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This Week in Racism

Thanksgiving Is the Least Racist Holiday America Have

Thanksgiving is a holiday about inclusion and harmony.

​I hope you're all full of heavy, fattening, greasy food. If you're not, what's your problem? Do you not even give a shit about holidays? Stop what you're doing and go get a cheeseburger, at least. Fuck, make it a double while you're at it.

Thanksgiving isn't just about food, of course. I mean, I wish it were. Why can't we just have a holiday that's celebrated by locking yourself in a room with a bowl of turkey gravy, a whole roasted pig, and 12 large pizzas? It'd be called "Cheat Day." Think about it, Obama. That's an executive order we could all get behind.


Thanksgiving is about remembering a meal shared by English settlers and Native Americans in the 1600s in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The settlers and the natives were able to come together and break bread, despite an understandable, mutual distrust. Of course, the spirit of oneness didn't last very long, as European colonization decimated the native populations of the American continents through war, disease, and governmental sanction. But that hasn't stopped us from continuing to plop our huge asses down on the couch every fourth Thursday in November here in the States. And why should it? I didn't help devastate an entire culture! I wasn't even born yet!

But I am here today, and racial disharmony and xenophobia seems to permeate our culture. The Ferguson grand jury decision and subsequent protests and riots are still fresh in our collective psyche. President Obama can't seem to figure out a way to achieve any sort of consensus on meaningful immigration reform, even though this nation wouldn't even exist without immigration.

After using an executive order to defer deportations of illegal immigrants that have been in this country at least five years, the fearmongers among us seem more than eager to paint Latino immigrants as boogeymen.

The Case of the Mysterious Mustache: the original — Staci D Kramer (@sdkstl)November 22, 2014

The above Indianapolis Star cartoon depicted a family of shaggy-haired ethnics invading a lily-white Thanksgiving dinner. The Star took tons of heat, then removed the mustache from the father character to make him seem less Mexican, and therefore, less racist. Mustaches are apparently a defining characteristic of Mexicans in the mind of this editorial staff.

The cartoonist, Gary Varvel, allegedly doesn't intend for his work to be "​taken literally," according to an apology by Star executive editor Jeff Taylor. Yeah, I didn't take it literally either, since I didn't think he was saying actual Mexicans would be breaking into actual Thanksgiving dinners to eat turkey and watch football. It's not the literal interpretation that's harmful. It's the very idea that immigration is somehow an affront to American values or our vaunted holiday season.

The whole point of Thanksgiving is to welcome the stranger. It's really the least racist holiday there is, since it's explicitly about clearing a space at your table (both the literal table and the metaphorical one) for the "other" that you might not always be so accepting of otherwise. Try to remember that while you sit in your fortress shoving gristle into your mouth this weekend.

Follow Dave Schilling on ​Twitter.