America & Thanksgiving: A Holiday of Hypocrisy

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As we enter the end of the year holiday season of 2012, it is important for us to do critical self reflection as a people in struggle for liberation and a higher level of human life.

Mary McLeod Bethune, civil rights activist and educator argued for Afro Americans that “we are heirs and custodians of a great legacy,” thus, we are compelled to do whatever we can accomplish to protect, preserve, and promote our legacy, life, and the future generations yet to come. And we are to do this with an idea and practice of indomitable spirit, commitment, dignity, determination, conscientiousness, and righteous indignation. This is no less true for the Indian in the west. Both African and Indian legacy is a collective of life lessons where we have struggled for self determination, self respect, and self defense. Given our role throughout history and contemporary times, we must as a means and method to circumvent our peoples being caught up in the moment of madness of their interpretation of eat, drink, and be merry, and the cultural psychosis that comes as part of the toxic fall out associated with participation in the established order’s holidays.

Rather, we must strive to reaffirm our rootedness in our culture as a shield against the onslaught of racist lies told though the self aggrandizing myth of history by the oppressor.

Our culture is a reaffirmation of us a dignified people with a rich history of humanity in harmony with the divine and natural order at its best. Also, our culture for us is a weapon for our self defense and lastly, it manifest as a pillow of peace for us to rest upon and rejuvenate our spirit for the daily struggle we have in front of us. We must revisit and examine just what Thanksgiving as well as other established order holidays means to us as Afro Americans and Indian peoples. Thanksgiving which falls on the fourth Thursday of November; being the official kick off of the winter holiday season in America, consider the following.

This holiday which is declared a National Day of Mourning by the United American Indians of New England in 1970; is based on European pilgrims harvest celebrations. These European invaders; who after being warmly welcomed, and nurtured back to good health by the native peoples of this western hemisphere, wrecked havoc upon the Indian by way of bringing disease and carnage upon them . The European invaders arrival and seizing of the land culminated in the death of an estimated 10 to 30 million native people. This is the first holocaust on this land which was a precursor to the holocaust of African enslavement. Thus, it is evident that America’s Thanksgiving is reserved by the history of the ruling race and class as a supremely white American holiday.

What a hypocritical statement it is to give thanks for one the most abhorrent humanity-insulting days of the year – an unadulterated adoration of xenophobic savagery. But even worse than hypocritical activity by the oppressor; is the willing participation by some of our folk in our own self degradation.

Conceptually, the idea of giving thanks is a good and ethical standard. Furthermore, Indians as do Africans, in our own way, pay homage to the creator, the creations, the ancestors, and the universe in general for the abundance of goodness that we receive from the earth. In fact as a matter of cultural tradition, we are ever so grateful to the entire universe as this abundance of goodness comes to us in many forms; i.e. our family and community, the rivers that flow, the food we have (whether harvested or purchased) to feed our families, the sun, the rains; and life in general.

Kwanzaa the Afro American and Pan African celebration of family, community, and culture serves as a significant culturally centered framework whereas we give thanks for the goodness in the world. Likewise, Native Indians in the western hemisphere have a celebration day to give thanks because it is such a strong part of their cultural tradition. There are Wopila celebrations at various times throughout the year among various Native American Indian communities. Wopila is the thanks given for all of existence and the blessing inherent in each moment of it. Regularly, Wopila is used in ceremony, and as a broad statement of thanks within a community.

Next upon reflection on this hypocrisy of history, Thanksgiving day or rather the day after marks when corporate America intoxicates its inhabitants with the sales pitch of reduced merchandise. Interestingly enough this is called black Friday when in reality there is nothing Black (in the cultural sense) about it. The goal of this day is initiating frenzy and madness in a consumer contextual mindset that is driven by corporate America’s greed to get as many people to buy things up to and including on Christmas day. Christmas day as well is also is a marketing contrivance for the corporate world.

Even though president Obama has cleaned it up somewhat, we are still experiencing the damaged economy left by the Bush administration, i.e. lost jobs, lost homes etc. So it is arguable that America’s corporate world manipulation of its citizens to do impulsive and unnecessary spending on non essential things is a corruption to say the least.

So again what is the European celebrating? It certainly is not the hospitality shown to him and his Klan that was rendered by the Indian. No, as with the rest of his-story; this holiday of the ruling race and class is nothing more than a self indulgence in mental masturbation to make themselves feel good in spite of the hypocrisy. All the while they continue to try and convince us, our people, our children, and others of how good they are, and if not for the Europeans invader the Indian and the African would be worse off today.

In closing, let us both (Afro American and Indians) continue our lineage of shared culture and history of struggle. Let us remain steadfast in our resistance to the falsification of history and the ideology of oppression. Instead we are compelled to rescue ourselves through embracing logic of liberation. This of necessity includes resisting and participating in festive rituals and celebrations that are not of ours; nor responds to our cultural and community needs. Let us remain standing in solidarity with a spirit of struggle as illustrated in the following statement by prominent activist and Wampanoag leader Frank B. Wamsutta James who said at the inaugural National Day of Mourning keynote address that:

Our spirit refuses to die. Yesterday we walked the woodland paths and sandy trails. Today we must walk the macadam highways and roads. We are uniting; we’re standing not in our wigwams but in your concrete tent. We stand tall and proud, and before too many moons pass we’ll right the wrongs we have allowed to happen to us!

Min. Tukufu Kalonji is Founder/Kasisi of Kawaida
African Ministries
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