A Good Country: My Life in Twelve Towns and the Ongoing Battle for a White America
A leading advocate for social justice excavates the history of forced migration in the twelve American towns she's called home, revealing how White supremacy has fundamentally shaped the nation.
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A leading advocate for social justice excavates the history of forced migration in the twelve American towns she's called home, revealing how White supremacy has fundamentally shaped the nation. Sofia Ali-Khan's parents emigrated from Pakistan to America in search of a good country. Growing up with a nerdy interest in American folk history and a devotion to the rule of law, Ali-Khan would ultimately pursue a career in social justice, serving some of America's most vulnerable communities. By the time she had children of her own--having lived, worked and worshipped in twelve different towns across the nation--Ali-Khan felt deeply American, maybe even a little extra American for having seen so many sides of the country. But in the wake of 9/11, and on the cusp of the 2016 election of Donald Trump, Ali-Khan's American dream of a good life in the communities of her youth felt under constant threat. She needed to understand whether America, which had for so long proudly proclaimed itself a nation of immigrants and underdogs, would continue to make good on its promise of offering her kids a better life. As the vitriolic attacks on Islam and Muslims intensified, she wondered if that promise had ever applied to families like her own, and if she had gravely misunderstood the nation she'd grown up in. To make sense of it all, Ali-Khan went in search of that good country to which her family first came, revisiting the places that have shaped her life and unearthing half-buried histories of cultural annihilation, forced migration, and systemic dispossession that still shape every state, town, and reservation today. From the forgotten origins of Chinatowns across the country to the myth of a peaceful Quaker Pennsylvania, Ali-Khan braids the story of her own political awakening with these histories to reveal how America's European colonial premise continues to shape our nation, driving Brown and Black Americans to the margins and then developing the law and the landscape to impoverish, exclude, and contain them. Equal parts memoir, history, and prescription for confronting America's most painful legacies, A Good Country is the story of every corner of our country--from Flagstaff to Boston and everywhere between.