"Everything You Know About Thanksgiving Is WRONG."

[Content Note: Discussion of colonialist racism and violence.]

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the United States, and here is a terrific video care of Franchesca Ramsey, aka @chescaleigh, reminding us that its commonly taught history is bullshit, and that it's a function of privilege to be able to celebrate it while ignoring that the fairy tale at its center osfuscates violent colonialism. Happy Thanksgiving!

A black family—Mom, Dad, Auntie, Grandpa, Older Sister (Franchesca Ramsey), and Younger Sister—sit around a dining room table eating Thanksgiving dinner and laughing.

Mom: —and I'm thankful for my kindergarten class, who made these wonderful crafts to celebrate Thanksgiving.

[She pulls out from a box a construction paper pilgrim hat, puts the hat on her head, and passes on the box so everyone else can grab one and put it on.]

Grandpa: [reading from a piece of artwork from the box] "After the Native Americans helped the Pilgrims survive their first winter in America, the Puritans invited them to share the first Thanksgiving."

[He holds up the picture for everyone to see, and they make approving noises.]

Older Sister: [takes the picture] Aww these are adorably wrong. [she tears it in half]

Mom: A five-year-old made that.

Older Sister: Based off of the lies that you taught them!

[Younger Sister makes an "oh shit!" face and glances sideways at Mom.]

Mom: [through a gritted-teeth smile] Excuse me?

Older Sister: Oh, it's not your fault! [holds up US history book] These are full of half-truths and historical propaganda! [tosses book over her shoulder]

Younger Sister: I thought the Native Americans and the Pilgrims were, like, besties or whatever.

[Grandpa nods and looks at Older Sister.]

Older Sister: At best, the Pilgrims and Wampanoags could best be described as [she makes air quotes] "political allies." [Auntie makes a "huh?" face] By the time the Pilgrims showed up, not only were two-thirds of the Massachusetts tribes completely wiped out by European slave-owners and diseases [she smashes construction paper teepees on the table] the Pilgrims were constantly at war with the indigenous people and routinely tortured them. [she dumps two small human figures into the gravy boat]

Grandpa: But what about Squanto [Auntie holds up a child's drawing of the Squanto tale] the Native American who learned English to help out the Pilgrims?

Older Sister: He was actually a slave who was hauled off to Europe [she makes a big X across the drawing Auntie is holding] and then he learned English so that he could escape.

Dad: [trying to save it with a big grin] But they did celebrate it every year, right?

Older Sister: Not exactly. [Dads face falls] The next one was sixteen years later. And unfortunately, it was because the Puritans were celebrating the massacre of the Pequot Tribe. Back then, Thanksgiving was also for families! Specifically—murdering them.

Auntie: Okay! We get it! History is awful! The Puritans were terrible! And now we have to let our children know that the holiday started with tons of killings! Happy?!

Older Sister: Wellllll, we actually have just about everything wrong with the Thanksgiving myth. [she stands up and begins walking around the table, plucking off everyone's Pilgrim hats] Definitely didn't wear these buckle hats! [picks up a rock on the table labeled "Plymouth" and tosses it away] Didn't land on Plymouth Rock! And as for that turkey—

Dad: Oh no, not the turkey.

Older Sister: More like venison, foul, and eel. [plops a big ol' eel on Dad's plate]

Mom: [recoiling] Oh!

Younger Sister: Who cares about how this stupid holiday got started, anyway?

Older Sister: Exactly! In George Washington's 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation, the settlers aren't mentioned, not even once. Thanksgiving wasn't celebrated nationwide until 1863, when this guy [holds out a picture of Abraham Lincoln] declared it a national holiday during the Civil War in order to bring the country together. [she puts construction paper stovepipe hats on everyone's heads] That's why all of our foods are from the 19th century.

Auntie: So Lincoln came up with the whole Indian-Pilgrim story.

Older Sister: Nope! That myth didn't catch on 'til the 1900s, after we had fought and killed all the Native Americans. And then we put it in textbooks as fact! Because America! [takes a bite of food, while everyone else looks shellshocked] But the good is really good, and if you ignore all the terrible history, you know, like the murdering, the raping, the pillaging, it's still kind of a great holiday!

[Everyone stares. Mom scowls.]

Dad: So the Mayflower is a lie!

Grandpa: Why do we eat cranberry sauce?

Auntie: What about stuffing?

Younger Sister: Is Black Friday really just a capitalist conspiracy to get poor people to buy things so we can't truly lead a populist revolt?

[Everyone starts talking at Older Sister, who picks up her glass of wine.]

Older Sister: I am never telling you the truth ever again! [drinks]

Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus