“The people did not cross the turnstiles of customs at Ellis Island. They were already citizens. But where they came from, they were not treated as such.” ― Isabel Wilkerson, The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration.
Candidates, politicians, media commentators, and people of good-intent like to profess “we are a nation of immigrants.” Yet, that is one of the most dehumanizing lines that can ever be uttered. It is a lie. It is an offensive mischaracterization of our history. It erases the fact that a race of people lived here, before you or your ancestors arrived. A race of people that had their own languages, customs, cultures, economies, and religions. Every-time this lie is allowed space to breath, it conceals the fact that people were dispossessed of their land. This lie allows us to ignore that a genocide
was perpetuated against a race of people, for your benefit. If we say this lie, we don’t have to confront the injustice that was sustained by the people who lived here before us.
After the indigenous population was nearly destroyed, black bodies were stolen, smuggled in the hulls of ships, and sold into perpetual bondage to work this misappropriated land. The lie of “we are a nation of immigrants” attempts to circumvent the fact that the value of all slaves was $75 billion dollars in todays dollars. That prior to the civil war, the wealth of this country was concentrated in the Mississippi River Valley. Black bodies funded our American experiment. An experiment that they were (are) barred from fully participating in.
The lie, “that we are a nation of immigrants”, glosses over people were murdered and enslaved so that your family could have a better life in America. That better life was purchased with the blood of indigenous and black bodies. The lie negates our collective American history. The lie, is a falsehood spoken so we can ignore the misery meted out to indigenous and black bodies so that your family could escape the hardships they faced and create a better life on this stolen land.