Confronting Thanksgiving

“The killings became more and more frenzied with days of Thanksgiving feasts being held after each successful massacre. George Washington finally suggested that only one day of Thanksgiving per year be set aside instead of celebrating each and every massacre.” (Susan Bates)

This is an updated repost from last year, to continue our commitment to raise awareness about the actual origins and impact of this holiday that many of us celebrate without a second thought and to confront the mythologies that encourage us to ignore the real history of Thanksgiving:

no-thanks-no-giving2

We often think of Thanksgiving as a time of family, football, giving thanks and gorging. I used to be of this mindset until learning more about some of the actual roots of this holiday. What I learned was that Thanksgiving has little to do with an amicable meal shared between the Pilgrims and Indians. While there is a documented meal shared at one point, and this is often what is referenced, the “National Holiday” was originally a marker of the celebrations of the massive genocide of Indigenous peoples across the Eastern coast of the US. … Read more

Narratives of White Women Used to Uphold Racism and Patriarchy: A Partial Timeline

This is a timeline we use in White Noise workshops to help make visible dominant representations of white women that have historically served to reinforce, normalize and naturalize forms of racist violence and patriarchal oppression.  How do these narratives of white female sexuality and identity (re)appear in the present? How do they continue to live in our imaginations, bodies, dreams, media, collective consciousness, politics? By no means attempting to be some kind of comprehensive history, but rather pulling out some key threads in the unweaving of structures of domination.  Here we go:

Captivity narratives, stories of women and men of European descent who were captured by Native Americans, were immensely popular in in both the US and Europe from the 17th century until the close of the United States frontier in the late 19th century. A defining genre of American literature that told tales of Indian savagery, the bravery of white male settlers, and the vulnerability of white women in need of protection and rescue.… Read more

the april dialogue: understanding our ancestry

At our second White Noise monthly dialogue, we delved into the topic of ancestry with the intention of looking at how the histories/legacies of our (white/female) ancestors connect to the larger discussion we’ve begun. We began by checking in with affirmations about ourselves and about white women – something we committed previously to doing because we recognize how easy it can be to go instantly into denigrating ourselves and feeling over-responsible for all the problems of the world (something we, as women, have been very effectively trained to do — see the previous blog post for more on this subject).
 
After this round, we read an excerpt from an article (Indians’R’Us) by Ward Churchill that spoke about the need for white folks to reclaim and learn our own heritages (he states “we are all indigenous somewhere”) in order to more effectively combat larger waves of colonization. It spoke to the fact that the white-washing of our personal and cultural histories leaves us more prone to steal traditions from the indigenous folks that remain on the lands we occupy and continue to perpetrate cultural genocide.… Read more