THE CASE FOR THE 1619 PROJECT: HISTORY + DISPOSSESSION

There Are Many Origin Stories

The 1619 Project is the seed America tried to bury, and now the branches have come to avenge their roots

Nada Chehade
Case For The 1619 Project
9 min readJan 24, 2022

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Photo by Faye Cornish on Unsplash

Origin

My dad has two birthdays — the one on his refugee documents and one he discovered in his fifties. Like most refugee kids born in 1948, his birthday is recorded as January 1 because in the years following the Nakba, when 750,000 Palestinians became dispossessed and forced to flee their homes, neighboring governments did not initially recognize them. There is a whole generation that doesn’t have birth certificates, including my dad and all of his siblings.

Palestine is bordered by Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan, which is why people fleeing the Israeli military backed by UN Resolution 181 became refugees to whichever border was closest to their towns, hence, how so many Palestinian families became separated in this human catastrophe. Eventually, the neighboring Arab countries had to reckon with the impending refugee crisis and issued documents stating January 1 as their birthday because dispossession isn’t just about losing your land; it is about erasing your entire identity. My dad’s host country was Lebanon, and my extended family still lives…

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