This paper explores multi-generational shifts in identities and community building among the ‘new’ African diaspora in Vancouver, Canada. Drawing on interviews with adult migrants from sub-Saharan Africa, teen migrants, and second-generation adults, the paper highlights how diasporic identities are gendered, racialized, and place-based. The first generation struggles to remain African, with men focused more on maintaining links with the homeland and women engaged more with strategies of homemaking in Canada. In contrast, second-generation young men develop stronger affinities with the nearby African-American diaspora, while their sisters are more likely to identify with the local African-Canadian community and, like their parents, to dis-identify with the larger African-American diaspora.
The new African Diaspora in Vancouver, a product of post-1980s migration, is marginalised numerically, economically and socially, while processes of racialisation make it hyper-visible even in a diverse multi-ethnic metropolis where four in ten residents are immigrants. Diasporic identities, local community-building, and transnational practices are gendered in complex ways as masculinities and femininities are renegotiated through processes of racialisation, downward class mobility, and new institutional contexts. The dominant forms of gendered identities and practices that have emerged in this context also shape new hybrid identities among the next generation of sons and daughters. In different ways, sons and daughters negotiate the new African diaspora created by their parents, and pervasive influences of African-American youth culture across the border. Young African-Canadians of both genders negotiate oppressive racialised scripts linked to the historical African-American diaspora, scripts that run counter to gendered norms in the local African diaspora and mainstream Canadian culture. The negotiation of these tensions is gendered. Young men bear the brunt of oppressive surveillance and policing, and come to identify more with a larger Black diaspora and the oppositional stance of African-American youth culture. In contrast, the misogyny of much African-American youth culture mutes it appeal to their sisters, who, especially as they begin to envision raising their own children in Canada, connect more strongly with the local African diaspora.