Questions of “American” “Citizenship” with Professor Wallace Ford, II
By Kate Adler, Director of Library Services
Thanksgiving may, for some of us, be a fun holiday, with food and family; but it is also a day that represents some of the darkest aspects of the American story. It is a day that reminds us that many are hungry, that the United States is stolen land, that our country is built on imperialism and colonialism and violence and slavery.
Thanksgiving can also be a time to break bread and wrestle with the question of what that legacy means for us and what it means to be an “American.” This has always been a potent question, but it is specifically so today. People are being killed, detained, and separated from their families at our southern border, and others are denied entry based only on ethnicity. We called this month’s Manhattan “Pizza and Conversation” discussion ‘“American” “Citizenship”’ because both the words American and citizenship are deeply problematic. Professor Wallace Ford II led the discussion, asking us to think not only about the crisis at the border and the ongoing violence of settler colonialism, but about slavery and how racism has always shaped the definition of U.S. citizenship. Students reflected on their own backgrounds and their own American story.