Tryptophan Sedates Me, Too

Jose Vilson 9 Comments

Thanksgiving SecurityIn 2000, when I finally had the language to express my frustrations and quandaries about the state and history of America, I started to refer to Thanksgiving as “Happy Indigenous Slaughter Day” to commemorate the millions of indigenous people slaughtered by the incumbent European oppressors who pillaged, raped, and committed ruthless genocide amongst the many across this hemisphere (and in other continents). The history of these states demand that we appropriate the more tender (and proportionally few) moments of those events: people of different origins celebrating together after months of long and arduous travels where we can commune in peace with our families. Unfortunately, just like the day itself, that’s too far from the truth. It’s an ideal that we can strive for, and sometimes substantiate enough to mimic such joyous feelings, but the word Thanksgiving irks me some.

And I hate to be labeled as the Angry Black Latino Man (which I am, and I acknowledge in parts), but this should be a time to reflect upon why it is that we’re truly thankful and why we choose this day to do so. Are we thankful for the families that we have and if so, what role do we play in making those families a beacon of our inspiration? Are we thankful for the freedoms we supposedly have and the virtues of peace and love we hold so dear to us while men and women throw weapons of mass destruction at one another for the very same cause? Are we thankful for having something to eat and sleep at night while our comforts allow for this hapless yet conniving administration to sedate us while they continue to proliferate an underbelly of their imperialist regime?

Or is it simpler than that?

How many of us come from families that don’t have any dirty secrets about each other? How many of us don’t celebrate Thanksgiving because they’re tired of pretending to like the person sitting across from them? How many of us wish we could have people sit around a table and just eat? How many of us hate our jobs and wish this day off would never end? How many of us feel unappreciated and lonely on this day of thanks? How many of us want something to truly be thankful for?

As much as I hate to say it, just being right here right now makes me an accomplice to what we do this every arena … unless of course I raise my hand. Unless of course, I seek to change the course in my family, my friends, and the country I live in. Bring back the soldiers and let’s help the ones who aren’t as fortunate as we are right here. There’s no reason to believe we don’t all hold a stake in making Thanksgiving a holy day, and a time to truly revolutionize what’s happening in our lives.

In many ways, this musing really serves as an all-reaching prayer, hoping we all find something to be thankful for in these troubling times.

Cheers …

jose, who’s grown up a bit since Y2K …

About Jose Vilson

José Luis Vilson is a math educator, blogger, speaker, and activist. For more of my writing, buy my book This Is Not A Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education, on sale now.

Comments 9

  1. Shelly

    Nice post, I’m feeling your words.

    Being British, Thanksgiving doesn’t exist for me outside of American movies and TV but from what I understand, the whole ethos behind it is hypocritical to say the least. A holiday conjured up in order to smudge over the horrors it is truly based on; a shallow attempt to wash away the sins and the the subsequent guilt of the “founding fathers”…

    Anyway I believe in expressing gratitude as often as possible, every day of our lives. I say a small prayer of thanks every time I eat, every time I take a hot bath or buy new clothes or enjoy time with my family… whatever. Not that I’m trying to come across as holier than thou (far from it!) but I just try and NEVER take anything for granted. Ever.

    Hope you had a good day however you feel about it. And here’s to the blessings of tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that…. :-)

  2. Hugh O'Donnell aka Repairman

    PS: You cartoon reminds me of a scene in a book I just read. The protagonist goes into a bar (this is in Wyoming, mind you), and another main character, a Native American woman, is wearing a sweatshirt that has a picture four warriors in full battle regalia galloping across the front of the garment. The caption reads: “Homeland Security: On the Job Since 1492.”

  3. Alisha

    Great post, Jose, and an extremely valid perspective. I do enjoy Thanksgiving because it gives my family (or the other people who can actually cook) an excuse to cook and have me brink the drinks and paperware!!! However, my family is guilty of hangin out like this on a totally random Sunday, as well. We (as a fam) did decide to take the kids to prepare food for/feed the less fortunate in the future – to take less of the focus off of “us” and put the focus on people who need . . .

  4. Post
    Author
    Jose

    @ everyone, thanks for the comments. I enjoy Thanksgiving usually, too, but sometimes it does get kinda ugly for other folks. And for a while, I was contemplating not even celebrating Thanksgiving, but I couldn’t resist a good turkey and pernil dinner if I could.

    @ Hugh: I believe I can get that t-shirt now. I won’t, but I can.

  5. LuzMaria

    Very interesting post!! Holidays are always pegged as the time to bring the family together. Always seems that this time of year brings either great joy or stress because sometimes family dynamics can be quite interesting. Also in American history, the Thanksgiving holiday has always been romanticized.

    Glad you had a great dinner with your family.

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