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Let's Talk Turkey: Glen Ford Carves Up the American Empire (Updated!)

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book title The Black Agenda
book title The Black Agenda
(Image by OR Books)
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Let's Talk Turkey: Glen Ford Carves Up the American Empire

by John Kendall Hawkins

If you know your history

Then you would know where you're coming from

Then you wouldn't have to ask me

Who the heck do I think I am

- Bob Marley, "Buffalo Soldier," Confrontation (1983)

Glen Ford had grown a little bit tired of the Mighty Whitey and his imperial ways, before he died on July 21 this year, and he wasn't all that enamored of weak-kneed Uncle Tomfoolery either. Give me da rock, get out da way, he seemed to say, da co*k's come home to roost, mothafuckka. Cockadoodledoo. Woke your sleepy ass up, brutha. We got some work to do.

Well, that's how I read the energy and intention of Ford's "No More American Thanksgivings," the opening evisceration of the mightiest, whitiest American holiday of them all. His screed is a triumphant tonic, a P'au Revere trumpet blast to open The Black Agenda (OR Books, 2021). Ford begins his carve-up of the butterball day traditionally associated with the beginning of the Christmas shopping period (Black Friday), with some nastiness. Smallpox blankets that would make Wuhan's batshit crazy virus blush. Stolen corn from Indian gravesites probably filled with victims of that smallpox, leaving a wide open area, reminiscent, of say, a trailer-park swathe. Indian heads on totemic poles. Indians sold into slavery and sent to Caribbean. Ford sums it up with words of Governor John Winthrop, "This day forth shall be a day of celebration and thanksgiving for subduing the Pequots." Yeah, symbolically, that stuffed bird on the table is a tribe wiped out.

In 2003, Ford writes, for The Black Commentator (a forerunner to Black Agenda Report),

Thanksgiving is reserved by history and the intent of 'the founders' as the supremely white American holiday, the most ghoulish event on the national calendar... It is the most loathsome, humanity-insulting day of the year--a pure glorification of racist barbarity... the almost four centuries-old abomination will be deprived of its reason for being: white supremacy.

Amen. The Might Whitey can get stuffed. The reader already wants second helpings.

That's just the opening salvo for Ford. He really lays in on the history of the event leading up to what we bizarrely associate with Christian good will and bonhomme, and heroic resilience feats to die for. Ford sticks the fork in, saying,

The Thanksgiving story is an absolution of the Pilgrims, whose brutal quest for absolute power in the New World is made to seem both religiously motivated and eminently human.

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John Kendall Hawkins is an American ex-pat freelance journalist and poet currently residing in Oceania.

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