Thanksgiving and Black Friday: Re-Examined

By Ariana Campellone

Photo Credit: Ariana Campellone

Photo Credit: Ariana Campellone

In second grade, at my Catholic elementary school, we used construction paper to create “Indian” and “Pilgrim” garb, so that we could act out and learn about Thanksgiving through an imaginary feast. I cringe at this memory. Native Americans were presented as a part of history, and the modern generations were never discussed. After taking Nola Hadley’s Native American History and Culture course at BCC, and learning for the first time in my life about the actual history of what we now refer to as the USA, I developed emotional reactions to memories of learning about American History. Nola’s class informed me of the present-day challenges that face the indigenous populations of this nation, and how that came to be. I learned about the great diversity of Native cultures, and gained an understanding that there were actually hundreds of different nations within the boundaries we now define as America. Historical ideas of Thanksgiving vary— the themes of Natives, Pilgrims, and a successful harvest seem to be fictitiously arranged. Whatever is known or unknown about the origin of this tradition, it is widely agreed upon that today it serves as an opportunity to give thanks. Gratitude is the opposite of desiring; it is a feeling of abundance, rather than scarcity. And yet, the lines between Thanksgiving and Black Friday are losing opacity. Black Friday is an anxious consumer melee, which provokes competitive behavior. We all know Americans lose it for a deal, but… since when does Christmas shopping include fatal tramplings, fatal shootings, employee strikes, and general mayhem? Beginning in the early 2000’s, the chaos has been newsworthy and progressing in terms of absurdity with each year. The retailers have been feeding on eager energy and opening stores earlier and earlier, forcing retail employees to forgo family time. Have you ever stopped to consider what a “door buster” deal is? It’s no joke. The competitive and aggressive nature of this day, masked behind our already- masked holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas, reflect feelings of need, and to feel need you must first feel a lack thereof. Moments after we express our gratitude for the abundance in our lives, we are rushed by advertisements to get the best deals, before they are gone! The tone created induces anxiety. We can abstain from the madness! This year, let’s take the time to learn about Native history. The Indigenous People’s Sunrise Gathering on Alcatraz Island, November 27th, 2014 Commemorating the Alcatraz Occupation by “Indians of All Tribes” from 1969-71 Support our local economy http://buylocalberkeley.org

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