Updated: Apr 29
Crowds in Algiers celebrating their country's Independence Day in the city center Getty
The irony in many western countries' reluctance and opposition towards non-white immigrants is that the countries from the global south that the west has colonized, exploited, or destroyed for its resources are where said immigrants are coming from. The history of the relationships the west has with these countries is long and complicated. Yet when people from these countries try to immigrate to the west for a better chance at life, after their countries have been territorialized or worst, they are met with scorn driven by racism or xenophobia. This relationship is apparent with previously colonialist countries: Britain has it with India, Belgium with the Congo, and France with Algeria.
This is especially the case with francophone African countries, a continent that has been looted and pillaged for its resources for centuries. These people didn’t want the west in their countries either. For instance, Algerians never wanted the French in their country. Yet they stayed in Algeria, oppressing the people and exploiting them for resources until the Algerians fought a bloody war for independence at the cost of one-third of their population of three million at the time. The French are estimated to have in their possession $180 billion worth of Algerian gold and silver. At the end of France's century-long occupation of Algeria, more than 5 million Algerians were murdered and countless more were subjected to massacres, scorched earth strategies, mass rapes, and internment camps.
After the two world wars, France needed help reconstructing, and the doors were opened for Algerian workers, bolstered by their common language and history. By the mid-1980s, about one million people of Algerian descent were living in France. Today, their descendants continue to face racist rhetoric regarding their immigration.
Immigration has been deemed acceptable when done by white people. However, when people of color try to migrate to the west from countries that the west has exploited, it is suddenly deemed unacceptable. The history of colonialism and imperialism is one filled with tragedy and sorrow. However, it is also one that paves a path of immigration between former colonies and their colonists due to shared language and history. People from former colonies don’t need reparations, but they at least deserve to be seen in a sympathetic light when they leave their war-torn and looted countries for a better chance at life. After all, in a way they are owed this chance to pursue happiness.
- Abdultawwab Tello , Guest Writer.