Selected as a Best Nonfiction Book of the Year 2021 by Bookshop staff:
Most of us have heard America referred to as a “melting pot” or a “nation of immigrants.” While these self-congratulatory phrases paint a rosy picture of our past and present, they obscure or downright ignore some of the core tenets of this nation: white supremacy, settler colonialism, and capitalist exploitation of land and bodies. True to form, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’s latest work combines incisive criticism with unmatched clarity to provide a comprehensive history of both immigrants and xenophobia in America.
This book is one of our eight selected titles for our 2021 Fall Reading Challenge. Read more here.
Whether in political debates or discussions about immigration around the kitchen table, many Americans, regardless of party affiliation, will say proudly that we are a nation of immigrants. In this bold new book, historian Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz asserts this ideology is harmful and dishonest because it serves to mask and diminish the US's history of genocide, white supremacy, slavery, and structural inequality, all of which we still grapple with today. She explains that the idea that we are living in a land of opportunity--founded and built by immigrants--was a convenient response by the ruling class and its brain trust to the 1960s demands for decolonization, justice, reparations, and social equality. Moreover, Dunbar-Ortiz charges that this feel good--but inaccurate--story promotes a benign narrative of progress, obscuring that the country was founded in violence as a settler state and has been imperialist since its inception. While some of us are immigrants or descendants of immigrants, others are descendants of those who were here since time immemorial and others are descendants of those who were kidnapped and forced here against their will. This paradigm-shifting book from the highly acclaimed author of An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States charges that we need to stop believing and perpetuating this simplistic and ahistorical idea and embrace the real (and often horrific) history of the United States.