A Brief History of Xenophobia in America
Based on Erika Lee’s 2019 book “America for Americans: A History of Xenophobia in the United States”, this seven-minute film was commissioned by Seattle non-profit Densho for a new American history curriculum in middle schools.
Director JJ Gerber at Movement Content in Seattle: “Densho is focused on archiving the history of WWII Era Japanese-American Incarceration camps and using that history to shed light on the recurrence of similar treatment toward immigrants such as the modern-day border camps, the illegal incarceration of Muslims after 9/11, etc.
“This film tells over 400 years’ worth of American History that is rooted in Xenophobia. The idea is that once we know our past, we can work toward a better future.
“We bring up over 75 points in American history where Xenophobia and racism created roots that spread in policy and everyday American life, sometimes unbeknownst to most Americans that this oppression was even happening.
“The United States often touts itself as a nation of immigrants, but this obscures the real story: Our country was built by enslaved Africans and exploited immigrants on stolen Indigenous land, which left deep scars that we have yet to heal.
“This brief history of xenophobia and racism shows how these darker parts of American history are interconnected, and challenges viewers to write new narratives as we work together to confront our past and build a more just and equitable future.”
Project Manager: Natasha Varner
Production: Movement Content
Director: JJ Gerber
Copywriter: Kathleen Tarrant
Designer: Heather Lynn-Aquino, Juliet Park
Animator: Aradhana Modi Bejarano, Andrew Pabon, Kevin Fleury
Narrator: Jessica Deshong
Based on the book: America for Americans: A History of Xenophobia in the United States by Erika Lee.
Music/Sound Design: Sono Sanctus