Today I’m counseling a White Grandmother who wants to avoid politics on Thanksgiving but her Multiracial Black/Native granddaughters have a different idea.
Not sure if this is the place to write, but I am a white grandma who looks forward to hosting my beautiful, diverse family every year for Thanksgiving. The problem is that two of my teenage granddaughters are boycotting this year because they say Thanksgiving commemorates the genocide of Native Americans and we should not celebrate it at all. These girls are both adopted and mixed race, Black and Native American so they say this is personal to them. I love them both with all my heart and their proposed boycott breaks my heart.
I understand their feelings, and I am proud that they are speaking out on behalf of their values. But this is the only time of year I can get my whole family under one roof. I’m an old lady and don’t know how many more years we have together. I am not one to say leave politics away from the dinner table, but I wish we could overlook it just for this one holiday.
Wishing for my grandgirls
This is a true dilemma. You love your family and want them surrounding you on this fraught, complicated and much revered day in the American calendar. But you also respect your granddaughters’ right to speak their minds.
You are not alone. All over the country, the debate is being played out: To celebrate Thanksgiving, despite what we now know about history? Or to boycott the holiday altogether in solidarity with native victims of genocide? I believe every family, every individual must decide what is right for themselves.
In the meantime, Grandma, you make a powerful case for family togetherness. I propose reaching out personally to your granddaughters, inviting them to present their ideas to the family, who will gather Thursday for a day of National Education and Reflection. (Which will culminate in a fabulous turkey dinner). Encourage the girls to create a video or another type of presentation to educate the rest of the family about what really happened on the first Thanksgiving or about what they view as problematic about the holiday.
On the night itself, you—or an appointed assistant—can be the MC. After the girls present their thoughts, the whole family can discuss them in a civilized manner, and then brainstorm about how you all would like to honor history in future years.
Tell the girls that, if they boycott this year, not only will everyone miss them, everyone will also miss an opportunity to hear the statement they are making.
In closing, I am going to leave you with this powerful video from Teen Vogue, showing six Native teen girls explaining their feelings about the Thanksgiving Holiday. I think you will find it illuminating.
Best Wishes for the Holiday, however you choose to acknowledge it.