Ah, Thanksgiving. Everyone’s favorite official-yet-unofficial holiday. Retailers don’t really know what to do with it, since they tend to jump from a Halloween marketing blitzkrieg straight into Christmas marketing overexposure, but that doesn’t matter right now. All that matters is that Thanksgiving is that in-between holiday that chiefly exists for us to nearly and unabashedly gorge ourselves to death, and I’m here for it.
As with most holidays invented by this Orange States of America, Thanksgiving is as problematic as any holiday can get ... mostly because First Nation people, Native Americans, black Americans and other people of color have long known that them white people who fucked around and ended up on that motherfucking rock via a boat that sounds like some fancy strain of weed weren’t as nice as “history” says they were ... and also didn’t fucking exist.
But before I get to that, let me first tackle all the ways to make your Thanksgiving dinner as unproblematic as possible:
1. If possible, avoid the dreaded Thanksgiving potluck at work.
For those of us who work normal 9-to-5s or work some kind of job that’s having us clock in standard, full-time hours, it is but a mere inevitability that one’s place of work will send that email announcing the yearly Thanksgiving potluck.
And you will get wartime flashbacks of Susan from accounting bringing in the driest turkey known to man. And Chet from human resources bringing in dressing that looks more depressed than I feel daily. Or Jessica from upstairs bringing in macaroni and cheese that looks like it could puncture your esophagus on its way down and was historically used to scrape gum off the underbelly of middle school detention desks. And you will remember how Black Jesus did not die for your taste buds to be subjugated in such a manner.
It will happen. And you will not be able to stop it. Better black people before you have tried.
With that being the case, avoiding it is possible and in your best interest. How, you ask? Well, if you have any unused personal-time-off or sick days, now is definitely the time to let those babies fly. On the flip side, if you’re like me and have already planned yours out (re: Black Panther), your best bet is bringing your own lunch and pretending you just went vegan and you either can’t and/or you refuse to eat anything or you just recently developed a lactose or gluten allergy.
Which brings me to my next point:
2. Ask who made the (insert a sacred dish here) for your own good.
Wherever you find yourself during Thanksgiving, whether it be at work or at your usual Thanksgiving spot, it would be in your best interest to check who made any sacred dishes at your chosen location.
For most black people, that sacred dish is usually mac and cheese. And while I hope you never taste mac and cheese that is bursting at the seams with unseasoned oppression, God forbid that you were the one who actually made the cheesy bastardization because then you would immediately be exiled and forced to wander the desert for 40 years like them hardheaded-ass Israelites. There, you would await possible re-entry into blackness if you didn’t croak first and end up hungry, ashy and alone.
And don’t be from West Africa (or any of the Caribbean Islands), either, because if you fuck up rice in particular, no one will ever hear from you again.
3. If you are in an interracial relationship, consider whose Thanksgiving dinner you’ll attend.
Contrary to popular belief, even though the Golden Globes has shit twisted and named Get Out, the critical horror smash hit, a comedy, it is not a comedy. There was nothing kikiki-funny about it. In fact, the film is so horrifying and so true to life that director Jordan Peele called it a documentary.
So with that being the case, IR-ers, heed my cry. Yeah, “love is love,” but I always advise friends who are in interracial relationships to think very carefully about making that harrowing trip to their nonblack partner’s parents’ house for Thanksgiving. This is mostly because the whole damn world is anti-black, but this is particularly a pressing concern if said nonblack partner is melanin-deficient (read: white).
Like it or not, in Trump’s America, this is the shit you have to think about, because even if you want to walk around here believing you’re a new age, “new black” Negro who has somehow transcended space, time and race, I promise you the likelihood is high that you will be seated across from a Trump voter who is ready to show you otherwise at said dinner.
And is that really something you wanna hash out over unseasoned Kraft’s mac and cheese? I think not!
4. If you are in an interracial relationship, if your partner is nonblack and bringing a dish, please have them test it on you first.
If you’ve gotten this far, it’s because you’re smart and heeded the words of rule No. 3. And if that happened, you probably took the Thanksgiving celebrations back to your normal spot. Now, of course, your nonblack partner is still along for the ride and you don’t wanna leave them out, so you invite them. Due to their excitement, they’re probably gonna volunteer to bring something.
This, on paper, is OK. They’re proving they’ve got some home training and aren’t just here to eat all of somebody’s granny’s hard work.
If you love your partner and want to see them prosper and not filleted alive by the Master Jedi Roasters in your family, please have them test out their dish on you first. For the love of God.
Because if you don’t and you allow them to take some nonsense, cardboard dish to your family Thanksgiving dinner, not only will your family have all roast-hands in a 50-mile radius pointed in their direction (as well as the shady looks of every churchgoing woman at the table), but, as their partner, you, too, will be roasted. Your family will roast you alongside your partner and openly wonder for the rest of the weekend whether that’s the shit they really feed you.
And you will only have yourself to blame.
5. Season the goddamn turkey.
This is pretty self-explanatory. If you’re in charge of cooking the turkey, please put more on it than two specks of basil, some thyme, a sprinkle of salt and a glob of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter. Because nothing sets off black people more at a Thanksgiving dinner (other than botched mac and cheese) than a dry and unseasoned turkey. Dry and unseasoned turkey is what world wars are made of.
Save a life. Keep a child alive. Season your goddamn turkey.
6. Do educate yourself about the general, fucked-up history of Thanksgiving.
And finally we circle back to the mystical origins of Thanksgiving.
Now, most of us have rightfully written off Thanksgiving as the white man’s holiday and are only game because we happen to get the day off. It’s like the Fourth of July in that regard. While most of us recognize our black asses weren’t free on July 4, 1776 (Juneteenth is the only independence day I recognize other than Nigeria’s), we have reappropriated the Fourth by deeming it National Black People Cookout Day. And for Thanksgiving, it just so happens to be National Black People Reunion Weekend.
Still, even with us being creative and cool enough to put new, black-ass spins on things, it’s important to keep in mind that this holiday is still pretty painful for our Native siblings.
This is mostly because, as I previously mentioned, this holiday is a sham. There was no kumbaya dinner between pasty Pilgrims and New England Native Americans in 1637. That bum-ass story was made up after World War I in a gross attempt to whitewash the atrocities committed against Native Americans.
And the atrocities in question?
Well, the real “Thanksgiving” was a celebration that commemorated the massacre of a whopping 700 Native Americans of the Pequot Tribe ... and the “safe return” of the hunting bastards who did it. White folks of course forgot (like they conveniently do with everything), but the Native Americans have not and are not required to.
So, while you’re breaking bread and kicking it with friends and family you like (and some you don’t like), keep that in mind. Don’t add to the vicious circle of lies by teaching your kids about some fictional Pilgrim and Native American dinner. You ain’t gotta bombard them with the whole ugly story, but you also ain’t gotta lie, Craig.
That said, may the force of all the seasoning and spices that white people colonized the entire globe for—but still refuse to use—be with you this Thanksgiving.