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  • Writer's pictureWeiLi

Thanksgiving - A Day of Mourning

*Please enjoy this desperately-needed, raw piece from our guest blogger, Serena Young*

My Thanksgiving education started in Kindergarten. Mrs. Sadie's class, my feet and hands getting tickled with paintbrushes to stamp into turkey imprints on art paper. Everyone scrambles for the largest googly eyes and glues multicolored feathers as a proud turkey’s tail.

Our school library bookshelves are decorated with stories of the First Thanksgiving and Native Americans and Pocahontas and John Smith. Brown, red, yellow and orange color my vision as I read about the lives of cartoon turkeys and happy Native American children frolicking with the Pilgrims.

We sit criss-cross applesauce while Mrs. Sadie reads to us and I admire the Native Americans who were so kind to share their knowledge and food with strangers. We learned Thanksgiving is about being kind to strangers just like these Native Americans and Pilgrims were kind to each other.

That perfect image was shattered in US History this year. The blindfold tore off, revealing the horrible treatment of Native Americans by the Spanish, English, Americans and an endless list of others through centuries of oppression. The Pilgrims arriving at Plymouth Rock in 1620 signified a long history of violence, genocide and silence of Native Americans.

There are always two sides to every story. Everyone knows about the Wampanoag tribe throwing a feast for the Pilgrims, but no one knows about the Pilgrims robbing Wampanoag graves and stealing their food for survival. In the years to come, more explorers — but let’s call them what they really are: invaders — would surge to claim inhabited territory, destroy soil with foreign plants and kill off animals and Native Americans with their disease and cruelty.

Many Native Americans would call Thanksgiving a day of mourning.

Carved turkey, pumpkin pie

Glistening ruby cranberry sauce

Sharing memories, stories, thanks

Smiles spread like virus

Wiping out entire tribes

Natives forced into labor

Homelands stolen

Gazing into creamy mashed potatoes

Will we remember smashed skulls

Genocide of children

Candied pecans, scent of cinnamon

Heavy, thick, smooth gravy

Heavy hearts, heavy shoulders

Will forgiveness be found

History turns to warnings, lessons


We do not forget

We embrace

The pain, the past, the pressure

Double the love

The grace

The gift

Beautiful families enjoying

Laughing, loving, living

May we remember

And may we be better for it

~ Serena Young

Follow her on Instagram: @loveserenayoung


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