As Americans celebrate Caribbean American Heritage Month and Juneteenth, Philanthropy Roundtable Adjunct Senior Fellow Patrice Onwuka explains that both holidays represent the strides Black people in this country have made in pursuing the American Dream. In an op-ed published by Newsmax entitled “Grit, Perseverance Carve Out the American Dream, Not Government Handouts,” Onwuka tells her own story as a Caribbean immigrant whose family sought to carve out a better life for themselves … despite the obstacles.
Below are excerpts from the op-ed entitled “Grit, Perseverance Carve out the American Dream, Not Government Handouts”:
“Opportunities were available, but like anything of worth, they demanded hard work, patience and humility. It took years of working menial and entry-level jobs for my parents to once again become homeowners. They moved us away from the threat of street violence just as my older brother approached an age that could make him a gang recruit or target.
At the same, my parents invested time and energy into delivering us the best education that public schools could provide. Alumni gifts also made our high school and collegiate education possible. The framed diplomas from half a dozen Ivy League and top-notch schools hanging on our home walls reflect the payoff of these investments.
My parents never believed in government handouts, but were deeply committed to charitable giving through the church and by participating in lending circles. These social networks pooled their money each week and at the end of the month, one person ended up with the cash to do whatever they needed. Lending circles commonly serve as philanthropy, venture capital and banking for immigrant communities.
Many of the over 4.5 million Black immigrants currently living in the U.S. likely see their experiences reflected in my family’s story. The rapid growth of Black immigrants has been tremendous over the past 50 years. Pew Research finds that they comprise 1 in 10 Black people in America today.
Black Americans, whose ancestry dates back hundreds of years in this country, have had a vastly different migration experience. They have overcome human subjugation, heinous brutality, legal and social discrimination and mistreatment.
Yet their resilience is astounding. Black Americans have come together to build and rebuild their communities for over a century.
The spirit to overcome any obstacle is the common factor in the success stories of native and foreign-born Blacks in America — from Oprah and Condoleezza Rice to Colin Powell and Sydney Poitier — so is their commitment to giving. This should inspire us all.”
Please continue reading “Grit, Perseverance Carve out the American Dream, Not Government Handouts” at Newsmax.