Nov 27, 2015 - Thanksgiving Day Conversation: Protests, Refugees, and Native American Heritage Month, By Seven Williams
November is perhaps the most important month of the year for many Americans. You have Election Day, which puts political figures into office. Also Veterans Day, which honors our military veterans for their service. Once those have passed, it’s all about the holiday season. Which means many families get together, eat, talk, and watch football on Thanksgiving. The next morning, thousands of people head out to do early Christmas Shoppers on Black Friday.
With all the things happening lately, not only in United States but around the world, here are some conversations you should be having this Thanksgiving dinner.
1. The killings of unarmed black and brown people by police throughout the country has sparked outrage and created a new generation of activists and grassroots movements. These young people are not afraid and are organizing and demanding justice. These activists aren’t just African Americans either they are Arab, Native American, Latino etc. From Ferguson to college campuses these young people are bringing attention to Police Brutality and Killings as well as other issues of institutional racism. It’s important families take this time to discuss these important issues and how it relates and affects us all. Will we continue to allow our children to be killed in the streets by police? To be discriminated against in school? Or will we join, support or assist those seeking justice, and can we push for policy reform? Should we boycott Black Friday to grab their attention?
2. It’s Native American Heritage month! Discussing history of Indigenous peoples of Americas should be good conversation. Many African Americans and Latinos have Native American blood. Talk with elders in the family to learn about your Indigenous roots. If this day to you is about family, teach the kids to go over the family tree. There should be more of an effort to show support and solidarity for native people. Honor native people and don’t buy into the stereotypes, support mascots or thinking it’s cool to rock a headdress and mock Native Americans. Since it is Thanksgiving, talk about the history of the day. It’s 2015. By now everyone should know that the true history of the day was actually a massacre of Natives and not a peace feast or gathering. And if you don’t know that hundreds of Pequot and Wampanogs were massacred, scalped, and some beheaded, then you definitely need to read up on it. So why are we still allowing the “pilgrims had dinner with Indians” lie to continue? There’s Native Americans in every city; get to know some and learn how much we all have in common.
3. The issue of refugees and immigration is a hot topic. Very important for us to discuss this issue. On a holiday that’s suppose to be about giving thanks and helping others why is this country turning its back on refugees? Especially since this land is filled with refugees from all over the world including the founding fathers. How will denying entry to Syrian refugees affect other immigrant groups? Should Latinos be concerned? Should we as fellow people of color embrace and help other discriminated groups regardless of religion or faith?
4. The 2016 Presidential election is right around the corner. It could be a historical election of the first female president In United States. It’s also one of the elections were there’s no clear cut winner. It simply could go either way- there’s no real favorites yet. This next election could either bring real positive change or continue a downward spiral. Encourage family members to vote and put pressure on candidates on every level to address the needs of the people. I’m sure families and friends will have a lot of things to discuss this holiday. Let’s just make sure we’re having important discussions that affect our communities as well.
Seven Williams (Seminole, Cherokee and Taino) is Independent Filmmaker and Community Organizer from New York who has been working with youth for over 15 years. Leading Hip-Hop and Film workshop as well speaking at youth conferences.