American children are told a bullshit story about the first Thanksgiving. The story goes like this: The Europeans and the people who had been living in what is now the United States for the previous 14,000 or so years put aside their petty differences, shared a feast, and gave thanks to their preferred deities for their new best friends.
I haven’t been an American child for quite some time, but I know they’re still hearing the story because yesterday on my way home from work I saw a little white girl in a paper headdress with neon-colored feathers glued to it and a probably-very-offensive “Indian name”* written across the front.
Thanksgiving may be a story we tell ourselves so we won’t have to think about the genocide that made our lives possible, but it’s not racist to reflect on your good fortune once in a while. If there are people you love in the world, if you have turkey or tofurky or three different kinds of pie at your disposal, you have a reason to be glad. Not thankful, necessarily, but glad.
I propose that we keep Thanksgiving** but stop telling the bullshit story about “pilgrims and Indians”*** and maybe drop the nationalism piece altogether. Who’s with me?
*This is in scare quotes because 1) I’m not sure if it was a real name or just something a white person thought sounded good and 2) the trickiness of using the same word to describe people from India and the people who discovered North America, which was at the time very racist but is currently (I think) not considered racist.
**Even if you don’t believe in a deity, you can thank your favorite people for being great.
***I’m really uncomfortable with this.