Coming to Africa: Should Black Americans Emigrate

American Economic Association Conference, 2008

29 Pages Posted: 10 Jul 2011

Date Written: January 1, 2008


In 1988, comedian Eddie Murphy created quite a stir and considerable good fortune for himself with the movie “Coming to America,” which concerned an African emigrating to America. The title of this paper is a spoof on that movie because the paper inquires about prospects for Black Americans emigrating to Africa. At the beginning of the 21st century, it appears appropriate to entertain critical analyses of future prospects for Black Americans. Historically, many Black Americans (a separately identifiable group of around 40 million - a nation within a nation) have turned to the continent of Africa as a spiritual, if not mythical, home - the land of our ancestors. In fact, during the two and one-half centuries of chattel slavery in America, many Blacks sought to escape America, and, in many cases, their destination was Africa (Yarema, 2006). Today, although millions of Black Americans are enjoying the benefits of selective filtering facilitated by Affirmative Action-type programs and/or their own genius, millions more are suffering in poverty or as “vulnerables” on the edge of poverty (Robinson 2007B). Given trends in America and the world, events could unfold that would place both of these groups in precarious circumstances. In case ethnic troubles surface and escalate, to where should Black Americans run? Who will accept them? A quick study of history will reveal that, like economies, history has cycles and the unthinkable and unspeakable occur from time-to-time. Consequently, Black Americans might benefit greatly from the development of a long-term strategic plan that would help prevent such circumstances and provide guidance in case they occur.

This paper seeks to help move economic analyses by Black economists beyond the descriptive to the prescriptive. It seeks to open a discussion about the future of Black America, beginning with a set of questions that have lingered in the backs of many of our minds for a very long time. “Should we go back to Africa? Under which circumstances should we return? Would we be accepted? If not Africa, then where?”

Keywords: Africa, Discrimination, Economic Development, Emigration, European History, Human Resources, Labor, Prisons, European History

JEL Classification: F22, J15, J61, N33, O15, O19, O55

Suggested Citation

Robinson, Brooks B., Coming to Africa: Should Black Americans Emigrate (January 1, 2008). American Economic Association Conference, 2008, Available at SSRN:

Brooks B. Robinson (Contact Author)


P.O. Box 8848
Honolulu, HI 96830-8848
United States


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