Posts Tagged ‘British Settlers in America’

It’s Time to Rethink Thanksgiving

December 3, 2022

I’m changing my mind about Thanksgiving. I’ve totally enjoyed the annual family-and-friends pig-out; the cooking, sometimes communal, as much as the overeating, which was guilt-free—based, as we learned in grade school, on a magical First Thanksgiving in 1621, featuring grateful Pilgrims and their guests, the Indians, sharing the harvest bounty of the land they now shared.

The First Thanksgiving | Creative Commons

But, really, how can it feel guilt-free? Apparently there was some kind of harvest meal that year, and some of the local people, the Wampanoags, were in attendance, but the Pilgrims never saw them as fellow people, and soon enough were robbing, fighting, capturing and enslaving or killing them. Given the whole long history of Europeans’ and then white Americans’ relations to the people who were here first—right down to a current Supreme Court case that has the potential to strip them of their status as nations in the US—it seems to me it would feel more natural to observe the fourth Thursday in November as a day of mourning for all the indigenous people we white people have killed or displaced or enslaved—not to mention lied to, cheated or outright robbed—to secure this land and its bounty for ourselves. Or, if mourning would be hypocritical (they weren’t our people, after all), maybe a day of atonement for those sins. Or, at the very least, a day of reckoning, of somber acknowledgement of what we have done and are still doing.

But too many white people seem unable even to admit, much less take responsibility for what we have done: Our horrendous and unrelenting violence and mendacity toward indigenous people and everyone else we deem to be nonwhite. All that we owe them in reparations for what we have not stopped doing yet. Instead, any attempt to redress the balance, any reparative policy is seen as discriminating against whites. If we don’t have it all, don’t own and control everything, don’t get all the advantages of white supremacy all the time, we throw a tantrum.

Why are so many white people always ready to feel victimized? It’s a hair-trigger over an absolute: we seem to believe that either we have it all or we lose it all; are replaced.

It’s completely crazy.

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