Each and every time this exchange takes place the person I'm talking to always responds to my response with some version of "I don't really celebrate Thanksgiving, the 4th, etc. either. I just use the time to get together with loved ones, etc." I always smile at them and usually say no more, but I'm always thinking "if you call it Thanksgiving, then you are celebrating Thanksgiving." And, I know they call it Thanksgiving because they just wished me one. In fact, literally everything people do on that Thursday is related to the methodology that defines the so-called Thanksgiving holiday. People come together and eat turkey, cranberry sauce, dressing, etc. There are changes to the so-called traditional menu these days, but the basic premise remains the same. People watch football on television and when the food is served, at least in African households, the prayer that's delivered always has some message of "thanks for what we have." All of that, whether we recognize it or not, is the formula for celebrating Thanksgiving and the reason why the capitalist system promotes the holiday in the first place. Well, actually, there are two major reasons. One reason is economic. To stimulate the travel, food, hotel, rent a car, etc. industries, but the other reason is to reaffirm the subtle message that this land doesn't actually belong to the Indigenous people it was stolen from. "This land is your land...This land is my land." And, this false narrative that on Thursday, somewhere buried underneath the football, eating, drinking, etc., is the idea that we have all of those comforts because this is such a great country to provide us with all of those things. As long as any portion of us believes that message than we miss completely the reality that the wealth of this country, which all of us benefit from, was stolen from our own peoples and continues to be stolen from our own peoples and from all of humanity. Also, once we accept this version of history, on either a conscious or subconscious level, we then have the obligation to defend this immorality. Its this thinking that explains this fear so many people have in this country that somebody somewhere is a threat to take something from you e.g. Africans, Indigenous people, immigrants, Trans people, Islam, women, etc.
The above are all of the reasons why I appreciate the offers I get to partake every year, but why I politely prefer to spend time apart from that hypocrisy. I'd much rather be at the Hot Springs reading an inspirational book and for that, I'd love to have people accompanying me because I'm never anti-social. Just anti injustice and anything that attempts to hide and/or dismiss injustice and that's exactly what "Thanksgiving" and all their imperialist holidays do.
None of this is a criticism against people for getting together for some fun. People in the U.S. work more cumulative hours than any people in the so-called industrialized world, so I'm going to be the last person to shame anyone for wanting some down time of food and fun, etc. My issue is you can't do all of the things most of us are doing and pretend you aren't celebrating exactly what the system wants you to celebrate. The damage of this is the backward values it instills in each of us and especially in the children.
There are many people who are making honest, sincere, and very creative efforts to combat the imperialist narrative and these folks are to be commended for their efforts. A very good friend in Portland, Oregon, U.S., named Pete and his partner Jessica are some of those creative people. They always open up their house to people on these days and offer food and refuge. They make it clear its not about "Thanksgiving" and the key is they intentionally don't call their gathering that. Plus, although I have never had the privilege of attending their get together, I'm pretty sure from what I know of them that they don't do the typical "Thanksgiving" activities previously mentioned. I'm sure there are vibrant and fruitful discussions during their gathering and I know many other people are doing similar invites. I'm hopeful this movement grows because capitalism seeks to isolate people and make us believe everything that's not as we like it to be is 100% because of flaws within us. These efforts to challenge imperialism's stamp of propaganda do a lot to make people feel genuinely included, not for what they have, but for who they are. We are revolutionary Pan-Africanists which means we are culturally and politically collective so of course, we see enormous value in this approach and we encourage everyone to continue in this trend. Just remember not to call it "Thanksgiving" and be even more pronounced about letting people know that your gathering is on a completely different vibe. Have the youth say grace if you do that and that grace should be giving thanks for all those who have struggled to bring justice to our world and continued commitment to continue to fight. Wherever I end up for dinner on Thursday, I'll be saying grace for three years since comrade Fidel Castro physically left us. I'll be asking for strength in carrying on his exemplary example of humanity for the rest of my days. Nothing could be farther from the backward "Thanksgiving" sellout narrative. Propaganda is important. That's why as I left work Friday I shouted "death to the pilgrims!"