A refugee agency spokesperson quickly tells us that this isn’t a hate crime (of course we all know that hate crimes can never be black on black). By the way, the conflict in Roanoke started with kids too. You can be sure they are hearing things at home which they then take to the streets and schools.
Most of the fighting happened in Rock Island, when the kids were on their way home from school.
Some even categorized the black-on-black fighting as hate crimes. On one side are African refugees and immigrants who have moved to the Quad-Cities legally. On the other side are American-born blacks.
For reasons that no one can explain with certainty, the two sides frequently collide.
“It bothers me tremendously that we can’t figure out what to do about this — find out what upsets one culture about the other,” said Ann Grove, affiliate director of World Relief in Moline.
As the children’s conflicts began to escalate last fall, grownups began to notice.
“In the beginning, I think it was blown out of proportion,” said Connie Hayes, executive director of the Community Caring Conference. “After an investigation, it was found these were not hate crimes. It was young people who were fighting, which happens on a regular (basis).”
How could this be, two “cultural groups” clashing?
The question of why two specific cultural groups were routinely clashing became the focus of several local agencies, including World Relief, CCC, Rock Island-Milan Schools, the Rock Island Police Department and the Rock Island Housing Authority.
Some in the groups theorized on the reasons for the conflict before recently coming up with ways to repair the stressed relationships.
Here is a fact we know so well, the community was not sufficiently prepared (because the volags bring the refugees in to communities quietly).
Rock Island Police Capt. Scott Harris reasoned that longtime residents of Rock Island weren’t sufficiently prepared for the newcomers.
“We, as police officers, get very limited training on different cultures, such as why some people don’t look you in the eye or how some need more personal space,” he said. “But nobody bothers to tell the neighbors. They don’t realize that when the new guy doesn’t look you in the eye, it’s not because he’s deceitful.
“The community has come together to look at ways to bridge this.”
Grove speculated that some of the battles were based on a sort of turf protection.
“In many cases, you have several generations of Rock Island families that feel a certain ownership of their community, which normally is a good thing,” she said. “But the sense that the territory is theirs isn’t always good, and the newcomers need to pick up the unwritten rules very fast.”
They’ll solve it with a task force! They will start an adopt-a-family program which sounds vaguely similar to how refugee resettlement used to work before all these volags got paid to resettle refugees and the idea of family sponsors was dumped. But, notice the last line, its always about the immigrants and refugees never about the comfort of the community in which they have been brought.
To help mend whatever misunderstandings exist between the two cultures, plans are in the works to introduce them before things have a chance to go sour.
“We’re meeting with the schools in a kind of task force to come up with ideas,” CCC neighborhood organizer Tonya Davis said. “We’re beginning to have welcoming committees for immigrants. We hope to eventually have an adopt-a-family program in specific neighborhoods.”
The idea, she said, is to pair up existing families with those who are new to the country. A Sudanese-born refugee, for instance, would be paired with a Rock Island-born youngster, and the two would walk to school together.
“We want everyone to feel more comfortable,” she said. “I know it has to be an overwhelming transition for the immigrants and refugees.
As Mark Krikorian points out in his new book, the one Judy posted on over the weekend, immigration is differant today for one primary reason. We have a welfare state and when long time citizens see newcomers getting things they aren’t getting (and they know they are paying for it), resentment builds. And, the head of steam against immigrants builds even more when communities feel that something is being shoved down their throats by an outsider do-gooder crowd—that response is just human nature.