The USA is not “a country of immigrants” and this is why…

About the USA, I keep seeing these words:

“We are a country of immigrants.”

Spoken with good intentions, but they gloss over these facts:

There were and still are indigenous people here.

  1. Ninety percent of those First Americans were killed by diseases brought and intentional genocide committed by European colonizers. Simply because they were “in the way,” those few who still survived were driven off their ancestral lands they’d occupied for thousands of years.
  2. West Africans were abducted, enslaved and shipped to this continent in chains. That is not the same “immigration” as say, the “immigrant” British white men who booked passage on ships and sailed voluntarily to the future “USA,” where they built and made themselves rich from the colonial and antebellum slavery-capitalist system.

“We are a country of immigrants” glosses over indigenous genocide, antebellum slavery, settler-colonialism, and systemic racism. Well-meaning people often unmindfully repeat “We are a country of immigrants” to remind themselves why organizations should enact practices to promote diversity and inclusion.

Instead of saying, “We are a country of immigrants,” consider an ANTI-RACISM statement like:

“The United States was built on indigenous genocide, slavery, legalized enforced apartheid, white supremacy, and immigration both forced and voluntary. This is why an ANTI-RACISM Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) focus in the workplace is essential to building a culture of inclusion and belonging.”

You can learn more about becoming an anti-racist leader here, through an e-course I’m co-teaching again with Dr. Keegan Walden of Torch.io: https://utm.io/uItQ

About Dr. A. Breeze Harper

Dr. A. Breeze Harper is a leading expert on diversity, equity, and inclusion having spent 15 years as a speaker and author focusing on anti-racism. Dr. Harper is a guest expert on an anti-racism podcast collaboration with Radical Candor author Kim Scott, and her most recent book, Scars, looks at how anti-racism and white allyship operate in multi-racial relationships. Breeze has a Ph.D. in the social sciences from U.C. Davis, an M.A. from Harvard, and a B.A. from Dartmouth.

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