This week, millions of Americans coast to coast will pause for a moment and give thanks.
Despite the divisions that abound amidst protests, White supremacists chanting “Hail to Trump”; the Ku Klux Klan celebrating our President-elect; the Trump administration issuing a weak rebuke and civil rights leaders crying foul, we will all sit down at dining tables at around the same time and give thanks for the same things.
We will thank God for family and loved ones. We will give thanks for a roof over our heads, for jobs, for health, for our country, and for his mercy and grace that we have lived to see yet another year.
Even with the background noise of racial divisions, rancor and bitterness, these are the prayers of thanksgiving that we will all pray. But, there is one prayer of thanks that will likely be omitted from most tables around the country. It is a prayer of Thanksgiving and truth that could perhaps heal us all.
Yes, whether we are Black or White activists, racists, Democrats, Republicans or apolitical, perhaps if we all considered the following, we could indeed experience some element of healing: Though there was an informal gathering of pilgrims in 1821, history tells us that the first official feast of Thanksgiving was declared by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 amidst the Civil War. This being the case, the foundation of this nation had already been built on the backs of more than 12 million African slaves – including the White House and the United States Capitol.
So, as we give thanks, let us consider the unimaginable suffering of the 12 million. Then – if our hearts will allow – let us envision their blood, their sweat and their tears produced by their suffering as they worked, often under tortuous conditions.
And then, let us observe. Let us observe the fact that their red blood and their clear sweat and colorless tears are the same hue as each of ours.
Yes. When the newborn baby of a White supremacist cries, those tears are the same color as that elderly slave that was forced to keep working in the scorching sun. When any one of us bleeds for any reason, the color of the blood is indistinguishable whether we are Black or White.
In this regard, it is necessary to correct something that was recently spoken into the atmosphere of this nation. Richard Spencer, the leader of the so-called “alt-Right” White supremacist hate group made this hollow statement, which was aired on national television.
Speaking to a White audience, he said of America: “It is our creation. It is our inheritance. And it belongs to us.”
Sorry, Mr. Spencer. We must be clear about our American history. All of which you claim to be yours has been redeemed for all of America by the blood, the sweat and the tears of enslaved Africans. Even you and your cohorts must admit that had it not been for the labor of those on whose backs this nation was built, America would not have been possible.
Yet – without pause or forethought – such an assertion was made. It was clearly not stated as an oversight, but as a designed exclusion in order to circumvent the truth. But, as we bow our heads to give thanks this week and beyond, let us remember a scripture that we know all too well: “The truth will set you free.” Like it or not, Mr. Spencer, the people of this country are as fused as the stars and stripes of our flag.
We are inseparable and our destinies are intertwined. So, this Thanksgiving, we pray for the healing of this nation as we give thanks for the blood, for the sweat and for the tears of the Black slaves and their descendents who not only built it but who, on many occasions, joined our armed forces to defend it.
We also give thanks for the 20th and 21st Century African-Americans who – alongside others of every race – have fought on their knees, in the streets, in the board rooms and in the court rooms to maintain it. And as we make this observance and pray this prayer, we also resolve in our hearts that we shall not be moved.