The True Meaning of Thanksgiving


This past weekend, while hosting the UW Collegiate Poetry Slam back in Madison, I got the chance to clear up some confusion when it comes to my work. “I just want to say for the record…I don’t think all white people are evil.”

“But white supremacy is the devil.”

People didn’t know whether to applaud, laugh, or punch someone in the mouth. Mostly they just held their breath. I continued on, and did my poem for Peter Norman, the Australian track athlete who supported Tommie Smith and John Carlos in the famous Black Power protest at the 1968 Olympics. (Listen to a clip of my poem at

All this got me thinking about the upcoming holiday, that great American feast of turkey and revisionist history: Thanksgiving. Now, maybe the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag natives really did all get along for this one day of Hallmark-approved festivities. Maybe. But even if it went down like that…before, and especially afterwards, the Pilgrims and their colonizing European brethren sure didn’t treat Squanto and the indigenous peoples of this continent with anything resembling gratitude. More like theft and genocide.

America is a country built on myth. Idealistic legends and lies. The type that play out today in popular culture and public policy, so that the descendents of colonizers and immigrants can now build walls (both physical and political) to keep out “illegal” (meaning brown) immigrants and protect “native” (meaning white) Americans.

Fortunately for us, there are voices who speak truth. Justice. And the TRUE American way. Those are the voices of the Addams Family.

I offer this video with gratitude for the people in my life, the fall harvest of pumpkins and possibility, the joy of seeing my former Madison students become even more brilliant than I remember, and the knowledge that one day all people will know justice and live in conditions that we can all truly be thankful for.

Happy turkey / tofurkey day. Enjoy! (with Swedish subtitles to boot!)