Universities of one mind on not celebrating ‘racist’ Thanksgiving

by WorldTribune Staff, November 22, 2018

The University of Oregon, which as a public institution is partially funded by taxpayers, held an event recently with the stated goal of “decolonizing” the Thanksgiving holiday, a report said.

The university’s “Thanks But No Thanks-giving”, which was called a “celebration” of “ongoing genocide,” was backed by some students, “but others weren’t fully on board with the message the event communicated,” Campus Reform reported on Nov. 21.

Campus Reform Oregon Campus Correspondent Josiah Tejada asked a number of students if Thanksgiving is “racist” or a “celebration” of genocide.

“There’s definitely a racist history to Thanksgiving and that should probably definitely be addressed more in education,” one student said.

Another student told Campus Reform, “the whole concept with, like, taking land and assigning a value to it through cost is, like, it was different through European cultures.”

Another student said Thanksgiving is “racist,” because “we’re celebrating taking away land from Natives.”

Another student noted that while there are “hints” of colonial imperialism in the history of Thanksgiving, “I wouldn’t necessarily call it a racist holiday.”

“I think the more important part is more the message of Thanksgiving, to be thankful for what you have, thankful for the people around you who are willing to help you,” one student pointed out.

Meanwhile, a library at a Massachusetts college referred to Thanksgiving as a “#NationalDayOfMourning”, Campus Reform reported.

The McQuade Library at Merrimack College in North Andover, promoted an article on Facebook entitled “Decolonizing Thanksgiving: A Toolkit for Combatting Racism in Schools.”

In the article posted on Facebook, St. Mary’s University professor Lindsey Passenger Wieck urges an approach that “decoloniz[es]” and “de-romanticize[s]” Thanksgiving.

“Stereotypical and racist portrayals of Native peoples fill U.S. elementary schools each November as students encounter historically-inaccurate portrayals of Native peoples in arts & crafts, books, and lessons about a shared Thanksgiving meal, and songs and plays with hand-crafted headdresses and vests,” Wieck said. “But these activities are problematic, because they depict Native peoples in an a historical way and perpetuate myths about colonial encounters.”

Wieck said her goal was to provide educators with access to a number of study guides and lesson plans that discuss Thanksgiving through “an anti-racist and racial justice lens.”

Merrimack Associate Vice President of Communications and Marketing Jim Chiavelli told Campus Reform that the Facebook post “in no way represents the ethos of faith, family and freedom for which the college stands, nor our genuine appreciation for this most American of holidays.”

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