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Tag: thanksgiving

Gratitude Every Damn Day

It’s Thanksgiving in the US today. The last two years, I’ve posted about my discomfort with this holiday. White colonialism isn’t really a thing I’m into celebrating, particularly when it hasn’t ended and we continue to refuse to own up to that.

This year, I’m thinking about Thanksgiving and Black Friday, and how they relate.

My initial thought was, “oh, what contrast there is between a day that’s ostensibly about gratitude and the very next day that is all about capitalism and the acquisition of stuff.” And then I thought about it some more, and realized that there’s not a lot of actual difference between the two days at all.

Thanksgiving is the holiday where we pay lip service to gratitude and ignore our history of colonialism and the slaughter and displacement of Indigenous people, all fueled by greed. On Black Friday, we have our external demonstration that our values haven’t changed.

People literally die on Black Friday in their quest to get a good deal on stuff they probably don’t need. Let’s put that another way: People literally kill other human beings over stuff they probably don’t need on Black Friday. And we don’t do anything about it. If anything, the craze gets worse every year. Which seems to be the quintessential America way of dealing with preventable tragedy. (See also: the 95 mass shootings that have happened in the US since 1982.)

I don’t want to pay lip service to gratitude; I don’t want to do it one day a year, and I certainly don’t want to save it for a holiday that’s built on lies. I want to be grateful every damn day. To that end, I’ve been trying for the past couple of months to list three things I’m grateful for every morning when I get up and every night before I go to bed. I want to keep an attitude of “thanksgiving” every day of the year.

Part of being grateful is sharing what we’ve got when we recognize we have more than we need. There are links in both of the blog posts linked in the first line of this post to organizations that I’ve suggested donating to on past Thanksgivings; here a few more:

The Marsha P. Johnson Institute

Greater Chicago Food Depository

Chicago Community Bond Fund

Transgender Law Center

Planned Parenthood

 

#NoDAPL

The day this post goes live is the day of Thanksgiving in the US. I haven’t been big on Thanksgiving for a few years – I think it’s pretty outrageous to tell the story of Native Americans helping white settlers to survive and leave out the part about how the white settlers turned around and committed genocide against the folks who were there first. But this year, as we watch repeatedly the attacks of rich white oil interests against Native/Indigenous water protectors at Standing Rock (most recently with water cannons in freezing weather)…I’ve seen it suggested that this is ironic. I think it goes quite a bit beyond irony at this point. The truth is that white colonists never stopped oppressing Native/Indigenous people in America. We need to own that. We can’t ignore or erase that history. And we need to look at what concrete steps we can take now to do better, because simply sitting around feeling guilty doesn’t do anyone any good.

Author, activist, and all-around excellent human S. Bear Bergman posted this on Facebook yesterday:

Dear Facebook: can we talk about “thanksgiving”? As a Jew, I cannot stomach celebrating genocide and also as a Jew, I really get how “everyone has the day off” ends up being where gatherings go because the world grinds to a total halt. And yet, this national holiday has a revolting origin and the US Gov’t is RIGHT NOW terrorizing Native/Indigenous folks off their land. AGAIN.

So, how about this harm reduction proposition? If you’re going to do it, send a percentage of what you spend to travel and feast to protect the people protecting their land and all of our water. Shake down your relatives for money. If there’s a table you will sit at, make it a Thing at the table. Aunt Petunia might even surprise you.

I think Bear’s suggestion is a good one. Since the table I sit at today will be the one in my kitchen, alone with my partner, I am choosing to shake down everyone who reads this blog for money instead. And to make it extra easy for you to participate, here are some links:

SacredStoneCamp.org: There are links on this page to donate supplies or funds to the camp, as well as a link to donate to the camp’s legal defense fund.

Standing Rock Medic + Healer Council: Links to donate medical supplies, funds, and/or herbal remedies for use by the medics and healers at Standing Rock.

Mni Wiconi Health Clinic Partnership at Standing Rock: Donate to support the creation of a free clinic at the camp.

When Gratitude is Not Enough

 

This post is going live on Thanksgiving.

I’ve gotta be honest, folks. The older I get and the more history I learn (and live), the less comfortable I am with this holiday.

I’m all for gratitude. But I am deeply uncomfortable with the way we gloss over the bloody history of white colonialism in the name of giving thanks.

I will not be thankful that I have little to fear from police, when police are murdering people who don’t look like me. I will not be thankful that my life is seen as more valuable because of the color of my skin. I will not be thankful that my position of privilege comes at the expense of other people’s lives.

I’ve struggled the past few weeks to not be overwhelmed by a feeling of helplessness in the face of so much darkness in the world (and particularly in the two places I think of as home), because if I allow that feeling to overwhelm me, it is so easy to become complacent.

I’m not sure where to go next, but there are people out in the world who are doing important work, so I am starting here, lending support to them in the most straightforward way that I can right this minute.

Donate to Black Lives Matter – Chicago
Donate to Black Lives Matter – Minneapolis

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