I wouldn’t go so far as to say the white man is the devil. But I will say, as I have always said, “A devil is what a devil does.” And, historically speaking, the white man has done a whole lotta devilment, especially here in the land called America.
Since white folks, and sadly Black folks too, in this country will celebrate Thanksgiving next week, I’ll use this week’s Freedom’s Journal column to expose some irrefutable proof of that racist devilment.
Let’s begin at the beginning, which was white invasion resulting in Red genocide. Howard N. Simpson, M.D. in Invisible Armies: The Impact of Disease on American History writes, “The Europeans were able to conquer America not because of their military genius or their religious motivation or their ambition or [even] their greed. They conquered it by waging... biological warfare.” And J. Leitch Wright Jr. in The Only Land They Knew notes, “In 1623, the British indulged in the first use of chemical warfare in the colonies when negotiating a treaty with tribes, headed by Chief Chiskiac, near the Potomac River. The British offered a toast symbolizing ‘eternal friendship,’ whereupon the chief, his family, advisors, and two hundred followers dropped dead of poison.”
And in a 1763 letter to a colleague, Sir Jeffrey Amherst, a high-ranking British military officer, not only suggested using vicious wild dogs to hunt down Red men, women, and children- which was brutally done- but also suggested using diseased blankets on Red men, women, and children when he wrote, “Could it not be contrived to send Small Pox among those disaffected tribes of Indians? We must on this occasion use every stratagem in our power to reduce them.” And that was satanically done.
However, you might say those aren’t examples of Thanksgiving. You might also say Thanksgiving was invented by Europeans as an expression of unity and appreciation between the two races. But you’d be wrong, dead wrong- as dead as the murdered so-called Indians.
Thanksgiving, as an American holiday, is a celebration of racist genocide. But don’t take my word for it. Listen to what Wamsutta (also known as Frank B. James), the official representative of the Wampanoag Nation, wrote in 1970 in response to an invitation from the Massachusetts Department of Commerce for his “tribe” to participate in the 350th anniversary of the Pilgrims’ landing:
“This is a time of celebration for you- celebrating an anniversary of a beginning for the white man in America.... It is with a heavy heart that I look back upon what happened to my people. Even before the Pilgrims landed [here], it was a common practice for explorers to capture Indians, take them to Europe, and sell them as slaves.... The Pilgrims had hardly explored the shores of Cape Cod for four days before they had robbed the graves of my ancestors and stolen their corn and beans.... Massasoit, the great Sachem of the Wampanoag, knew these facts. Yet he and his people welcomed and befriended the settlers.... This action by Massaoit was perhaps our biggest mistake. We, the Wampanoag, welcomed you, the white man, with open arms, little knowing that it was the beginning of the end, that before 50 years were to pass, the Wampanoag would no longer be a free people....
History gives us facts and there were atrocities. There were broken promises and most of these centered around land ownership.... Never before had we had to deal with fences and stone walls. But the white man needed to prove his worth by the amount of land that he owned. Only ten years later, when the Puritans came, they treated the Wampanoag with even less kindness in converting the souls of the so-called ‘savages....’ [And the Indians who rejected the Puritans’ Christianity were] pressed between stone slabs and [also] hanged.... And... down through the years, there is record after record of Indian lands taken and... reservations set up....
Although time has drained our culture and our language is almost extinct, we the Wampanoags still walk the lands of Massachusetts. [And] our spirit refuses to die.... We still have the spirit. We still have the unique culture. We still have the will and, most important of all, the determination to remain as Indians.
We are determined, and our presence here this evening is living testimony that this is only the beginning of the American Indian... to regain the position in this country that is rightfully ours.”
But Brother Wamsutta’s September 10, 1970 speech was never heard publicly at the anniversary event because Massachusetts’ white government officials banned him from reading it aloud after they had requested and received a copy of it beforehand.
Here are three facts you must know about white folks’ Thanksgiving so you won’t make the mistake of celebrating and thereby whitewashing the horrific physical and biological slaughter of our brave Red sisters and brothers.
1. The Red nations (and there were five hundred of them on this land they called Turtle Island) were inhabited by people accurately and generally known as the Onkwehonwe whose ancestors had been in the so-called New World for approximately 14,000 years. White Thanksgiving was founded thousands of years later in 1621 in Plymouth, Massachusetts by Pilgrims a year after they arrived from England to promote European religious traditions.
2. As further explained by Professor James W. Loewen in Lies My Teacher Told Me, “The Pilgrims did not introduce the tradition.... Indians had observed autumnal harvest celebrations for centuries. Although George Washington... [in 1789 did issue a proclamation setting aside November 26] as a national day of thanksgiving, our modern celebration dates back only to 1863. During the Civil War, when the Union needed all the patriotism that such an observance might muster, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving a national holiday.” By the way, as Francis Russell Stoddard notes in The Truth About the Pilgrims, the term “Pilgrims” wasn’t even used until the 1870s.
3. Shortly after the Pilgrims (and later the Puritans) arrived in/invaded this land and throughout the history of the United States, most notably following Congressional passage of Senate Bill 102 signed by President Andrew Jackson in 1830 and known as the Indian Removal Act- resulting in the gruesome “Trail of Tears”- Red people by the millions decreased in number as the genocidal terrorism, biological warfare, torture, rape, murder, land theft, and colonization increased.
Despite the hellish tradition of white Thanksgiving, I’m certainly not suggesting that Black folks not chill out on November 22 by hanging out, socializing, eating, and drinking with your family. In fact, you should do all that because it’s important for families, especially Black families, to come together as often as possible. Furthermore, that chilling out could also include watching professional football (unless you’re still boycotting like me). But when you watch the Washington game on that day, don’t use the racist slur by calling that team the “Redskins” unless you call their Dallas opponents (and all other NFL teams) the “Crackers.”
Think about it.