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Black Migration to Russia: the Untold Fact

MG is an air warrior and a global traveler who loves to visit and explore new places.

black-migration-to-russia-the-untold-fact
black-migration-to-russia-the-untold-fact

Introduction

African American history in the United States is pretty deep-rooted. The first point we must remember is that the African or the black did not come to America of his free will but he was abducted as a slave and brought to work in the plantations. The black was also taken to other countries but the vast number of them came to the southern United States. In most of the vast plantations, the black man toiled as a slave with hardly any facility other than food to live on. His woman was picked up at will by white owners for gratification and there was nothing that we could do about it. Then came the civil war of 1861-65 of which slavery was an issue but despite the victory of the Union the bias against color never went away.

I don't wish to dwell too much on this aspect but let it be known that right up to the 30s and even now in the 21st-century the color bais has not completely gone away from America. In 1917, nineteen black soldiers were summarily hanged to death by the US Army with a farcical court-martial and no proper legal defense. 100 years later a black was strangled to death by a white policeman who knelt on him with his knee.

The 1930s was particularly bad and it was worse for a black man in case a white woman married him. This was supposed to be unthinkable and many were lynched for this so-called crime. It must be appreciated that at that time the black man was also economically poor but yet those who had some means thought it best to escape the torture in America and go to Russia at that time known as the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin.

Thousands of American blacks many of them who had married white girls migrated to the Soviet Union and recently I saw a documentary about them and it appears they are much better off than what they would have been in the United States.

black-migration-to-russia-the-untold-fact
black-migration-to-russia-the-untold-fact

The migration of the coloured American

During my many visits to Russia, I was once walking around one of the busy Russian city markets in Moscow. I was surprised to see a lady just about 20 walking with aplomb. What struck me was that she was not Russian and I could make out that she must have black ancestry. She looked attractive and I just smiled at her and maybe because I was a little different from the Russians she smiled back and said something in Russian. It transpired she knew no English and only Russian but with my little knowledge of Russian which I picked up over my visits to Russia,I suggested a cup of tea in a roadside cafe.

Over the cup of tea, I came to know that her grandfather had migrated to Russia along with his white wife way back in 1930. She was able to explain to me that her grandfather had told her that if he had stayed on in America he would have been lynched to death for marrying a white girl. Since he was relatively well-off he was able to manage migration to Russia but she also said that hundreds of thousands wanted to leave America and go away but they never had the means. Well, we struck up a friendship and I even visited her home and once invited her to the officer's mess.

Later on, I carried out some research on the subject and found that almost 50,000 blacks from the United States migrated to Russia in the 1930s. Russia was a communist state ruled with an iron hand by Joseph Stalin. The Afro- Americans who migrated to Russia at that time despite the totalitarian atmosphere in Russia were happier than they were in the United States. The biggest reason was the freedom which they experienced with no fear of any lynching or being hanged on the nearest tree. The 1930s is not a long time back and there are reports of the notorious KKK hunting blacks like animals.

The Russian revolution of 1917 was a watershed in world history. It saw the establishment of the first communist state in the world, supposed to have been inspired by the principles of Karl Marx. This was the time when people all over the world were fired by revolutionary zeal and many American blacks heard about the Soviet experiment and wanted to escape the rigors of discrimination.

Just after the revolution, Lenin and Stalin had established the Comintern. This was an organization for the spread of communism and had roots and tentacles all over the world. The Comintern facilitated the migration of several African-American families to Russia.

As I have already pointed out the ones who escaped to Russia were relatively better off African -Americans. Many of them were specialists in the spheres of industrial production and agriculture. They made an appreciable contribution to the economic development of Russia. One of them was Oliver John Golden and his wife Bertha Bialek who brought 16 Afro-American experts in the cultivation of cotton. Oliver Golden's house had been burnt twice by KKK as they resented his knowledge and influence. Many other famous Afro-American blacks went to Russia and one of them Paul Robeson wrote that he felt like a free bird in Moscow.

Descendants of these black Americans live in Russia and their number has multiplied Most of them have intermarried Russians.

black-migration-to-russia-the-untold-fact

Last word

Migration of populations has followed the push and pull theory. For many blacks in America who were relatively better off, the dream was to escape from the virulent discrimination and constant fear of death. In particular, the southern states were bad and many wished to go to the Soviet Union. Fortunately or unfortunately 99% of the blacks could not afford to leave the United States though they would have loved to achieve freedom while going to Russia.

Times, however, are changing, and now as per the laws in America there is no discrimination but laws alone do not enforce racial equality. It depends on the mind and the thinking of the white population and despite many disagreeing with me, I can say with authority after many visits to America that there is a sizeable number of white Americans who still cannot accept the black man as an equal. I have mentioned somewhere in one of my articles earlier that one of my close friends who was a great exponent of racial equality just could not countenance when his daughter married a black man and almost threatened to shoot the man dead.

