Thanksgiving is a colonized holiday based on genocide, white supremacy, and cultural domination in multiple forms. Still, with competing narratives and histories even in 2019, it’s the second biggest holiday in America and the start of the so-called “holiday season.” With that, BrownTown reflects on what they were taught in school, considers how they have celebrated in their own homes, and unpacks the holiday on a macro-level.
BrownTown starts by discussing Thanksgiving in conjunction with Columbus’ Day, now recognized by some states/institutions and (more importantly) many people as Indigenous Peoples’ Day. They quickly make the broader argument that traditional settler colonization, though very much alive and well, is even more insidious--manifesting in culture, language, art, etc. With Chicago at the center, BrownTown discusses the Laquan McDonald action on the Magnificent Mile in conjunction with the Macy’s Day Thanksgiving Day Parade as an interrelated anecdote to break down the intersection of capitalism, white supremacy, and the organized resistance to abolish it. Zooming back in to the holiday itself, they self-analyze how to engage (or not) in ceremonial practices with loved ones while acknowledging and supporting the lasting contributions of indigenous peoples. Before the end, the duo covers various surrounding topics including Standing Rock, Chicago Teachers’ Union and SEIU strike, social media engagement around said holidays, and strategies (and lack there of) on having difficult conversations (David mentions the LARA (Listen, Affirm, Respond, and Ask Questions) method; Caullen sorts centrist white liberals into two camps: Nazi and not Nazi).
As these centuries old ago events still plague our present, the fellas discuss how to confront, engage, and support organized resistance for future liberation. This may be as nuanced as talking to your racist uncle at the Thanksgiving dinner table to standing with native climate activists in your community. By any measure, our struggles are interconnected, intersectional.
Originally recorded October 2019.
Some of the MANY Native American Organizations with whom to support: