I had mixed feeling about thanksgiving this year. Last year I was kind of a holiday basher, went around asking people how often do they express what they are thankful for or is it something that they only save for Thanksgiving? This year I got offended when I encountered another Thanksgiving basher; her story was why celebrate a holiday where a people were robbed of their culture and their land? I feel her but it’s Thanksgiving. Regardless of who stole what- after all they stole everything- why can’t we just enjoy Thanksgiving? Thanksgiving is actually my favorite holiday because all of the family gets together and we have a ball!
I don’t normally get into all the hype about what are you thankful for because moment by moment I notice many a things that I am thankful for and I openly express it. But here lately, I have learned more and more about being thankful. No one asked me this year, what I am thankful for – and that would happen when I actually would like to be asked- but since no one did, I will just go ahead and say; I am thankful for my ancestors. Not only those who are my actual blood and had something to do with me actually being able to walk among the living, but those who have no blood ties to my family but have touched us in such a way like Marvin Gaye, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Assata Shakur, Betsy Coleman, Sojourner Truth, Maya Angelou, and the list goes on and on and on.
I’ve been thinking a lot about how I spend my time. A lot of my time is spent doing things that will not get a great return on my investment of time. That’s like standing in line at best buy for 3hrs only to get ten percent off your purchase… pointless. And I cannot say that I feel guilty about this but I feel… disappointed, as if someone or some people are watching me and silently shaking their heads because I do not live my life of purpose as I should.
I do not understand, how much was given up, so that I could be here. Yes we’ve heard it before at our homes, in our classes, in our conversations, how much our ancestors went through. But how many of us actually sit down and look at that shit. Look at the fact that we go shopping for Jordan’s when how every many generations ago our people did not have shoes and had to fight for their shoes like the men in “Glory” (Denzell Washington, Morgan Freeman, and Ferris Bueller sp?). Do we take for granted the fact that it is so simple to get some money and go drop that on some J’s? What if tomorrow all shoes disappeared, would we truly know how good we have it.
Or what about the fact that we are simply breathing at this moment? Because right now someone is taking their last breath. What about those ancestors’ lives that were taken, not just by nooses, but because of will, because some of our ancestors jumped overboard and drowned rather than endure what was across the water.
Do I not know what my mother went through when she carried me and nurtured me in her womb for almost nine months ( I was impatient). That she endured morning sickness and nights of pain and discomfort. Morning sickness on the mornings where she wakes up and I am not in my bed, pain and discomfort when I am running the streets at night and she is unable to protect me, as a mother feels she should. The nights that she gave up going shopping with her friends because my brothers and I needed food to eat or clothes to wear.
Do I not know what people like Billie Holiday, Ray Charles, Nina Simone, etc tolerated when their lyrics and songs were stolen? The pressure they endured performing in a society that was so definitely divided? The pressures of performing in a society that felt you had no right to be so damned good at what you do so you had to jump through extra hoops?
Obviously I do not know, because if I knew what they went through so that I can be here and experience the very same things that they denied, I would be thankful. And I wouldn’t only think about it on Thanksgiving but it would be a constant thought implanted in every one of my neurons so that each word I speak and action I do is a reflection of who I am and where I come from. At this moment I realized I have lived my life short of that, the good thing about it though is now that I am aware, I can make a conscious decision to change both my thoughts and actions. I am grateful for the sacrifices made so that I can have life, and have it more abundantly; and each thought, word, and action –starting right now- is an expression of this awareness.
So, tell me; what are you thankful for? And are you really, thankful?
© Enigma 2011