Jan 16, 2019
“The United States is a nation of immigrants.” It’s a phrase we hear constantly – often said with the best of intentions and, in today’s increasingly cruel environment, meant as a strong rebuke of Donald Trump and his white nationalist administration.
The metaphor of the “melting pot” serves a similar purpose: the United States is strong and noble because we are a place that takes people in from across the globe, an inclusive, welcoming, compassionate in-gathering of humanity - e pluribus unum - "out of many, one." It’s a romantic idea – and often evoked as a counter to xenophobic, anti-immigrant rhetoric.
But how historically accurate are these phrases and the national narratives they entrench? And what if, instead of combating white nationalism, they subtly promote it?
On this episode, we dissect the notion that the United States is simply a rainbow collection of disparate groups coming together and breakdown how, in many ways, this absolves us of our past and present as a violent, white-settler colony.
Our guest is historian Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz.