Being Black and Celebrating Thanksgiving: What Are We Doing?

Today is Thanksgiving. As I prepare my designated dish to bring to the family table to commemorate the savagery of our former oppressors, I’m filled with contrary emotions.

Today is Thanksgiving. As I prepare my designated dish to carry to the family table to commemorate the savagery of our former oppressors, I’m filled with contrary emotions. I don’t believe in these holidays; Columbus Day, Independence Day, Christmas, Easter and so forth. They aren’t against my religion, far from an atheist I consider myself spiritual and not religious at all. These holidays we are taught to celebrate are either steeped deeply in a religious tradition or a memorial to the genocide of the American Indian and captivity of the Afrikan in America.

As a Black woman who has studied thoroughly the history of this country we call home, I am often ashamed to be American. I am ashamed to try to understand to my son why we called the American Indian, Native Americans but claim that Columbus discovered America. I am ashamed to explain to my son that when our president-elect speaks of putting judges on the Supreme Court who would uphold the Constitution as written, that doesn’t include to benefit us. Explaining to your child that as one point by the color of skin, his ancestors were considered property and only 3/5 a person in the country he was born in is heart-breaking.

How do I explain to my son the true history of America and then coerce him to celebrate it? See I live in a world of reality, not the world of false history, reality television and brainwashing through television, movies music, trends, and celebrities the government would like us to all subscribe to. I teach my son to navigate this same world as much as possible, being born in the technology age he is more susceptible to the programming.

As a parent, it is my job to teach him all the things his school will not. It is my job to explain to him why we celebrate certain historical figures like Martin Luther King, Jr. over Malcolm X. It is my job to remind him that when the settlers claimed freedom and started their Independence Day celebrations, us Blacks were servants, slaves, property and 3/5 a person. I can’t celebrate Independence Day, I celebrate Juneteenth, the celebration of Independence of Blacks in America.

As a parent, I must teach him how the American Indian was slaughtered and sold into slavery across the world. Every November, we gather as a family to eat, some families of European descent over the years have even put on ‘Thanksgiving Pageants’ and shows to celebrate the founding of America. We gather as a family to eat and give thanks for all we have, to the original settlers, that was land and a hope for new beginnings. For the Afrikan in America, the greatest gift is general life and the ability to have sustained another year.

No matter how far we have come as a people, the Afrikan in America will never prosper the way the Europeans have. It was never intended that way and the law of the land will never be changed so dramatically that it would be allowed. Let’s not even discussed the failed idea of reparations, which would have allowed our people to actually have a stake in America and provide a real opportunity equal to that of our former oppressor.

I don’t celebrate these holidays, reminiscent of bloodshed, captivity, and slaughter but my family, not as well read, nor as enlightened, does. For years, I managed to avoid the whole hubbub of family and holiday tradition. This year, I’ve agreed to show up. It’s a smaller affair this year, my brothers and sister won’t be there. Just My stepmom, dad, son and I along with my best friend for support. I’ve agreed to put my politics, familial squabbles, and own feelings aside because no matter what I believe, the tradition is important to my parents. They know no better.

I’m a rebel, I bought a whole salmon to bring to dinner. I will allow them to eat their traditional celebratory slaughter meal. I won’t mention the history of the holiday and when they go around the table to say what they’re thankful for I will say that I’m thankful that thought we may not see eye to eye, we can put our differences aside for the thing bigger than the genocide committed by the forefathers of the land.

The gathering of the Afrikans in America, still standing strong after so much was done to break and destroy us.

While the Europeans celebrate their genocidal history, I will be celebrating our strength in the face of that genocide.

The Afrikans ability to prosper in a country that never wanted us to exist beyond labor. And when my parents are out of earshot, I will pull my son aside and remind him again what this day is really about. It’s a mother’s job after all.

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