An understanding of the South African immigrant experience in the United States requires placing it within a context of linkages and alliances between transported South African blacks and the African American community. Like many other nationalities, South African black immigration to this country resulted from people fleeing the murderous apartheid regime whose national constitution and laws enshrined a racist ideology buttressed by a myriad of draconian practices. In this respect, South African immigrants were predominantly refugees and exiles on a quest for asylum. On the other hand, this group exhibits distinctive political tendencies which sets it apart from other such groups in the U.S., particularly those from "independent" Africa.

The confluence in the United States of this culture of resistance with that of African Americans, both sharing a commonality of oppression under racial capitalism, provided a terrain of united struggle and a foundation for a coalition of forces. This mutuality of experience and struggle between South African blacks and African Americans, I submit, constitutes one of the distinguishing features of the South African black immigrant experience in the U.S. It defines the close relationship and strong bonds that tie the two groups together. Born in adversity and nurtured over three decades of joint struggle, this struggle is the theater where the South African immigrant experience has taken place. The focus of this essay is to chronicle, briefly, the ways in which South African exiles forged links with their African American counterparts to mount a campaign to combat the U.S.-South African government axis, as well as to advance the cause of the fight for freedom and justice for blacks in America.


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