The Bridge: The Giving of Thanks
By Darryl James
“We didn’t land on Plymouth Rock, Plymouth Rock landed on us.’ –Malcolm X
The above quote from Malcolm X is in reference to the celebration of the Pilgrims landing on Plymouth Rock in what they would call New England, ultimately creating the Mayflower Compact and laying the foundation for the United States.
Malcolm used this particular reference, because he understood clearly that the hopes and dreams represented by the metaphor the Plymouth Rock landing represented had an opposing representation for Africans in the New World.
For the Pilgrims, the Plymouth Rock landing represented hopes and dreams of freedom and life filled with prosperity.
For the Africans, the Plymouth Rock landing represented the crushing of hopes and dreams, with nightmares of bondage and death and a legacy of struggle.
When America created the Thanksgiving holiday, it should have specifically called for giving thanks to the Native Americans who were killed and robbed and the African descendants who were enslaved and killed.
In the celebration of the Thanksgiving Holiday, Africans across the world should be paid a debt of thanks at the very least by every race of people in existence.
Specifically, Europeans and their descendants owe us for being the currency and unpaid workforce for the creation of the new nation.
Let’s identify some of those who owe us a debt of gratitude:
First up would be the Italians and the Spaniards, as represented early on by one Christopher Columbus. Columbus, an Italian, was commissioned by the Queen of Spain to find a sailing route to India. The idiot got lost, landed in the Americas and called the people there Indians.
The idiot’s story was romanticized and over the years, we learned in school that he “discovered” America. But what the schools didn’t focus on was that his bumbling in the new land created a storm of brutality against the Native Americans who were robbed of their land and the Africans who were forced into servitude while Europeans poured in to steal the land and the service of the slaves.
To add even more to the gratitude the Italians owe Africans, they were the illegal merchants of pain who dumped Horse in the Black neighborhoods and ran the numbers operations before and after states made their own version of numbers, called The Lottery.
But they were hardly the only ones to prey off of the misery of the African descendant.
Middle Easterners came into our communities in the Sixties after the riots and took over everything the Negroes left behind on their way to integration, wherever that was. They often displaced Jewish businesses as well.
When the Middle Easterners either moved on or moved over, the Koreans came behind them.
But of course the biggest debtors of all are the descendants of Great Britain and other Western European nations, who owned us and treated us like cattle. They made the most money off of us and used us to finance and build a nation that they still don’t want us to share fully in.
Whites in America have taken everything from our inventions to our music, from our style of dress to our manner of speaking and even our hairstyles and skin tone.
Even the two political parties in America used us for political gain. The Republican Party used us to win a war that was ripping the nation apart and after less than one century, abandoned concern for us.
Currently, the Democratic Party tells us just enough sweet convincing lies to lull us into thinking that they are better for us than the party of our original loyalty, but until we become more politically savvy, neither party has to do more than make empty overtures to a few of us.
The first African American President may be a Democrat, but only time will tell if this is a true sign of lasting appreciation, or a temporary relationship based on use and abuse.
My point is that American has made promises unfulfilled and has made attempts to take back promises delivered. Yet, the African descendant is expected to give thanks for the founding of a nation with which we have had a very strange relationship.
Now, of course, much like many other holidays, Thanksgiving has taken on its own meaning for scores of Americans, including African descendants.
Many of us focus on giving thanks for the things in our lives we are grateful for, as opposed to celebrating the brutal founding of a nation that has mistreated us from its very founding.
I won’t be sending up any thanks for the dirty pirates who ransacked this land from the Native Americans; nor for them stealing my people from Africa and using us to build a nation for free and then disrespecting us during and after nation-building, treating us far less than human.
But I will give thanks for being alive and for being filled with hopes and dreams.
Those thanks will go to my God and not to America.
Darryl James is an award-winning author of the powerful new anthology “Notes From The Edge.” James’ stage play, “Love In A Day,” opened in Los Angeles this Spring and will be running throughout 2011. View previous installments of this column at www.bridgecolumn.proboards36.com. Reach James at email@example.com.