It’s Thanksgiving in the US today. The last two years, I’ve posted about my discomfort with this holiday. White colonialism isn’t really a thing I’m into celebrating, particularly when it hasn’t ended and we continue to refuse to own up to that.
This year, I’m thinking about Thanksgiving and Black Friday, and how they relate.
My initial thought was, “oh, what contrast there is between a day that’s ostensibly about gratitude and the very next day that is all about capitalism and the acquisition of stuff.” And then I thought about it some more, and realized that there’s not a lot of actual difference between the two days at all.
Thanksgiving is the holiday where we pay lip service to gratitude and ignore our history of colonialism and the slaughter and displacement of Indigenous people, all fueled by greed. On Black Friday, we have our external demonstration that our values haven’t changed.
People literally die on Black Friday in their quest to get a good deal on stuff they probably don’t need. Let’s put that another way: People literally kill other human beings over stuff they probably don’t need on Black Friday. And we don’t do anything about it. If anything, the craze gets worse every year. Which seems to be the quintessential America way of dealing with preventable tragedy. (See also: the 95 mass shootings that have happened in the US since 1982.)
I don’t want to pay lip service to gratitude; I don’t want to do it one day a year, and I certainly don’t want to save it for a holiday that’s built on lies. I want to be grateful every damn day. To that end, I’ve been trying for the past couple of months to list three things I’m grateful for every morning when I get up and every night before I go to bed. I want to keep an attitude of “thanksgiving” every day of the year.
Part of being grateful is sharing what we’ve got when we recognize we have more than we need. There are links in both of the blog posts linked in the first line of this post to organizations that I’ve suggested donating to on past Thanksgivings; here a few more:
The Marsha P. Johnson Institute
Greater Chicago Food Depository
Chicago Community Bond Fund
Transgender Law Center