BY JEANETTE LENOIR
Every year Americans gleefully celebrate Thanksgiving. Today the holiday has morphed into consumerism, displays of costumed harmony and gratitude shaped by the fables and illusions constructed by those in power demanding we overlook the harsh truth and history of Thanksgiving. Still, no matter how far we stray from the path of truth, and as long as grass grows and water runs, history will remain seated in its scared place on top of the mountain awaiting man’s arrival for deeper knowledge and finally, true freedom rooted in a just and equal world.
Today, young people are still drawing pictures of pilgrims eating harmoniously with Native Americans when that depiction is far from historical fact. The truth, unfortunately, is the brutal genocide of Native Americans. And the official commemoration of Thanksgiving by Abraham Lincoln in 1863 was an idea born from George Washington as a political strategy for pilgrim unification, and in celebration of The Constitution. Historians say the turkeys significance as part of the origin of Thanksgiving, is due to the pilgrims dependence on wild turkeys they found to sustain themselves in their new world. And the national day of celebration was directly tied to their protestant religion of praising God for all the glory, land and newfound opportunities for riches outside the boundaries of Europe.
Equally important to note is how the European settlers defined themselves in an effort to unify and strengthen their hostile takeover of Native American lands. At some point, they no longer wanted to be seen as immigrants. Thus, after forming The Constitution, they evolved from being called pilgrims, colonists, Europeans and finally settling on whites, which essentially removed their specific place of origin across Europe from their identity. This new white institution was to form a political force and also to establish world dominance via the construct of white supremacy. Unfortunately, the “white” label of unity didn’t stop the Civil War from dividing the country, but I digress.
There are numerous historical accounts describing the brutality inflicted upon Native Americans by the pilgrims who came to be known as whites. It’s also important to remember, Black enslaved people were part of this journey of discovery to colonization. And they endured the worst of the pilgrims voyage and eventual settlement of the new world. It’s no secret our American teachings is shaped with many untruths and myths about our journey to this point in time, including the rotund myth of Christopher Columbus. As we advance in our knowledge of the world and its history, it’s becoming more evident that all the lies spun have been to lionize white men and their place in the world. This, despite clear, historical and anthropological accounts to the contrary. From human evolution to advancements in civilization, Africans paved the way.
Today, Thanksgiving is celebrated as a unique American tradition. It’s a day we celebrate the blessings of family, friendships, abundance and American liberty as we know it. Sadly, many Native Americans recognize this day as one of mourning. And rightfully so when you consider the ugly truths of Thanksgiving, which depicts their ancestors in a tale of brotherhood with their killers. Also, Black folks remain economically and socially oppressed in America despite the riches and bounties their ancestors reaped under forced slave labor that the pilgrims who turned white control and use as a dominating global force and superpower.
The significance of Thanksgiving matters, especially today, because we celebrate despite the reality on the ground for the people who suffered the greatest toll in the establishment of this day of harvest, feasting and celebration of our bounties. It’s a callous truth and yet every year we skip to the festive beat of Thanksgiving, with presidential turkey pardoning’s, parades and family gatherings, all while blindly ignoring history and realism. The world I want to live in celebrates a Thanksgiving where all the people who labored for the harvest equally enjoy and benefit from it. And until that day comes, the gobble, gobble will never be sweet in America.