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Diversity within the Black Community: 46.8 million people in the US identify as Black

A graphic with the text "Celebrating Black History Month: Part 4: Diversity within the Black community," and an image of silhouettes in green, red, yellow, and black.

Throughout the month of February, we are sharing posts written by Imagine Institute training program assistant Lourdes Flores about Black History Month. This series will follow the long history of Black History Month, Black History in the United States, and how we can all celebrate Black History Month in a way that is supportive, healthy, and, most importantly, empowering.

Diversity in the Black Community

The 2020 census shows that 13.6% of the US population identifies as Black or African American. It is important to note that this category does not only cover African American people, but also all Black Americans.

A common misconception in the United States is to consider that all people who are Black are African American. However, this is not the case.

Is there harm in grouping all Black people under the same umbrella? Yes and no. When we speak about Black History Month, we must acknowledge that this covers all Black people in the United States. It is not limited only to African Americans, but also encompasses different immigrant groups like peoples from the Caribbean and West, East, Centra, and Sub-Saharan African.

Black Population Diversity in the US

When we speak about Black history, we cannot assume that the centuries of struggles that Black Americans have faced is that of Black immigrants and refugees of the 20th and 21st century. All of history is important, but part of empowerment and celebration is being informed of the differences within the community.

The foreign-born Black population has doubled since 2000, rising from 7% to 10% in 2019. As of 2019, 4.6 million Black Americans were foreign-born. 42% of Black immigrants in the United States are of African Origin and 46% are of Caribbean origin.

Birthplaces for Black Immigrants in the United Sates (2019):

  • Jamaica – 760,000 people living in the US
  • Haiti – 700,000 people living in the US
  • Nigeria – 390,000 people living in the US
  • Ethiopia – 260,000 people living in the US
  • Dominican Republic – 210,000 people living in the US
  • Ghana – 190,000 people living in the US
  • Trinidad and Tobago – 170,000 people living in the US
  • Kenya – 130,000 people living in the US
  • Guyana – 120,000 people living in the US
  • Somali – 110,000 people living in the US
DuWayne Portis Jr., Youth Leader at Chicago Youth Service Corps and High School Senior at Lindblom Math and Science Academy, delivers remarks at a Black History Month reception, Monday, February 27, 2023, in the East Room of the White House. (Public Domain: Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)