It’s that time of year again, the U.S. celebration of gratitude and turkey and colonialism. Whether that holiday means tryptophan and football, or trying to avoid conversations about religion and politics with the relatives, I thought that readers here might be interested in a roundup of what people are saying around the web about Thanksgiving and racism:
- Thanksgiving costumest – cute or racist? Momlogic wonders about the costumes in a traditional Thanksgiving school pageant. Would you let your kids dress this way?
- “The Lie of Thanksgiving” - a blog post from the Colorado American Indian Movement (AIM) breaks it all down for you.
- ‘Headhunters,’ ‘Thanksgiving,’ and other racist control myths. Kyle at DMZ Hawai’i writes about the ways that Westerners project their fears, anxieties and hatreds onto indigenous peoples, when it should be white people considered the real ‘headhunters.’ He has a point; he discusses the repatriation of 22 skulls of native Hawaiians from the Stockholm antiquities museum.
- “Once a year.” In another link roundup, Resistance has some resources for the ‘once a year’ that most Americans think about native peoples.
- “Remembering Two-Spirits this Thanksgiving” – Rev. Irene Monroe calls on us to remember “my Two-Spirit Native American brothers and sisters who struggle with their families and tribes not approving of their sexual identities and gender expressions as many of us do with our families and faith communities.”
Robert Jensen, author of Heart of Whiteness: Confronting Race, Racism and White Privilege (City Light Books, 2005) has several pieces critical of this most American of holidays, each worth a look:
- “Give Thanks No More: It’s Time for a National Day of Mourning” – a 2005 piece in which Jensen calls for an end to this holiday.
- “Raining on the Thanksgiving Day Parade” - a follow-up to the previous piece, in which Jensen takes another tack [thanks Curmudgeon]: “rather than mount another attack on the national mythology around Thanksgiving — a mythology that amounts to a kind of holocaust denial, and which has been critiqued for many years by many people — I want to explore why so many who understand and accept this critique still celebrate Thanksgiving, and why rejecting such celebrations sparks such controversy.” Jensen refuses to participate in the holiday gatherings at all.
- “How I Learned to Stop Hating Thanksgiving and Be Afraid” - Jensen further reflects on his refusal to be complicit in this holiday and he writes: “In recent years I have refused to participate in Thanksgiving Day meals, even with friends and family who share this critical analysis and reject the national mythology around manifest destiny. In bowing out of those gatherings, I would often tell folks that I hated Thanksgiving. I realize now that “hate” is the wrong word to describe my emotional reaction to the holiday. I am afraid of Thanksgiving. More accurately, I am afraid of what Thanksgiving tells us about both the dominant culture and much of the alleged counterculture.”
Do you think Thanksgiving should, as Jensen suggests, become a “national day of mourning”? Leave a comment or take our new poll (top left, under the banner).