Commentary: Is Thanksgiving a racist holiday?


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As the time to pass the cranberry sauce comes and goes, some wonder if Thanksgiving should be celebrated.

When most Granite Bay High students were in grade school, they learned that Thanksgiving was a celebration in honor of the Native Americans and pilgrims from England joining together in a peaceful feast.

However with recent increased social justice advocacy in 2020, people seem to question whether Thanksgiving is a socially acceptable holiday or not. Some think that there is a dark history behind Thanksgiving and the nice story of  Native Americans and pilgrims that students were taught. 

What is the true history of Thanksgiving? The reason why Americans celebrate Thanksgiving is to remember the coming together of the pilgrims and Native Americans.

They came together and had a feast, which is why Americans celebrate the holiday primarily during a shared meal. President Abraham Lincoln officially made Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863 to not only commemorate the pilgrims and Native Americans, but to also celebrate the things people are grateful for. 

Where do people find a racist side to Thanksgiving? Most people who find Thanksgiving to be a racist holiday associate the day with what happened to Native Americans after the pilgrims came to America.

In the 1800’s the white settlers of America forced Native Americans out of their homeland as they migrated West. This overtaking of the Native Americans by the white settlers was called the Trail of Tears. So when people think of Thanksgiving and the coming together of the Native Americans with the pilgrims, some people associate that with what happened later in American history.

In a poll of 32 students at Granite Bay High School asked if Thanksgiving was a racist holiday, every single student in the poll voted that it was not racist.

“The only thing Thanksgiving is racist toward is turkeys” Sophomore Tobey Jennings said jokingly in response to the poll. Josh Kerekes, another student at GBHS who participated in the poll, said,

It is not racist, it’s a day where all American communities can come together to celebrate peace, prosperity and the things they are grateful for,” said Josh Kerekes.

Sophomore Sarah Thompson had a more conflicted opinion on the holiday.

 “If you look back on the history of the Pilgrims and Indians it was obviously a peaceful event, however horrible things happened to the Native Americans following the English coming to America,” Thompson said. “ Nowadays people celebrate Thanksgiving to recognize their opportunities and things they are grateful for in their lives. I support the idea of people being grateful and kind”.

Whether people view Thanksgiving as a racist day or not, remember to be thankful for the things you have.

Though early American history has a racist past, that does not mean people can’t celebrate Thanksgiving in the modern day.