Holiday's Black People Don't Celebrate.

4 Holidays Black People Don't 'Really' Celebrate

At least not for the same reasons white people do.

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Let's be honest, most holidays, specifically the federal ones, historically exclude black people, not that many of them considered Black people to be people at the time they were conceived in the first place.

1. Independence Day.

Chris Rock Tweet

On July 14th, 1776 The Continental Congress formally adopted the Declaration of Independence. Yippie! Except, slaves were still slaves. Everything the colonists wanted for themselves, they denied to the African's they had stolen and were torturing. Not only were we not considered to be people, but no constitutional rights included us, and until we have a new constitution, I will continue to argue that they still don't. While white colonists were happy to be free from Great Britain, slaves weren't free from their horrors until June 19th, 1865, Juneteenth.

Black people today don't really celebrate the 4th of July as becoming independent from Great Britain. In fact, we aren't really celebrating anything. We are just glad to have a day off and finally enjoy those fireworks...

2. Columbus Day.

Christopher Columbus

Most Black people in America see Columbus Day as nothing more than a "banks are closed" day. There's really nothing to celebrate. Columbus didn't discover America, as you can't really discover somewhere people already know about and live, nor was he the first outsider to travel there, as Africans routinely sailed to the Americas to trade gold and other things. The colonizer also thought he was in India, but I guess we can still give him an E for effort.

Columbus' "discovery" also made way for the mass genocide of indigenous tribes, and black people take absolutely zero part in that.

In fact, we'd be down to re-name Columbus Day as "Indigenous Peoples Day," as well as take the day off to BBQ and drink beer.

3. Veterans Day.

Black Military Veterans

The treatment of Black people in America has always been less than stellar, and that also goes for the treatment of Black military veterans as well.

We can go back to the Red Summer, or WWII and come up with hundreds of instances where Americans were all gung-ho for all but black troops, but we can also go back to just a few days ago...

Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr., an Army veteran was shot and killed in an Alabama mall after police assumed he was a shooter. Not a single "respect our troops"-er came to his defense. In fact, the narrative decided that because he was a black man, he had no business carrying a concealed weapon in an open carry state next to dozens of white men who also had concealed weapons.

Or what about Kenneth Chamberlain Sr., a former marine, who was called a "nigger" by police before they broke down his door, then tased and shot him to death after responding to his faulty "medical alert" bracelet.

My point, too many Americans only have respect for the veterans and active troops when they are white. Plain and simple, why should black America pay tribute to a cohort many are excluded from?

And aside from a very large and "white" military, such as ones like to conquer and colonialize, many Black American's also see the military as an extension of the police.

4. Thanksgiving.

The First Thanksgiving

For many Americans, Thanksgiving is a beloved holiday for spending time with loved ones while eating dried out turkey, arguing politics and thinking of something unique to be thankful for to say during the prayer.

But for some of us, Thanksgiving is a controversial holiday with racist and dark origins. Much like Columbus Day, Thanksgiving is seen as the celebration of the conquering of Indigenous people by colonists.

A lot of Thanksgiving narratives, particularly the ones taught to us in elementary school, paint the biased and watered down picture of the Wampanoag Indians and the Pilgrims "looking pasts their differences" in order to share and enjoy a meal with one another. As children, we are taught that the pilgrims were "thankful" for the Natives' hospitality and so they invited them to enjoy a three-day feast. Of course what this narrative leaves out are the diseases the pilgrims brought to North America. And if that didn't kill enough of the Natives, the rape, mass murder, and Trail of Tears that followed would.

Due to the actions of the colonists, centuries later Indigenous tribes make up about 2% of the U.S population, face racial discrimination, suffer largely from alcoholism and joblessness and still fight the federal and local governments for the land and access to clean water.

Something else left out from this narrative...black people.

Though it is common knowledge that Africans frequently sailed to and from the Americas before Christopher Columbus "discovered it," they have never been any noted in the story of the pilgrims. In fact, Africans aren't noted in "American History" at all before 1619 and the arrival of the first slave ship.

That being said, Thanksgiving is a little different for Black people living in America. While this history of the Indigenous people and the colonists in the Americas isn't really "our" history and "our" ancestors weren't the ones causing mass genocide, we find some solidarity in the similarities between the colonization of the Americas and the colonization of African nations and the Caribbean.

We aren't thankful for the colonization of a place that would later enslave our great-great grandparents, but we do like to eat and have a day off work.

Black people and white people don't have the same history, and it's not divisive or racist to say that, it's the truth. Black people don't typically have a history of trying to mass murder other races in order to steal their land, so not only is it a bit odd to watch other celebrates those "accomplishments," but it is also uneasy for some of us to partake in the festivities in which many of us were victims.

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A Feminist Critique Of The #MeToo Movement's Blindspot

I'm a feminist, but here is my problem with #MeToo.

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The recent discussion of sexual violence in American society has sparked a fiery debate over how to create change for women everywhere. A topic which was once a whisper in the back of the room has become a national discussion of women's rights. But what about the rampant sexual violence towards Native American women? There is no #MeToo conversation inclusive of the atrocities which Native American women are facing.

