Africans Really Stepped Up: African Immigrant Participation in the November 2020 U.S. Elections

Authors: Kefa M Otiso*, Bowling Green State University
Topics: Immigration/Transnationalism, Africa, Political Geography
Keywords: African immigrants, political participation, Trump administration, immigration, George Floyd murder
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/10/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual 25
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In 2000, the late Professor John A. Arthur published a book titled "Invisible Sojourners: African Immigrant Diaspora in the United States." In the book, Arthur described the invisibility of African immigrants in US political and socioeconomic affairs, their tendency to lie low and see themselves as temporary residents of the US, and their disproportionate interest/involvement in the affairs of their African countries of origin. As if to prove Professor Arthur wrong, African immigrants in the US were very much visible in the 2020 elections, voting in record numbers, running for office, and winning many seats. This paper uses various secondary data sources to explore the extent to which African immigrants showed up in the 2020 US elections and why, more so in the State of Minnesota. It finds that multiple factors played a role in African immigrants’ strong showing in the 2020 elections. These include the changing nature and magnitude of African immigration to the US, the explosive growth of the African immigrant population in the US since the year 2000, the Trump administration’s immigration policies and real/perceived hostility to Africans, the George Floyd murder, and many other factors.

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