The Rebel Who Refused Assimilation and Fought for Justice

claudia jones
Zain Murdock
January 10, 2024

In the 1930s, a young Claudia Jones hit the ground running in the communist activist space. Intersectionality, immigration rights, job equality, and racial justice movements gained a critical voice and organized leader. 

That leadership raised a red flag to the FBI, who uncovered that not only was Jones causing trouble, but she wasn’t even a U.S. citizen.

After immigrating to Harlem as a child, Trinidadian-born Jones came to understand the Black American experience under Jim Crow. She identified a “bitter indignity and humiliation of second-class citizenship” while tried in court in 1953.

Black author Carol Boyce Davies redefined Jones’ eventual deportation in 1955 as exile. The U.S. uses deportation to construct a population that aligns with American values.  

Affiliating with socioeconomic equality and advocacy through communism was undoubtedly “un-American."

But being Black American is also inherently un-American. For centuries, our citizenship has been denied, questioned, and conditioned. 

Whether documented or undocumented, do any of us possess the rights citizenship implies?

Deportation is just one way the state punishes those who can’t or who refuse to assimilate. Incarceration and ghettoization are other exiles. 

Still, we aren’t defined by their citizenship. Our Black identity continues to exist and resist assimilation to the oppressors’ values. 

Ultimately, Jones landed in Britain, where she continued to cause trouble. And across the diaspora, whether under exile or not, that trouble will never die.

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