This is the first part of a long and very compelling Thanksgiving Day reflection from the author Robert Jones Jr. His newsletter is brilliant. You can sign up (free) for it here.
I don’t celebrate Thanksgiving Day.
Its genocidal, bait-and-switch origins make it, for me, heinous and not an occasion for rejoicing, to say the least. People get annoyed when I say this because they think it’s “too woke” of a perspective, which I interpret as too honest of a perspective, given the American investment in and penchant for not knowing. And since they like the traditions that have sprung up around the holiday, they don’t want to hear any critique of it, no matter how truthful.
I get it: I also like the idea of gathering with loved ones and sitting down at a banquet to laugh, love, reminisce, and be thankful. So, instead of celebrating the farce that is the colonists’ ploy, I use this time of year—as I touch upon in the video above (courtesy of BOOKCLUB: Black Like We Never Left)—to express gratitude to my Ancestors for their sacrifices and their survival so that I might be here today; to the First Nations/Indigenous/Native peoples upon whose land I live; and to the Universe for permitting me to exist in the first place.
Living in this world is hard. As I watch the global full-tilt toward fascist government, and witness more and more people choose, on purpose, cruelty as both their defining feature and their religious observance, I feel a deep and abiding fear. Columnist and analyst Jamelle Bouie elaborates on the behavior in question:
“When politicians and other political leaders refuse to play this game — when they drop the pretense of virtue and embrace a politics of cruelty and malice, in which nothing matters but the will to power — voters act accordingly. Some may recoil, but just as many will embrace the chance to live vicariously through leaders who celebrate vice and hold virtue in contempt.”
I’d say rather than hold virtue in contempt, they hold hypocrisy and massacre as virtues—whether they are on the receiving end or not. I mean, some folks are out here with the audacity to be debating whether slavery is a good or bad thing—in 2022!
I’m not going to lie: I’m in a state of despair. I’m mourning the human race’s collective failure to be humane. But even though I’m distraught, I don’t feel compelled to cooperate or surrender. I’m a Taurus; I’m stubborn AF. I’m determined to go down fighting.
I’m not fooling myself about what I just said, though. As frightening as this is to admit, the “go down” part of it feels inevitable. Perhaps I sound pessimistic, but don’t think we can win this war. Conquerors never concede to moral demands because 1. they’re not scared of us because they know we’re not going to band together to stop them as long as divide-and-conquer continues to work (and it’s never not worked); and 2. they don’t have any morals, as Elder Assata Shakur has told us. People who make the rules never abide by them. As the character Kosii observed in my novel, The Prophets:
“Victors gave themselves the right to rename murder ‘triumph’ and adorn themselves with jewelry made from the bones of the vanquished.”
Additionally, what bell hooks called white supremacist capitalist patriarchy (WSCP) appeals too concretely to human nature such that even the people who suffer from it or beneath it, covet, adore, and aspire to it. Most human beings just want the version of WSCP that makes our own specific racial, class, and gender, etc. identities the valued, powerful, dictatorial, and, most importantly, centered ones. Said plainly: everyone hates white wealthy cisgender heterosexual men and, quiet as it’s kept, everyone wants to be a white wealthy cisgender heterosexual man.
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