Here is a piece from my old friend Darryl Wellington, which just came out in the Progressive Media Project. Sounds like a good idea to me, though the name “Family and Early American Heritage Day” is a bit of a mouthful.
Spare me the school-assembly version of Thanksgiving.
Since I was in grammar school, I’ve seen these misleading re-enactments. The Thanksgiving plays and celebrations glamorize the relationship between the Pilgrims and American Indians. They falsely portray the Pilgrims as the ones who allowed the indians to sup with them, rather than vice versa.
And they erase the genocide against Indians that followed….
Thanksgiving is America’s guilty holiday, a kind of camouflage, a symbolic excuse to ignore the elimination of whole populations of indigenous Americans by disease or war.
The Pilgrims displayed a distinct lack of generosity when Indians began dying from smallpox.
“It pleased God to afflict these Indians with such a deadly sickness, that out of 1,000, over 950 of them died, and many of them lay rotting above the ground for want of burial,” wrote William Bradford, governor of Plymouth Colony.
No, the Pilgrims were not architects of all the injustices against Indians. But they set the tone.
We do not have to remain stuck helplessly in a yearly cycle of guilty silence, hoping that Thanksgiving doesn’t seem at its crassest – to be “giving thanks” for exterminated Indians.
Instead, we should petition Congress to rename the holiday. A more appropriate name would be “Family and Early American Heritage Day” to honor all peoples of colonial history….
See Darryl’s entire column at http://www.sacbee.com/2010/11/18/3195003/lets-change-the-name-of-thanksgiving.html#ixzz167W0hp9l