This is the reality but as I said times have changed and the white population is now down to about 67% and in due course of time their number is going to decrease. I do not think the racial virus will go away in America for a long long time to come but I am not able to understand how the racial bias is only against black and other races from Asia face no discrimination.

Comments

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on December 04, 2020:

Thank you Rodrick, it was very nice reading your comment. The fact is the deep South had very high segregation and animosity agsindt black in the twenties and thirties. A black marrying a white was liable to be lynched , Thus those who could manage went to the USSR. Yes. they had NO POLITICAL Power but they were happy. My GF who I met in the market is an example , Her father had married a Russian and she was happy. The American want to deny this chapter but the ghost has not yet been exorcised.

Rodric Anthony Johnson from Surprise, Arizona on December 04, 2020:

This is very interesting and I want to view that documentary. I grew up in the South and did not have very many racist experiences with White people. I could feel the animosity in the air, however. We were taught to hate the USSR and that Communism is satanic.

I see now why so many Blacks from the US joined organizations that are suggested as associated with the Soviets. It was because in Soviet society Blacks may have been freer racially though not politically.

I wonder what life was like for Blacks who were poorer who lived in Russia at the time. Blacks who could not contribute to the success of the system would have been accepted, I hope for their sakes. I will be researching this, thanks to you. I enjoyed reading this article.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on December 02, 2020:

Thanks Denise, I support you and am against this division. The deep south is terrible` still, yes parts of USA are fine and I hope it will spread to the entire country.

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on December 02, 2020:

Maybe. But I would like to keep an optimistic outlook. I have been married to a black man for 35 years. Some people shun me but most accept me. However, I do not live in the south and wouldn't ever go there. I live in California. It is a bit more of a forgiving state. I guess it is all in where you live. It is a big country.

Blessings,

Denise

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on December 02, 2020:

Denise, thanks for commenting. I agree that this is a deep-rooted bias against black people but the haters may be in a minority but they have a lot of influence and they can engineer so many things. Even a minority in numbers becomes very large and that is the problem.I do not know whether America will ever be able to exorcise the ghost of discrimination against black in time to come. The bias is so deep-rooted I don't think it will go away.

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on December 02, 2020:

Well, it is a pitiful shame the white population (for the most part) is still biased against black people. However, those that are filled with the most hate, hate any non-white. They do not like the Asia community or the Hispanic or any other non-white or non-Christian. This goes against everything this country is supposed to stand for and I for one, don't like that those people get so much press. They really are a small number of haters but they cast long shadows. And when they have like-minded people heading government agencies (like the president) they cast even longer shadows. I don't know what the answer is beside the decent people rising up and showing what true citizenship means: getting along with all our neighbors and citizens.

Blessings,

Denise

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on December 01, 2020:

Thank you Sp Greaney for commenting

Sp Greaney from Ireland on December 01, 2020:

It is interesting to see the parallels between society back then and society now. There is still so much unrest in the states. We have our own issues here but it is mostly words that are thrown at non white people. Very interesting article.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on December 01, 2020:

HI Flourish, Nice to read your comment, you are so special that I will not contest what you have written, but remember there are 2 sides to a coin.

FlourishAnyway from USA on December 01, 2020:

According to an article by esteemed historian Dr. Jelani Cobb in The New Yorker, "The Enduring Russian Propaganda Interests in Targeting African-Americans," the Soviet Union recruited African-Americans to their country to live and work as a means of upstaging American democracy, exploiting them, and showcasing racism in.

Only a few hundred (rather than 50,000) took the offer, however. One of the first recruits ended up in the gulag for running afoul of the Communist party and died of malnutrition.

To me, it seems like Blacks moving to the Soviet Union during that period was like jumping from the fire pan into the fire. Just my take.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on November 30, 2020:

Tom, very true, unfortunately even Gandhi couldn't eradicate it. SADLY even those who converted carried their caste with them

tom on November 30, 2020:

indian racism is caste

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on November 30, 2020:

Thank you Umesh . Nice of you to comment.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on November 30, 2020:

Nice article. Well illustrated. Thanks for sharing.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on November 30, 2020:

Thank you Paul, for sparing time and commenting.

Paul Richard Kuehn from Udorn City, Thailand on November 30, 2020:

Thanks for sharing an eye-opening article. From what I learned in history at an earlier age, I thought that Russia also had bias and discrimination against black people. In the United States, there are still a lot of lower educated people who have bias and discrimination against Hispanics, Asians, and other minorities,

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