Professor Lolita Buckner Inniss’ article, Lolita K. Buckner Inniss, “Tricky Magic: Blacks as Immigrants and the Paradox of Foreignness,” 49 Depaul L. Rev. 85 (1999), was cited in an article published by the Washington Post, by Professor Eugene Volokh (of the Volokh Conspiracy blog), entitled Slaves as immigrants, from Ben Carson and the academy [UPDATE: and President Obama]. Professor Volokh, whose article discusses Secretary Ben Carson’s recent commentary about slaves as immigrants, cites Professor Inniss’ article as an example of academic scholarship which has already discussed slavery in terms of immigration. He quotes the following passage from Professor Inniss’ article:
A. Slavery as Immigration
Immigration has been defined as the moving across national frontiers, as opposed to moving within borders. Immigration has also been defined as a history of alienation and its consequences — “broken homes, interruptions of a familiar life, separation from known surroundings, the becoming a foreigner and ceasing to belong.” These definitions have traditionally been applied to entrants from Europe and later, Asia. Blacks were often either explicitly or implicitly excluded from definitions of immigration, dismissed as being merely “imported slaves” whose movement lacked the complexity of later immigration to the Americas, or deemed unwilling victims of conquerors. Notwithstanding these pronouncements, black arrivals to the Americas had all the attributes of immigrants. In fact, they created the immigrant paradigm: arrivals with alien languages, cultures and customs, who enter at the bottom-most social and economic levels and labor tirelessly.
Congratulations to Professor Buckner Inness for having her article on slavery and immigration cited in a recent blog. We cannot be reminded of our history too often; perhaps one day we will learn from it, but that isn’t happening now. We need more reminders. Alan Jay Rom