, a percentage higher than East Asians & Americans
Nigerian-Americans have a median household income well above US avg https://t.co/Y35UvLvCoc
— Maggie Jordan: (@MaggieJordanACN) January 14, 2018
I have no doubt this is true, but what few seem to be willing to do is examine why that is. Of course, a lot of people scratch the surface and say it’s because the US is getting Africa’s best and brightest, but nobody I’ve seen has gone any deeper than that. So I will.
What I’m about to say will vary from country to country, and even region to region, but it will be broadly true across Africa. As with anything of this nature, exceptions abound: I’m talking in the general sense here. When people talk about America getting Africa’s best and brightest, what they really mean is they’re getting Africans who had the resources and connections to first get educated and then get themselves across to the States. It may be nice to dream of some utopia whereby these lucky few include those born super-bright in a mud hut to a peasant farmer, but it isn’t true. In much of Africa, getting an education requires money and connections. The same applies for getting a certificate at the end of said education, and if you have money and connections you can get this certificate while still remaining spectacularly dim.
So who has money and connections in Africa? Well, first and foremost it’s those who make up the ruling elites and their relatives. You can be sure those who run any given African country have their kids in the best schools money can buy, often overseas, and have the means and wealth to get them into an American college when they’re done with high school. In other words, a portion of those Africans supposedly outperforming locals in American universities will be there thanks to the graft, incompetence, and corruption that have made their country of origin a shithole in the first place. And there is absolutely no guarantee they will be particularly bright, regardless of what pieces of paper they hold.
You then have the relatives of those who are not directly involved with the running of the country, but nevertheless do very well from the status quo. These will be well-placed “businessmen” who have clawed out some advantage for themselves using bribery, threats, and skulduggery. They too are responsible for their country being a shithole, and their children direct beneficiaries of the practices that have brought it about.
Finally, you’ll have the relatives of people who have earned their money legitimately, or through sheer hard work and a lot of luck have managed to get an education and a ticket to the US without resorting to lying, cheating, bribery, murder, and thuggishness. I know a few like this, and they do exist.
So what’s the split between those three groups? I have no idea, but you can be sure there are representatives of all three from every African country, and it will vary between countries. What I’d like to know is how many of these Africans I’ve seen proudly declaring their “shithole” origins are in the US as a direct or indirect result of relatives who are the root cause of the problems back home? How many African students who have taken to Twitter to denounce Trump have family members in national or local governments which are riddled with corruption, or hold cushy positions in state-owned monopolies which extract extortionate rents from ordinary people? It won’t be all of them by any means, but it will be a lot of them, and it might even be most of them. And as for this:
Nigerian-Americans have a median household income well above US
Nigerians drawn from the wealthiest few percent in Nigeria are wealthier than the average American? Who would have guessed?
The number of African students studying in the US and their relative wealth is not the boast people think it is. It is in fact, in large part, a reflection of the very problems Trump was referring to.