‘Tis the time of year where the general population of the northern hemisphere prepares to engage in the collective amnesia known as the holiday season. For most of my life, I too was an enthusiastic participant in the collective amnesia of American culture. I awaited the baked macaroni and cheese, yams with marshmallows, cabbage, and my favorite— the elaborate desert table. I anticipated the eating competition between my cousins, preceded by a morning of baking and food preparation. Now, the holidays do not bear the once nostalgic aroma of family and food, but a forgetfulness fatal to my pending consciousness. It is difficult if not impossible to find pleasure in a holocaust guided as a holiday. Simply put, my sentiments towards this holiday now boil down to a single critical query I ask myself amidst the anniversary of the Thanksgiving holocaust: could you eat over the slain bodies of whom assumed the best of those with the worst intentions?
The holiday, aligned with turkey, gratitude, and cranberry sauce, is a strategic means to veil the indigenous holocaust, resulting from this white supremacist nation’s first act of cultural genocide via gentrification.
Although not commonly aligned with Thanksgiving, cultural genocide via gentrification is a common topic of the contemporary world. One that many within the black collective will readily engage with fervor and passion, emotions that dissolve when faced with the temptation to engage in the performative happiness that dominates western culture at designated times throughout a twelve month period. What whites did to the indigenous centuries ago serves as a model for the gentrification presently seen in Dallas, Oakland, Washington DC, Brooklyn, Harlem, Los Angeles, New Orleans etc.. Thus, to celebrate this holiday is to celebrate gentrification guised by the cheap perfume of collective amnesia. An amnesia that instructs objects exteriorized by white supremacy that is now time to celebrate and acknowledge one’s family.
It is not a coincidence that this invitation to celebrate takes place when it does. This celebration, if not a veil, could very well take place any other day throughout the year. But the celebration occurs on the anniversary of a pioneer act of white cruelty, to issue the decesendants of these white settlers yet another victory in fomenting the entire world to stealthily celebrate their abjection.
Thus, to not celebrate Thanksgiving is an act of resistance— a deliberate act to repel the forgetfulness that often bleeds into other areas of life. A forgetfulness that incites the enslaved black mind to say things like “look how far we’ve come,” and to smile in individuality when the collective remains hypnotized by the detriment of white dominance.
This resistance is important, in instances like “Thanksgiving” and other commercial American holidays that often prove an pseudo escape from year round racial conflict in its performative happiness. The term “performative happiness,” speaks directly to the appearance of a happiness fictively implied, in the nurtured emotions of a particular western event. The performative aspect incites many to act “happy” even in face of murders, systemic lynchings and economical and educational disenfranchisement, amongst other injustices. This performative happiness is a mask that both the oppressors and the oppressed wear to downplay a reality that when fully exposed seems far too terrible to be true. Furthermore, it is imperative that we, as a collective, resist the temptation to fold when a facet of white supremacy superficially seems to feel good.
The holiday season may feel good on the surface level, but freedom feels better. It is not freedom to sing over the cries of those sacrificed for the same system that continues to regard blacks as sub-humans worthy of subjugation, humiliation, and murder. The same system that capitalized on this performative happiness to breed the two attributes that maintain this white supremacist nation—power and money.
Now, when I think back on Thanksgivings past, I do so with a guilt and embarrassment. So while my memories are filled with the faces of many I will never see again in life, my heart hangs heavy in not creating enough of our own occasions to see and celebrate one another. I view these old versions of myself as acquiescing to a system by performing a happiness that one cannot have when possessed by the systemic tyranny of white supremacy.
To implement the language of the late great Malcolm X, we as a people have been “bamboozled.” We have been tricked and deceived. We as a collective have been hypnotized into sitting at a dinner table to celebrate white victory. Rather than plan our escape from the racial labyrinth, many within the collective will perform as told—eating themselves into a stupor, placing gratitude where they should place grief.
Rather than contemplate the fate of this countries first inhabitants, many will mimic their naivety and trust for a people not even deserving of a proper salutation—destined to repeat the fateful ending of a story buried beneath dead turkeys. A story that ends in a massacre mirrored in the symbolic “blackness” of the holiday that follows, where the fictive sentimentality of Thanksgiving precedes the capitalistic fervor of the “giving” season. The “giving season” of course refers to the “season” where the oppressed “give” to their masters.
So just as centuries ago whites ate with those they would soon massacre and steal their land, white supremacists allow the oppressed to feast, before they are feasted on by the hollow promise of the “holiday” season. Except now, due to centuries of ingraining the sorcery of white supremacy into their objects, whites need not take, but receive what the oppressed now readily give as part of a performative happiness.
In closing, I want to emphasize that the intention of this post is criticize any individual, but a system that renders its supremacy in a serenade of poultry, parades, and pumpkin pie. Nevertheless, whatever you choose to do today or any other day throughout the year, I hope that at the very least this post will prove food for thought.