Is what my 11 year old called this holiday.
I realized when my second grader was unsure in her class Zoom chat about what her favorite Thanksgiving foods were that I hadn’t done much over the years to establish or preserve the traditions of this holiday. It likely made her feel a bit left out, and that will be a conversation to have with her, maybe the school as well, but I’m fine with the whole arrangement. Thanksgiving is not my holiday. As a child of Indian immigrants, it’s really not my holiday. From the beginnings of this country mistaking the First Americans for Indians from India, to all the borrowed culture from a people that were systematically murdered while their land was stolen by the earliest invaders/our Forefathers, to turkey which is quite honestly a subpar chicken substitute. I don’t mind that she is not well versed in this holiday.
I’m still off of social media. And although I almost went on Instagram under the guise of finding out the type of lightbulb to buy for a vintage lamp I purchased there, I’m glad I haven’t. Because one of the five worst days to be on Instagram is Thanksgiving. It’s a beautiful thing to come together with family to eat and just be. The endless stream of stuffing and turkey and table settings on social media, may be satisfying for those who have these things. For those who don’t, I can only imagine the isolation.
It’s the day after Thanksgiving and a full week after I went off social media. I went on today however to confirm everything was the same as I’d left it. That I had not missed some very meaningful DM/comment/like/friend request. The hard discovery sometimes is confirming the thing you believed but secretly hoped might not be the case. Nothing had changed in a week. That was its own kind of depressing realization. I deleted the apps again. The only thing I missed that I wished I had seen earlier was an invite to an online community discussion around creativity among mostly people of color.
My own Thanksgiving with my Covid pod (aka my family) was intimate and there were hardly any photos taken. There was my ex and I spending more time in my home together with our kids than we had ever done. My mom’s lamb curry. My last minute attempt to make a homemade (not boxed) stuffing which was pretty good. A pumpkin pie and a peach pie. And some kids who were thrilled to have a day with both of their parents in the same place with them for an extended amount of time. I realized just how much they craved this. I was grateful to be able to give them this with their dad.
I’ve been reading Arundhati Roy’s Azadi, a collection of nonfiction essays she has written over the past few years that document the ways in which India has openly abandoned it’s potential as the world’s largest secular democracy to fascism, murder, occupation, and Hindu fanaticism. If you pay attention to Indian news, and we all should, then nothing in her essays is a shock. But as is the way in her book and in her words, she will put it all down on paper, leaving no incident over the past 40 odd years forgotten, connecting all those past bad acts to how we got here today. It becomes clear for anyone paying attention that the collective not paying of attention to the RSS/BJP party’s actions/words/silences has gotten us here. It’s a sad state of affairs, but always there is hope in the persistence of writers who refuse to lie down, even when the risk of their death looms large.
There are reporters/writers doing this kind of work in the world. I don’t think it’s the only kind of journalism that matters. But I think it’s a particular kind of risk, a particular kind of person, their numbers are not so large worldwide. We should pay attention to all those who would risk their lives to tell us truths as they see them. We should do our part to protect them by paying attention to their words. Paying attention never means blind acceptance. But also engagement, debate, criticism when necessary. But we should engage with work that the powers that be would do their best to murder out of our view. There’s much to learn there about about who we are and those who require our attention.
I listened to an old Democracy Now episode detailing 4 days of reporting within Morocco and the Occupied West Sahara in 2016. This is the text from the Youtube video of the broadcast:
In this exclusive broadcast, Democracy Now! breaks the media blockade and goes to occupied Western Sahara in the northwest of Africa to document the decades-long Sahrawi struggle for freedom and Morocco’s violent crackdown. Morocco has occupied the territory since 1975 in defiance of the United Nations and the international community. Thousands have been tortured, imprisoned, killed and disappeared while resisting the Moroccan occupation. A 1,700-mile wall divides Sahrawis who remain under occupation from those who fled into exile. The international media has largely ignored the occupation — in part because Morocco has routinely blocked journalists from entering Western Sahara. But in late 2016 Democracy Now! managed to get into the Western Saharan city of Laayoune, becoming the first international news team to report from the occupied territory in years.
There are people attempting to report, attempting to speak up, attempting to ascertain the truth. At great personal cost. It astounds me each time I hear something like a Sahrawi father tell Amy Goodman he has prepared his 7-year old for the possibility of his death for the mere fact of his talking to her. Every time I hear audio of a reporter like Goodman narrate the details of being surrounded by people within minutes of arriving at an empty cafe or of being constantly followed and interrogated by Moroccan authorities.
On social media I am barraged by the onslaught of a myriad stories of how my own government is trying to either kill us or do nothing while we die at the hands of capitalism, some faster than others, some more blatantly and deliberately than others. Off of social media I take in one complete story at a time, digest it, think about it, and learn from the strategies of living activists. Then when I’m not scrolling, I’m eating leftover stuffing, I’m biking to a park and meeting my friend and my child, I’m walking my dog, taking care of my house duties, talking to my love. This is enough some days. Maybe you can find a kind of refuge in your own home, your own city, off the timeline. Maybe you can just wake up, make coffee, lounge on a bed for too long with your child and dog, be outside, and do the work. Or figure out what the work is. That’s good work too.