Posted November 21, 2012 07:09 pm

I am thankful — and aware

A few years ago, I was celebrating not having to work on a Thursday, Thanksgiving, by going out to have some drinks with a friend of mine; when we entered the bar, a woman greeted us with something like, "Happy Native American Slaughter Day" and I had no immediate response.

I'm white and aware of the awful, oppressive history of my ancestors — genocide, institutional racism, general racism, spreading diseases like small pox, rape, destruction, squashing out cultures while forcing our own — the list goes on. It's something we can't take back and can't really make up for. "Hey, everyone Europeans ever colonized, sorry we were jerks," can't even begin to make things better. 

That's why I don't personally recognize Columbus day, though we all enjoy getting a holiday from work — but is Thanksgiving deserving of the same disdain?

I see Thanksgiving as a holiday for family and friends to get together and share in food and companionship, and to give thanks for everything and everyone we have. Maybe that requires recognizing that much of what I have comes from a historical advantage based on things like genocide — and I don't think "thankful" is the right word for that. Maybe embarrassed or disgusted or sad or some word that I can't think of that combines all those feelings and more.

But I am thankful for all I have and the people I know, the opportunities I have and the lessons I've learned, and I'm thankful for every right respected and protected, every person celebrated for who he or she is, and the path forward to equality for all. 


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