A Nation of Immigrants and Xenophobia

Historian Erika Lee spoke about anti-immigrant xenophobia in the United States and the power of storytelling to counter stereotypes at TEDxMinneapolis during the COVID-19 pandemic in the fall of 2020. In her presentation, she talks about the dual narrative that we have in the United States as both a nation of immigrants and a country with a long history of anti-immigrant xenophobia, which she ties to racial prejudice. Watch her talk below:



Reflection Questions and Teaching Ideas

Lee’s talk presents a paradox, the United States as a country with a proud history of immigrants and immigration and a long history of anti-immigrant xenophobia. You might start the discussion of her ideas by asking students to engage with the Project Zero See-Feel-Think-Wonder routine.

A second  Project Zero thinking routine you might use to deepen reflection on Lee’s talk is Connect-Extend-Challenge. How does the story she presents connect to what you already know, how does it extend your knowledge/understanding, and how does it challenge your thinking?

To consider how others with different perspectives might respond to Lee’s presentation, consider using the Circle of Viewpoints routine.

Lee suggests that stories are powerful ways that people can change the public narrative about migration. Re-Imagining Migration has created the Moving Stories project to encourage people to share their own migration stories, whether they are about moving within a community or a nation, or across borders and generations. Dr. Lee mentions an immigrant storytelling project that she helped create. Follow this link to learn more about that work.