Happy Holidays? Feeling Conflicted about Thanksgiving

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“We didn’t land on Plymouth Rock. Plymouth Rock was landed on us.” ~ Malcolm X

Last Wednesday, I posted a message that we, at 2 Dope Sistahs, were on holiday. I wished everyone “a happy and safe holiday weekend.” I was originally going to write “Happy Thanksgiving,” with the graphic above, but I just couldn’t bring myself to post that.

In my family, we have never embraced the traditional, sanitized version of the first Thanksgiving in 1621. And there certainly has never been anyone at our house dressed as a Native American or even a Pilgrim. I have considered it a time to take a break from classes; to catch up on work; to visit and spend time with family; and to enjoy an excellent, extremely fattening home-cooked meal.

In years past, my Thanksgiving was also tempered by attending a roundtable called “Thanks-taking,” sponsored by American Indian Studies at my alma mater. I know that for many Indigenous people, this holiday is considered a Day of Mourning to commemorate the struggles of their ancestors and to provide a counter-narrative to the mythology of Thanksgiving through (re-)education.

As a historian, I am constantly engaged in “myth-busting.” Perhaps that is why I am  conflicted about Thanksgiving. I have similar feelings about Independence Day, which I usually refer to as “The Fourth.” The American Revolution did not bring freedom to enslaved African-Americans. Although I enjoy a good fireworks show as much as anyone else, the Declaration of Independence did not apply to my ancestors. In fact, the Constitution acknowledged the rights of slaveholders and made sure that Americans could continue to import additional African slaves until 1808. So, on the The Fourth I wake up and read Frederick Douglass’ What to the Slave is the Fourth of July.

So, what is the answer? How can socially aware people celebrate this holiday of thanksgiving that also symbolizes genocide, war, enslavement, land appropriation, and forced conversions to Native People? I will continue the tradition of fellowship and food. Aside from that, I think the answers are education and open dialogue. We must begin to acknowledge our complicated history by listening to the voices of people that have often been marginalized.

In 1970, Wamsutta James, a Wampanoag man, was prevented from giving his intended speech at the 350th anniversary celebration of the Pilgrims landing in Massachusetts because it was considered “inflammatory.” Why don’t we start the dialogue there?

 

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Thanksgiving

Photo courtesy of Keattikorn/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Keattikorn/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The 2 Dope Sistahs are on Holiday, but we’ll be back on Monday with fresh posts. Much love to all our followers! Have a happy and safe holiday weekend.

Wacky Wednesday: What I’m Thankful For

Da Hype 1

I  am extremely thankful for laughter! I cannot begin to identify the number of people in my life who make me laugh. I talk to my mother several times a week (though not enough for her) and at every opportunity that presents itself, we quote a line of the The Color Purple and fall out laughing at our clever selves. I have countless friends like the Da Realist 1, who I speak to on a regular basis, and who I laugh with frequently. Nothing is funnier than watching Da Realist 1 give someone the side eye when she could have sworn she was wearing her poker face. For the record: Da Realist 1 has no poker face. Last, no one makes me laugh more heartily than my 6 year old, Nina. Sometimes, we laugh so hard at each other that tears run down both of our faces. She is the silliest kid I know.

In recent years, I have faced some moments of loss, and in those moments, I learned to be thankful for laughter.

Image courtesy of digitalart/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Image courtesy of digitalart/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Da Realist 1

First, I have to say, “Get outta my head, Hype 1!” I was going to write about being thankful for a sense of humor, especially during difficult times. You know, sometimes we have to laugh to keep from crying. But I will press on. Fortunately, there are many things for which I am thankful.

I am thankful that my husband and I are together, living in the same city. Because of school and having jobs in separate cities, sometimes we weren’t able to live together. It’s hard being a single when you’re used to being a couple. We always found a way to be together during the holidays, and I was grateful for that. But our time together was always too short. So, this Thanksgiving I will be thinking about how thankful I am to be with my husband–who prefers not to be used as material in this blog–every day. Sorry, Zachary! I blame it on Da Hype 1. She stole my answer. 😉