The Next Great Migration

The Next Great Migration

The New York Times

Thomas Chatterton Williams

PARIS — AT dinner last summer with my brother-in-law, a grandson of Jews who fled Algeria for France, the conversation turned to the rash of anti-Semitic incidents plaguing the country. At such times, the question inevitably arises in the minds of many Jews: “Where could we go?” He mentioned Tel Aviv, London and New York, but the location mattered less than the reassurance that departure remained an option. He’s not alone in this thinking: 7,000 French Jews emigrated in 2014.

Over the past year, as I watched with outrage at the dizzying spate of unpunished extrajudicial police killings of black men and women across America, I’ve wondered why more black Americans don’t think similarly. Why shouldn’t more of us weigh expatriation, even if only temporary, as a viable means of securing those lofty yet elusive ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

Blacks leaving America in search of equality is not new. The practice dates from at least antebellum Louisiana, when free mulattoes in New Orleans sent their children to France to live in accordance with their means and not their color. It continued after World War II, when a number of black G.I.s, artists and jazzmen shared Richard Wright’s sentiment that there is “more freedom in one square block of Paris than there is in the entire United States of America.”…

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