Angela Rye‘s statements against the notion that immigration is solely a “brown” issue have come back to bite her after the political analyst argued in a Twitter post this week that “Black folks are immigrants too.”
The outrage unfolded after Rye jumped to the defense of Grammy-nominated rap star 21 Savage, who was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials over the weekend, leaving fans shocked and confused. The rapper, whose real name is Sha Yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, has long claimed he’s from Atlanta. However, ICE agents say the 26-year-old is actually from the U.K. and overstayed his visa.
“Maybe now ya’ll will believe me when I say Black folks are immigrants too (not all, but SOME),” Rye tweeted in response to an article about Abraham-Joseph’s arrest. “Here’s Exhibit A and it’s ridiculous. We cannot afford to fight issues of injustice in boxes.”
The attorney, who regularly delivers hard-hitting opinions as a contributor on CNN, made a similar argument during a Jan. 11 interview with morning radio show “The Breakfast Club,” where she argued that immigration is an issue that affects all races — not just Latinos. Rye expressed frustration over what she said has become a “wedge issue” for communities of color.
“I’m struggling to understand why Black folks don’t understand that we’re immigrants too,” she said. “There’s been a big myth that this is just a brown issue, and it’s not — it’s Black and brown. And Asian and white.”
Rye’s remarks didn’t go over well, however, and critics slammed the pundit for making the false assertion that African-Americans came to the U.S. willingly as immigrants.
“Angela Rye, African-Americans are NOT immigrants. We’re not the same,” one critic wrote on YouTube. “We had to fight and our still fighting for our citizenship. If you’re really having that much of a problem understanding, I will explain it to you in detail.”
“Immigrant vs enslaved. Bit of a difference there and not sure why we continue blurring those lines,” a Twitter user opined. “My ancestors were slaves – not immigrants. We are not a nation of immigrants, however politically convenient that argument might be …”
One fan said they still admired Rye, but stressed the distinction that “we [Black Americans] are not immigrants. We were already here, and some of us were brought here by force.”
Still, there were others who were more forgiving and acknowledged that Rye might have misspoken, urging the pundit to correct herself by stating which group of “Black folks” she was referring to. Rye later addressed the backlash in a video posted to Twitter where she denied ever asserting “that people whose ancestors arrived (to the U.S.) in the belly of a slave ship are immigrants.”
“So GTFOH with that nonsense, OK?” she added.
This. Is. All. I. Will. Say. About. This! I’m doing this PSA for Black History Month. GOD BLESS. I’m done with this. For real. pic.twitter.com/HVBGYX93uT
— A N G E L A | R Y E (@angela_rye) February 4, 2019
A recent report by the nonprofit Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI) found that people from the Caribbean account for the largest share of migrants entering the U.S. border aside from Mexicans and Central Americans. The report, titled “Black Lives at the Border,” also states that “growing communities of African refugees and immigrants at the border are seeing increased [ICE] presence and vapid displays of white supremacy and even instances of hate violence.”
Rye’s “backpedal” only seemed to add fuel to the fire, as critics lambasted Rye for refusing to own up to her mistake.
“You clearly stated that black people are immigrants,” a Twitter user wrote. “If you were referring to a particular community of black people why not be specific? No one should have to try to interpret what you meant. If you misspoke be big enough to say that and correct yourself.”
Another user argued that “in both clips the underlying assumption is that Black folk are just too stupid to get your point,” and blasted Rye for her “arrogance.”
Watch more in the video below.