A Thanksgiving Reminder

Today is a day where we (in the United States) are supposed to give thanks for everything we have. If we compare what we have with what other people in the world have then we should be giving thanks for many things, including being born in this country. There should be a certain humility to this day. Most of us have the privilege to be in the presence of vast meal and have many days of left overs to feast on. We are indeed lucky and should give thanks.

I feel the need to remind everyone about the historical significance of this day and days like this. I was very clear in my views about Columbus and the celebration of his massacre of thousands of Native people. So I think about the Wampanoag people who gave seed to the Puritans and taught them how to fish as a gesture of good faith an in honor of the end of the harvest. Back in those days, many cultures had a feast to celebrate the ending of what was hopefully a good harvest and to thank God for all they had.

Of course the Wampanoag were ravaged by disease and imperial encroachment soon after which makes me wonder why we even celebrate this day in the way we do. Historical images show how kind Native Americans were to the Pilgrims with the sharing of food and the breaking of bread and yet we have politicians who want to build an electric fence to keep “foreigners” from gaining access to this land. Imagine if the Wampanoag slaughtered those Puritans as a way to protect the harvest and their borders.

I am sure many people take this day for granted by eating and watch football while paying little attention to the poverty around us. However, I do take solace in knowing that their are people who do share their food and work in soup kitchens to feed the poor today. The question is, why do we only pick this day to volunteer when we know that poverty does not stop when Thanksgiving ends? Are we afraid that we will be like the Wampanoag and give only so much only to have the people we help take everything we have in return?

With that being said, just take time to think about how we got here. How grateful we should all be to have a table to sit at. Take time to think about the hungry children around the world. The sick people dying from diseases we cannot cure. Pray for those who have hatred in their heart because those people never find true happiness. Ponder about all the things you have before you think about all the things you want for Christmas. Be thankful for the beauty of this day when you look outside your window.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Massacre Day

I find it interesting that I have not written about this until now. Perhaps I wasn’t prepared in the best way to really voice my opinion on Columbus Day. Over the past years, I haven’t given the attention that it needed. I usually just ignored it all together because there is no reason to celebrate such a day. However, while learning about things from Black in Latin America, I realize that this day should be addressed on this blog.

Lets talk about this often romanticized word called discovery. A dictionary defines discover as “to be the first, or the first of one’s group or kind, to find, learn of, or observe.” Christopher Columbus is talked about as this explorer that discovered the free world. I wont talk about how he got lost or that he thought he found the other side of China, but I will talk about how he wasn’t the first to the free world. That is not to claim that someone else, like the Vikings as an example, beat him to this. It means the simple fact that no one can discover a place that is already inhabited.

To believe that he discovered something means that one would subscribe to the European-Anglo version on the world. That leads me to the second definition of discover, “to learn about for the first time in one’s experience.” This is the state of history being shown from Anglo side. This was a new thing for Spain at that time. Clearly this was a discovery to them. It is very much like when an astronomer finds a new planet. It is new to them, but just because you find a penny on the floor does not mean you discovered money.

From the way it was explained to me in High School, today is very much a celebrated day. There was no mention of the subjection. There was no mention of the massacre that ensued. Absolutely no mention of the raping and the pillaging of a people that were deemed worthless. History books often show that Native Americans were on the opposite side. They are viewed in history as the people that Americans had to defend their livelihood against and making it seem that peace treaties were made to maintain a very delicate peace that was consistently broken.

Columbus day is constant reminder to those, like me, who “discovered” the truth about this day. One could say that this day was created by the establishment as a subliminal message to those who were and are victims of Colonial Imperialism. I recently heard the term Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome which deals with the mentality of always thinking, as people of color, we are not worth anything. The images of what we were and what we are only make us self destructive. So is there a similar term for Native Americans? Post Traumatic Columbus Syndrome perhaps? I am not yet versed in these terms.

I call this day what it is, Massacre Day. That may be a tad harsh for some people but I think I am being very generous with this title. I could have called it Genocide Day, or Rape a Heathen Day, or Give Small Pox to a Native day.  Please understand, when talking about the effect of Columbus in the new world there has to be that knowledge that entire peoples were wiped away. Their histories are gone and for the most part, can never be told. These are people that are, quite potentially, my ancestors.

More importantly, I bring this up as a constant reminder to those people who talk enough garbage about  “Homeland Security” and the protection of our borders from illegals. Mexicans were here before any of were here as well. The Manifest Destiny gave people this notion that we as “Americans” own this land and should push the natives as far as we can from it. Of course, now, the land belong to the corporations but that is another blog post.

Discovery is a big word and like most words in the dictionary, most people have very little concept of what it means. Sure Columbus found something that was new to him and his side of the world and yes it was a big deal. He was the reason why two land masses are now connected, but at what cost? I often wondered if my teachers in grammar school knew the truth about this day. Were they forced to just stick to the book? It is our responsibility to teach both sides of History so that we understand where we have been and where we are going.