Thanksgiving is the only holiday I celebrate. I stopped celebrating Christmas traditionally when I was five. MOMMs sat me down and explained in a very adult manner that I wouldn’t be getting gifts for Christmas anymore. Her theory: Christmas is Jesus’ birthday, not ours. By that logic the gift-giving should occur on our own birthdays and birthdays should be a big deal. Without the burden of Christmas we were free to visit Sickle Cell patients stuck in the hospital on Christmas, bringing any donated gifts along with us. I’ve had some amazing birthdays that happen to be some of the best times of my life so far. I don’t recall ever having a problem with any of this as a kid. As an adult this is one of the best gifts MOMMs has ever given me, one I then applied to every other holiday.
The older I got it, it seems like the worse the Christmas season got. As a kid Christmas started overshadowing Thanksgiving in the marketing department. Then Black Friday became a thing, and stores were opening earlier and earlier pushing into Thanksgiving — the only holiday left that’s just about people, without the burden of gift-exchange. The only requirement for Thanksgiving is food and your folks. Also my Granni’s dressing. No matter what the other holidays were going through, my favorite remained stable and the separate pan of dressing that my Granni made just for me was always there after I went back for a
second third fourth plate of dressing and the rest of the family killed the main batch.
My year-end reflection happens during Thanksgiving. It started in college. The first time I couldn’t be with my family for Thanksgiving. Right after Hurricane Katrina I was a temporary student at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. I’d traveled from New Orleans to Galveston, TX, flew home to The Bay Area a few days after the storm, went shopping for a new wardrobe, flew to Arkansas with MOMMs and started college all over again. I used what little money I had to fly home and surprise MOMMs that year for her birthday, which meant three weeks later I spent mine in an empty student-apartment with the 18 things my parents sent me.
Thanksgiving was less than two weeks after that and always hyper-aware of what my parents’ spent on me there was no way I was asking them to fly me home for a “minor” holiday. MOMMs offered, still. She knew I wouldn’t ask and knows how I feel about Thanksgiving. I guess I did a pretty decent job of convincing them I wanted to spend Thanksgiving getting to know my relatives in Arkansas. I wanted to believe that lie, which is probably why I said it so convincingly–at the time I didn’t have the word introvert so I was still trying hard to be “normal.”
No fault of my relatives it was the worst Thanksgiving ever. Because I didn’t have the word introvert I didn’t yet have control of what I call my “Switch.” Really it’s just a set of tools that allow me to navigate social or uncomfortable situations with minimal anxiety and minimal energy drainage. Instead all I could think about was the past few months and how different my reality looked from my plan. I was not supposed to be having Thanksgiving in Arkansas with a bunch of strangers who looked just like me. Or I guess I was. Whatever.
Despite the fact that as a single adult Thanksgiving looks different for me every year, it still has a very specific set of traditions. I don’t work on Thanksgiving. In fact I don’t do anything I don’t want to do on Thanksgiving. So if that means sitting around eating five servings of Granni’s dressing and reflecting then that’s exactly what I do. This year in the wake of Ferguson my reflecting is reminiscent of the first Thanksgiving that unknowingly started this tradition. That Thanksgiving the events of Hurricane Katrina guided my reflection; this year, the events of Ferguson undoubtedly guide my thoughts on my favorite holiday.
Just like I’m thankful for the work that came from Katrina, I’m thankful for what has happened in the aftermath of Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson. Both Thanksgivings are marked by tragedy. Protests are happening even as I type this. But there’s a big difference between that Thanksgiving and this one. This Thanksgiving a whole new generation is entering it’s prime. And with all of the audacity that I can muster I’m telling you this is the most revolutionary generation yet. This Thanksgiving is also marked by possibility. The revolution is happening even as I type this.
As I started reflecting this morning I realized I’m thankful for the difference a decade has made. Because the main thing getting me through life right now, keeping me motivated and going is this fresh generation of revolutionaries I see putting in work every day! I’m beyond grateful that I get to witness these revolutionary acts up close and personal on a daily basis.
I’m talking about the frustrated, fed-up, out of fucks, bereft of chill, Pluto in Scorpio Millennials; the sentinels, diplomats, analysts, and explorers of my generation who’ve been playing with the crap ass hand we’ve been dealt by the generations before, who started with the smallest pot and played the game with an intelligence, craftiness and fire that has allowed us to not only survive but thrive in a system set up for us to fail. For so long I heard only about the complacency of our generation, how lazy and apathetic we are and how we’ve squandered the accomplishments of the generations before, particularly those in the Civil Rights Movement. I call bullshit.
It’s only recently that I realized this is not about bringing back what we once had, or fixing what our generation or perhaps the one right before “broke.” The system isn’t broken because it wasn’t built right from jump. It’s about finishing what they started and getting that which we never had. It’s certainly about staying awake and making sure we don’t accept pacification disguised as progress, get distracted by dissenting voices, or lose momentum when we make baby steps.
Because of TheVisibilityProject.com I get to see us in action every single day. Long before the Ferguson catalyst there existed a generation of folks who can take the best of what’s been passed on to us, throw out the bullshit, and get shit done. From the success of our creatives to the progress our activists have made on the front lines (literally & figuratively). Any hope that I have about a better future is in these folks.
Here’s a list of some favorite Millennial (actually & honorary*) Revolutionaries that our The ViP staff is thankful for:
Hannah Giorgis (@Ethipiennesays)
Philip Agnew (@PhilofDreams_)
Cherrell Brown (@AwkwardDuck)
Janelle Monae (@JanelleMonae)
Jesse Williams* (@iJesseWilliams)
Naomi Ko (@Konaomie)
Pendarvis Harshaw (@OGPenn)
Janet Mock (@JanetMock)
Zellie Imani (@zellieimani)
Mikki Kendall* (@karnythia)
Suey Park (@suey_park)
Mia McKenzie (@blackgirldanger)
J. Cole (@JColeNC)
Tina Vasquez (@thetinavasquez)
Big K.R.I.T. (@BIGKRIT)
Kid Fury (@KidFury)
Franchesca Ramsey (@chescaleigh)
Jerrika Hinton* (@hellojerrika)
Solange Knowles (@solangeknowles)
Issa Rae (@IssaRae)
Skipp Coon* (@skippcoon)
Tracy Clayton (@brokeymcpoverty)
Javon Bracy (@super_von)
Kim Moore (@soulrevision)
And of course our writers here at The ViP:
Carlyn Worthy (@andthenlynsaid)
Bri Painia (@kewl_Briize)
Kylee McIntyre (@EJKyleeMac)
This list is forever growing so definitely let me know some of your favorite Millennial revolutionaries.