Not a Nation of Immigrants

Monday, October 11, 2021 - 1:00pm
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

It used to be called Columbus Day, named after that murderous explorer who “discovered” land in the western hemisphere, opening the way for European imperial expansion into this half of the globe.Now that day is called Indigenous Peoples Day or First Peoples Day, honoring those who were here before the immigrants came from Europe.

The Center for Global Justice marks this day with a talk by historian Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz who will discuss her new book Not a Nation of Immigrants: Settler Colonialism, White Supremacy, and a History of Erasure and Exclusion.Widely acclaimed for her earlier Indigenous Peoples History of the United States, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’s new book, just release by Beacon Press, debunks the pervasive and self-congratulatory myth that our country is proudly founded by and for immigrants. She urges readers to embrace a more complex and honest history of the United States.

The official ideology is harmful and dishonest because it serves to mask and diminish the US’s history of settler colonialism, 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 decolonialization, 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 imperialist since its inception.