This is “Her Majesty’s first return home from college for a holiday; Thanksgiving, 2016. She is 19, and a member of that Millennial group that’s entering that necessary but annoying age. She informed us, in a telephone call, that she will be coming home for a Thanksgiving break. Before arrival, she explained to us why she wouldn’t dare miss “Turkey Day” this year—or ever.
Then she corrected herself and said, “Well, I may miss some, but I definitely won’t miss it this year. I will drive home after an exam because students are essentially kicked out of the dorms for the holiday”.
“Anyway”, she continued flightily, “When I get there, as soon as I hit the door, I expect to smell the aroma of ‘greens, peas, beans, tomatoes, potatoes or fatback, yams’ and whatever else it is that Ms. Shirley Caesar mentions in a catchy jingle on Facebook, to hit me in the face like an unexpected quiz on a Monday Morning.”
As the family prepares for Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday afternoon, I will imagine turning to my spouse, as he stirs the greens, and saying shyly, (mainly because I did not contribute to the cooking of the meal.) “We’re going to eat, or what?” And Her Majesty will chime in, “yeah, or what!”
I will also imagine, as we are preparing to sit for dinner, that a vision will appear in my mind. It will be Pilgrims eating peacefully with American Indians at a shared harvest feast. The image will not mirror a true picture of the founding of this country—one typically framed as though there was a willingness of the Natives to hand over their land to Whites?
The Natives also share a history with Blacks, and neither does this image present a true picture of Black’s and Native American’s history of violence and oppression.
The true story is that there are members of both Black and Native groups that work every day to keep this country’s feet to the fire, in an effort to control rampant racial inequality and terror that has continued for centuries.
Thanksgiving is truly a tough holiday to process. Regardless, Black people have a true love for the Thanksgiving holiday that is defined greatly by oppression at the hands of the White majority. This holiday has a special place in the Black family. It is full of pain and joy, stark awareness, and carefree celebration as are all our traditions.
Amidst the special love of Thanksgiving—oppression, pain and joy—remain.
Blacks still remember the joy of 2008, and the aftermath of President Barack Obama’s Election for President of the United States. In a quote from Time Magazine by Steven Gray, “Much of black America is still struggling to grasp the full meaning of Barack Obama’s election to the presidency. The overall mood was awash with pride but shaded with angst.”
There was a lot of anxiety. Yet, In the article, Gray says, “we jumped up, we wept, we hooped and hollered.” It is hard to overestimate the historical significance of the election of the first black U.S. President. For many blacks, certainly for much of the country and world, Obama’s victory was an extraordinary step toward the redemption of America’s original 400-year-old sin.
Over the past eight years, we have experienced the work that President Barack Obama has done to improve the lives of all Americans, including African Americans, by providing economic and educational opportunities, improving healthcare coverage, working to ensure that the criminal justice system is applied fairly to all citizens, and championing workforce development to ensure we continue to develop.
Also, cited in Time Magazine’s Steven Grays article, “There’s was no doubt that Obama’s candidacy represented the shattering of many of the racial barriers that had long been entrenched in America. Our country was showing its forward evolution, that the color of one’s skin cannot inhibit one’s ability.”
How do Blacks feel now that Mr. Obama’s term has expired? Black voters are now grappling with the idea of a new president whose tone, personal history and policy pronouncements fly in the face of so much of the social justice agenda many have fought decades for, including gains made under Mr. Obama. Latino, Black and Muslim voters, each with their own issues and agendas, are bracing for a long four years.
Thanksgiving can be a thorn in your side that may result in exhaustion and stress from traveling, preparing dinner, preparing for visits from relatives; yet it remains that Thanksgiving is a time for giving thanks! So, if you’re watching a football game, visiting relatives, or whatever activity, of which you may partake, please rest, relax, and above all, GIVE THANKS!! HAPPY THANKSGIVING!