Society has been so focused on a relatable narrative when creating #MeToo, that America has completely sidelined and consequently exacerbated the issues of the Native American community. Just because the poverty which Natives face is not relatable in the way the middle and upper-middle class stories of #MeToo are, does not mean that the stories of the more powerful are the only ones worth listening to.

According to Amnesty International, Native American women are 2.5 times more likely to experience sexual violence, yet there seems to be no hashtag or mass movement inclusive of them. These high rates of sexual violence, mixed with low rates of prosecution, have created a vicious and shocking cycle of violence on reservations. The severe sexual violence being experienced by Native American women is a widespread and pressing issue that is lacking proper attention and legislative action and it's truly appalling.

In a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control, 94% of the nearly 300 Native American women surveyed reported being raped in their lives. This figure is absolutely terrifying. To put this into a more local context, the Navajo Nation reservation in Arizona has had "more rapes [between 2008-2014] reported than in San Diego, Detroit or Denver," according to FBI's reports. This issue has plagued Natives for generations but remains overlooked and undiscussed by the majority of Americans. The #MeToo discussion revolves the idea of a relatable platform, but just because poverty isn't relatable does not entail that those in poverty should not receive justice. It's baffling how an issue can be this salient to one group of people yet go completely unnoticed by another.

To break the issue down, tribal courts have several large obstacles preventing them from acting as an effective means of justice. The main difficulty is the inability to prosecute non-Natives. Even though in "86% of the reported cases of rape against American Indian women, survivors report non-Native perpetrators,” justice cannot be served because tribes don't have the jurisdiction to prosecute. One can only imagine the frustration of a minority group which cannot receive justice in the face of a more socioeconomically powerful perpetrator.

Most recently, the Violence Against Women's Act of 1994 created an amendment in 2013 to give tribal courts the right to prosecute non-Natives who committ domestic and dating violence. This amendment fails to take into consideration however, that most rape cases against Native women are not domestic or dating violence. It seems inconceivable how such injustice is occurring but the media and movements like #MeToo simply aren't aware of it. In order to affect change for women everywhere, everyone's issues must be accounted for, even if issue of those in poverty aren't "relatable."

In the search for justice, tribes often send cases they do have jurisdiction over to U.S. Justice Department. In his New York Times Article, Timothy Williams cites that the Justice Department however did not pursue 65% of rape charges on reservations and 61% of cases involving the sexual abuse of Native children in 2012. So, while Native American women are two and a half times more likely to be raped, only one-third of them have a chance at receiving the justice they deserve. It almost feels as though it comes from a place of elitism that there are very few cases in which Natives can receive justice because they don't have jurisdiction over a seemingly untouchable group of richer people.

Sexual violence and the lack of prosecution to address it in the Native American community is a crisis which will never improve if continued to be left alone. Nothing will change until tribal courts have the power to fully enact law and order in their communities. It's been shown that the U.S. Justice Department ignores the issue and the U.S. public is unaware that this is even happening. With the current efforts which are being made to empower and protect women, American society has gotten lost in framing the issue to be relatable to the point where they have forgotten an entire group of people.

Until the public has been made aware of the severity of this issue, no legislation will be passed to help these women and the elitist injustice will continue. #MeToo is meant to give a voice to victims of sexual violence, but this mission will never be successful until the plight of Native American women has been heard.

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We Need to Forget About Advertising And Bring Back Small-Town-Style Parades

What makes small-town parades special

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Today it seems most parades are extended commercials; each business uses their own float as an advertisement but it seems the foundation of a modern parade should be more than just a consumer's buffet. The Chatham Fourth of July Parade in Cape Cod, MA is considered one of the last small-town American parades.

What makes the small-town American parade special is its emphasis on community. I've had the luxury of walking in the Chatham Fourth of July Parade for three years now and every year there is a theme that somehow relates to their town, it is town pride.

What's special about this small-town parade is the passion its participants have. It's not a hundred professionals, strangers to each other working to put up the big inflatable snoopy or the muppets float like the Thanksgiving day parade. The focus of the parade is not one big celebrity people could only dream of having a conversation with. The small-town parade is average people with average jobs coming together to create something not even close to average.

All of the locals in town work on their own float for what they are representing, like a small business or theatre troupe or ice cream shop. It's a small-town, most of the people in the parade know each other and lend each other materials or ideas. Technically the Chatham parade is a competition, each float competing for a plaque and some publicity but that's not why all of these people come out to participate.

It's not to win, or to show-off their businesses or events show how fancy their float is. It's to have fun and to make the spectators have fun. It is a time to forget the troubles back home and enjoy the people you are watching the parade with. It is an opportunity to live in the moment.

As I walked the parade route, I saw all of the people watching smiling or talking or singing along to each float's music. The kids were all sandwiched in the front row with little bags or frisbees eagerly awaiting the goodies traditionally handed out. It's like Christmas in July for the kids. The parade route is hot, with close to no shade, even just sitting watching is enough to dehydrate for the day and yet nobody seems to care.

Everyone is still smiling. The point of a parade is not to advertise or show-off, the point of a parade is, as the Chatham, Cape Cod parade proves, to bring a community together under a common theme. It doesn't matter if the theme is pride or holidays or any other hundred themes, all that matters is the people of a community are together, supporting each other and having fun.

Cover Image Credit:

Anna Favetta

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