During the month of November in the West, millions will be sitting down to feasts of dead meat, baked sweets, and enough grease and salt to tranquilize a horse in the name of giving thanks. What makes this gluttonous celebration so obscene is not what is being eaten – its why feasts are being held in the first place. Celebrating Thanksgiving in America is like celebrating the Holocaust in Namibia. That is why we assert that Thanksgiving should be a day of mourning and remembrance for the hundreds of thousands of indigenous people slaughtered at the hands of white Christians. It should be a day to remember our Ancestors who gave their food and lives so that their oppressors could live.For those of you who weren’t taught the real story in school, it went something like this….
The First Thanksgiving
We don’t know exactly how things went down back in 1621, but we do know that many of the early American colonies at that time had been settled by the Pilgrims who, in the face of persecution, fled Europe. The New England colonies, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland were conceived and established “as plantations of religion”. These new colonies wanted to create “a city on a hill” or a “holy experiment,” whose success would prove that God’s plan for his churches could be successfully realized in the American wilderness.And at the time, America was just that – a wilderness.The harsh New England winter was punishing. Many Pilgrims died of disease and starvation. If it weren’t for the Wampanoag Indigenous Americans, all of the whites would have all been killed off. Unfortunately, this wasnt the case. The Wamanoag rescued the surviving settlers by sharing a feast of thanksgiving. That feast meant the beginning of the end of the Indigenous Americans.In 1637 – just 16 years after the first Thanksgiving – Massachusetts Governor John Winthrop ordered the massacre of thousands of Pequot Indian men, women and children. And he used the Bible to justify his actions. Winthrop’s actions set off a demonic campaign of extermination for the purpose of claiming America in the name of God and church, and to systematically plunder the resources of the Indigenous Americans.The final result was the near extinction of every single indigenous tribe in the United States and Canada, and anywhere from 10 to 30 million people dead.10 to 30 million people. Dead. The survivors were rounded up and placed on reservations. Family separation was policy, and Indigenous American children were rounded up and placed into white controlled boarding schools to be miseducated. The land was given away cheaply to white settlers. We know that land is the basis of wealth, and much of the wealth of white America came from these land seizures. Eventually, the words of thanksgiving prayers involved the recognition and celebration of the colonists’ victory of “oppression” of the “heathen captives.” In other words, the Pilgrims actually tried to convince themselves that they were the ones being oppressed by the Indians, and were forced to fight back!As Black Conscious men and women, we know the truth: that Thanksgiving commemorates the beginning of one of the worst human injustices — the suppression, oppression, and near annihilation of the Indigenous Americans. According to his book American Holocaust, author David Stannard estimated the deaths in the Western hemisphere – including Haiti, Cuba, Jamaica, and Brazil – to number around 100 million people, and and 18 million for the areas north of present-day Mexico.
We know this to be true since according to the 1910 United States Census, the total population of North American Indians was about 400,000 – down from about 18 -19 million in 1492.
If You Must Observe Thanksgiving…
…Then observe this holiday for what it really should be: a day of mourning and remembrance for the countless millions who died so that white invaders and butchers could have the space to build their churches, bars, and shopping malls. This day should be used to reaffirm what should be America’s promise to itself…that never again would this country stain its hands with the blood of innocent indigenous for the sole purpose of acquiring land, resources, or out of pure bigotry.Unfortunately, this is not the case. America continues to slaughter the indigenous people of the world for the same reasons they massacred Native Americans. In Iraq, Palestine, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Uganda, and all across Africa, the United States is directly involved in acts of military aggression against the indigenous people of the world.Those of us who believe in original values, and who assert our Black consciousness refuse to celebrate Thanksgiving. Whether or not you believe and assert the same, I hope that after reading this article, you will at least take some time to reflect on those who died so you would have an excuse to fill your gullet with poisonous genetically modified “food”.
We should always be grateful for where we are and what we have. But we are called to be more. We have a responsibility to do better while ensuring the sins of the past are never repeated again. And we have a long way to go.From Kenya to Kansas, and from Ghana to Guyana, unless you belong to the 1 percent then we – the Indigenous people of the world – find ourselves being manipulated, discriminated, hunted down in the streets by police, robbed of our hard-earned wealth, ridiculed and mocked in the media, and victims of the highest murder rates, HIV rates, heart disease and diabetes rates, dropout rates, foreclosure rates, bankruptcy rates, illiteracy rates, and incarceration/recidivism rates.Until these facts change, we should put our thanksgiving on hold.