Politics

D.C. school board chancellor urges families to ‘decolonize’ Thanksgiving

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Lewis D. Ferebee, chancellor of the Washington, D.C., public colleges, despatched a letter to the DCPS group encouraging dad and mom and youngsters to “decolonize” Thanksgiving, a vacation which he mentioned brings up “horrors.”

After expressing his gratitude for the group and inspiring families to keep secure amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Ferebee included a message entitled “Recognizing the History of the Holiday.”

“Thanksgiving is a day that can be difficult for many to celebrate as we reflect on the history of the holiday and the horrors inflicted on our indigenous populations,” the chancellor wrote. “If you celebrate, our Equity team has shared resources for how you can consider decolonizing your Thanksgiving” (emphasis unique).

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“If you host a Thanksgiving meal, think about doing a land acknowledgement,” Ferebee wrote. In that message, he linked to the Native Governance Center, a non-profit devoted to aiding “Native nations.” The land acknowledgment net web page to which Ferebee linked encourages individuals to “Use appropriate language. Don’t sugarcoat the past. Use terms like genocide, ethnic cleansing, stolen land, and forced removal to reflect actions taken by colonizers” (emphasis unique).

Lewis Ferebee, chancellor of Washington, D.C., public colleges. Photo courtesy DCPS

Ferebee additionally shared “two articles to decolonize your vacation,” and e-book suggestions for kids and adults. 

One of the articles he shared, from a website known as Bioneers, claims that “what we learn in school about Thanksgiving internalizes oppression.”

“By reaching children at an age when their brains and ideas are still forming, we normalize the idea that America is a European-descendant, Christian country above all,” the article claims. “Children of different ethnic and religious backgrounds implicitly learn that their roots are not a part of the American story.”

The article means that Americans ought to inform “the real story of Thanksgiving,” serve locally-sourced meals, and “address oppression by widening your circle.”

A message from Washington, D.C, Public Schools Chancellor Lewis Ferebee.

A message from Washington, D.C, Public Schools Chancellor Lewis Ferebee.

The different article, from a website known as Cultural Survival, warns that “stories told about the first Thanksgiving often perpetuate harmful stereotypes and racism.”

The article urges Americans to “learn the real history,” noting that “Thanksgiving, like Columbus Day, serves as a reminder of the genocide and violence Native communities experienced and continue to experience.”

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The article additionally encourages Americans to eat Native American meals, to “listen to indigenous voices,” to help a selected piece of laws reversing a Trump-era coverage, to help Native American artists, to purchase Native merchandise, to share constructive depictions of Native Americans, and to “End Racist Native Mascots in Sports.”

Flags are seen on the National Mall with the U.S. Capitol behind them. (AP)

Flags are seen on the National Mall with the U.S. Capitol behind them. (AP)

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