Happy Subjugation Day
Another Thanksgiving is coming and people are knee deep in the holiday hoopla. Many people are spending mega amounts at the grocery store. More people are trying to travel across the country to get to family. More people are spending another holiday trying to adhere to the programming that says we must gorge ourselves on food around our family. Somewhere along the way we’re supposed to follow the tradition of our European ancestors and give thanks for the bountiful good fortune we’ve had this past year.
There is little doubt that our European ancestors may have had much to celebrate. They were able to dupe the natives in the land that became known as North America into helping them survive in their new land. The Europeans gave thanks for their survival while at the same time giving thanks for having the cold blooded capacity to give their benefactors who helped them survive small pox laden blankets in an early example of germ warfare. The Europeans were also planning to take the land as personal property that the Native Americans had enjoyed as a community resource. While the Europeans were looking to tame the nature of the land to their will the natives of America lived in total harmony with their environment for many millennia. The white people in their new home had a great deal to give thanks for because they had literally changed the world. The propaganda for Thanksgiving says that the natives and the Europeans expatriates celebrated giving spiritual thanks together. But the reality is that we now celebrate the subjugation and transformation of the Native American’s land and the subjugation of the Natives Americans themselves.
It is disappointing that so many people ignorantly celebrate this holiday without a thought as to its true meaning. Yes the people who are more likely to associate themselves as European descendents would celebrate their ancestors destroying the Native American’s world. But it is downright appalling that Africans and people of other ethnicities celebrate the success of these early Europeans without thought. Just imagine the furor if there was a holiday celebrating the Europeans coming to Africa and the commencement of the slave trade. It could be called Liberation Day. The propaganda developed for Liberation Day will show Europeans coming down the ramp from their Liberation ships with big happy smiles and the enslaved black people going up the ramps with their big happy smiles. The Liberation Day propaganda will have the black enslaved people happily liberating the white people from having to work in the fields. The tradition will be that after a day of toiling in the field people will go into the big house to have a meal of southern cooking and hanging little black people from the Liberation tree.
Now it is a given that a lot of people would actually love the idea of the facetious Liberation Day. There are way too many people with a white mindset who actually enjoy the idea of white privilege at the expense of the black community. But there are other people who would actually think that a holiday that celebrates the beginning of the subjugation of black people would be reprehensible. Most people who have some sense of human decency would be appalled at the idea of a holiday to celebrate the birth of slavery. At least they would be appalled in public. Who knows how people would respond in private where so many believe that closet racism is okay.
Regardless, year after year people in America and Americans all over the world celebrate the subjugation and betrayal of the Native American by the Europeans without a care in the world. Every year we tune into the news networks that inform us that traveling this holiday season is expected to be the busiest ever. We get tips on how to move quickly through the airports and how to safely prepare for the navigation through all the security check points. We get tips on how to squeeze extra mileage out of our cars to get better gas mileage. Every year we hear stories on new recipes and ways to prepare our turkey birds or the pineapple laden hams. Every year we tune into the news to see the President pardon the White House turkey and every year we are reminded that the President wouldn’t pardon an innocent black man in Texas convicted on the most circumstantial evidence. And every year we dismiss the fact that Thanksgiving Day marks the end of life as the Native American knew it.
Would it be better if we never celebrated the Native American’s subjugation? Without a doubt the answer should be a resounding yes. But asking people to give up their Thanksgiving traditions is like asking someone to cut off their arms. The traditional entitlements associated with celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday are not up for negotiation. Ask someone their opinion on the subject and you’ll hear a whole litany of reasons why things should continue, “Yes it’s bad what happened to the Indians. But what can you do about it? I’m just along for the ride. It’s just the way it is. I would give it up but I like spending time with my family. Hey, I didn’t take their land. Why should my family and I have to pay for it now? I like the time off.”
So in another day or so the vast majority of Americans will be gorging ourselves on all the Thanksgiving fixings and whooping it up with family as the NFL does its Thanksgiving thing. Most of us will bow our heads and give thanks as a family for all the good fortune we’ve had for the past year. But the good fortune that we celebrate is recognized on a day that exist as the foundation of Native American subjugation. Thanksgiving is a day of infamy for the Native American community. Most people would like to think that they would not want to celebrate the subjugation of others. But in practice it appears that the reality is very different. We would not hesitate to celebrate the subjugation of others if we could get some personal benefit out of it. Good thing Liberation Day never caught on. Too bad Thanksgiving did. Happy Subjugation Day!