Is celebrating Thanksgiving really harmless?
I know a lot of people celebrate Thanksgiving, including Muslims, because how can being grateful and spending time with family ever be wrong, right? Well, when a holiday is rooted in the oppression and extermination of a people and culture, I personally think that no matter what you call it, it’s wrong.
Celebrating Thanksgiving doesn’t make you a bad person. It just calls for more awareness. We should be more conscious of the traditions we choose to uphold. America has quite the graphic and violent history, much of which we have yet to acknowledge and atone for.
Calling for Columbus Day to be renamed Indigenous People’s day is awesome. Tearing down statues commemorating racist men who perpetrated terrible acts is great, and not celebrating the horrendous acts that devastated a whole people would also be great.
Here are some reasons why I don’t celebrate Thanksgiving.
1. I am Muslim.
Hear me out, I’m not saying you aren’t Muslim if you celebrate Thanksgiving.
Muslims have specific religious holidays that we celebrate. You may say, “Well, Thanksgiving is not religious.” That’s true but it is rooted in immorality, and we as Muslims have a history of social justice work and an obligation to moral living. So, shouldn’t we be at the forefront of not upholding “holidays” that celebrate a horrendous history?
Not to mention that Indigenous peoples are still fighting for their rights. Last Thanksgiving, water protectors were being mauled down, thrown in jail and assaulted for protecting our water. WATER! So, it’s not like time has healed any wounds. We ignore it and then celebrate it every year under the disguise of family and thankfulness.
2. History Matters
We pretty much make up a reason for celebrating Thanksgiving, as if its historical context has no weight. Thanksgiving was created for a reason, we can’t just erase that. Commemorating the beginning of the end of people is not something to be grateful for.
You want a holiday? How about a national day of apology, in which we seek to atone for our countries atrocities and ask for forgiveness from Indigenous people’s? Or a day of appreciation? Thanksgiving is about White people stealing, it should instead be about paying respects to the Indigenous people who were murdered and the strength they now must wield to reckon with such a brutal history. It’s a sad day. A day to recognize how strong Indigenous peoples were and are, the violence that was (and is) perpetrated against them and their place in this country today.
What if it was you? What if we celebrated the murder, rape or genocide of Black people, or Palestinians or women etc. and your fellow Americans observing such a celebration simply said, “It’s just a day of thanks to me,” with total disregard for the history and plight of your people?
3. Thanks Should be Ongoing and Sincere
Giving thanks should be constant and sincere. If we want an entire day dedicated to thanks than let’s be more deliberate about it. Let’s step away from a day marred by a horrendous past. How about we take a stand against Thanksgiving because celebrating genocide is never okay and establish an actual day of thanks and gratitude?
This holiday should pay homage to the Indigenous peoples who have suffered and continue to do so in this country. If anything, this day shouldn’t just be about us and how thankful we are but more so about the stories and journeys of Indigenous peoples and how we can find active ways to say sorry and celebrate them.
Most people mean no harm by celebrating Thanksgiving, but whatever your intention the history and brutality are real and there is no way of getting around that. We need to redefine our society and stop upholding White-supremacist holidays and historical perspectives.