Title

Not Black, but Habasha: Ethiopian and Eritrean Immigrants in American Society

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2012

Publication Source

Ethnic and Racial Studies

Volume

35

Issue

7

Inclusive pages

1200-19

DOI

DOI:10.1080/01419870.2011.598232

Peer Reviewed

yes

Abstract

In this article, I examine the identity choices of Ethiopian and Eritrean immigrants of Amhara, Tigrayan and Tigrinya ethnicity within the context of the larger debate on how non-white immigrants are being incorporated into American society. I argue that these immigrants resist racialization even while their actions and attitudes potentially reinforce America's racial divide. They implicitly challenge American racial categories by thinking of themselves as Habasha, which they view as a separate non-black ethno-racial category that emphasizes their Semitic origins. Meanwhile, they often distance themselves from American blacks through pursuing transnational connections, producing Habasha spaces, displaying the attributes of a ‘model minority’ and preserving Habasha beauty through endogamy. By remaining relatively isolated within their ethnic communities in Washington, DC, which is the focus of this study, they may succeed in differentiating themselves from American blacks, but they are not likely to join the American mainstream on a par with whites.

Keywords

Immigration, transnationalism, race, ethnicity, identity, Habasha

Disciplines

Anthropology

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