Video: Do we need to decolonize Thanksgiving?

This week the University of Oregon hosted an event called “Thanks But No Thanks-giving.” Here’s a description of the event, which was scheduled for yesterday, from the school’s website:

Millions of families gather together every year to celebrate Thanksgiving in the United States. Many Americans do not grow up thinking much of the history behind the holiday. The main messages are that of gratitude, food, and family; however, Thanksgiving is, foundationally speaking, a celebration of the ongoing genocide against native peoples and cultures across the globe. In collaboration with the Native American Student Association (NASU), we will focus on ways in which we can continue to show gratitude while raising our critical consciousness and identifying ways to decolonize the holiday.

According to the Facebook page for the event, 63 people attended but the organizers say the number was over 100. The most active discussion the page appears to be a disagreement over whether Thanksgiving should be made a vegan holiday.

Campus Reform sent a correspondent onto the campus to ask students how they felt about Thanksgiving and whether or not it was a racist holiday. The response was pretty typical, i.e. a mix of willingness to entertain any left-wing idea, confusion, and some resistance:

“There’s definitely a racist history to Thanksgiving and that should probably definitely be addressed more in education,” one student said…

Yet another student characterized Turkey Day as “racist,” because “we’re celebrating taking away land from Natives.”…

“I think the more important part is more the message of Thanksgiving, to be thankful for what you have, thankful for the people around you who are willing to help you,” one student pointed out.

I can see why Native Americans (the campus event was partly hosted by Native American law students) would find this holiday troubling. We’re taught in elementary school about the pilgrims and the Native Americans joining together and celebrating by bringing what they had to a harvest meal. But the reality is that both sides were fighting before long. And in the long run, Europeans did colonize the entire country. So, from a certain perspective, this isn’t really something everyone is going to feel great about celebrating.

But I suspect most people celebrating Thanksgiving this week aren’t thinking about all of that. Most people are thinking about getting together with their family, having some good food, watching some football and, maybe, being glad for what they have. That doesn’t seem like a bad thing and efforts to politicize the holiday only seem to be an intrusion on what the holiday has become.

Here’s the clip from Campus Reform:

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David Strom 4:01 PM on October 05, 2022