I’m an atheist, and I always have been. I’m a third-generation atheist, moreover; my parents are atheists, and so were/are most of grandparents. But unlike my parents or my grandparents, I was raised without any Jewish observance in my life…
Tomorrow, many people in the U.S. will gather to celebrate Thanksgiving, a sanitized version of a fictionalized account of an encounter between English settlers and the Wampanoag people already living on the land that was being “settled” that was the beginning of centuries of murder, abuse, and outright genocide. And while being thankful for what you have is good, celebrating it by dressing children up in construction-paper feathers and decorating with dried “maize” is a not-good, and in fact bad, way of doing it. Tomorrow in Plymouth, Massachusetts — home of that first cross-cultural dinner party — a National Day of Mourning, organized by the United American Indians of New England, will draw attention to historical and current attitudes, treatments, and issues facing Native Americans.
Not that it makes up for centuries of colonization and genocide, but more and U.S. cities are choosing each year to officially make the second Monday of October a celebration of the indigenous people of their region, and not of the deplorable individual credited with “discovering” them.
[Trigger warning for sexual violence and emotional abuse]
Valentine’s Day is coming up! That day of romance, of togetherness, of coupledom, of… domestic abuse… Valentine’s Day is the release date of 50 Shades of Grey, that sensationalistic movie based on the “How to Spot an Abuser” pamphlet in your college guidance counselor’s office. Women and men who have read the book and know perfectly well what the story is about will flock to theatres, either a) dreaming of the day that they’ll be stalked and violated by someone as dreamy as Christian, or b) hoping to score on Valentine’s night with the person they took to the movie. And while people are free to get their rocks off to whatever they want (within certain limits), it’s important to acknowledge that what may (for some reason) come across as sultry and sexy on the page would, in real life, be a Razorbacks halftime show’s worth of red flags.
Happy New Year to everybody. I have a hard time with New Year’s Eve and Day, myself. It’s one of a trio of holidays that tend to make me depressed (the other two, in case you’re wondering, are Thanksgiving and…
I live in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the country, but on one of the more “modest” streets — mostly doctors and lawyers and family business owners. (A few blocks away are billionaires, families with famous last names, media moguls, etc.) I have noticed that on Halloween, what seems like 75 percent of the trick-or-treaters are clearly not from this neighborhood. … Should Halloween be a neighborhood activity, or is it legitimately a free-for-all in which people hunt down the best candy grounds for their kids?
Hope you all celebrated and had a grand ol’ time. Sorry I’ve been MIA from the blog — December was a big month of travel for me, often without great internet. One of those trips was to Malawi, which is a fantastic country in East Africa, small and extremely poor but the locus of some really innovative development efforts. I met a lot of bright, interesting girls doing fantastic advocacy and activism work in their communities. Unfortunately, they’re looking at being defunded: Endemic corruption in Malawi is a national scandal, with millions in donor aid plundered by politicians. Now, many Western governments are suspending funds. I wrote about it for the Guardian, so click over and read the whole thing. I’m happy to start 2014 with a reminder that there are some pretty amazing young women advocating for their own futures all over the world.
Hot on the heels of Arizona news that one Christian woman was assaulted by another Christian woman in Phoenix because she said “Happy Holidays” rather than “Merry Christmas” (!) comes a New Jersey report that two men attempted to burn down a “Keep Saturn in Saturnalia” billboard put up by the Freedom From Religion Foundation (to counter a “Keep Christ in Christmas” banner hanging over Pitman’s main thoroughfare). It’s not the first attempt to deface/destroy the FFRF billboard since it was unveiled last week.
Christopher Columbus was a greedy, violent, colonizing monster and celebrating him with a national holiday in the same way we honor Martin Luther King, Jr., is ridiculously messed up. In anticipation of Monday’s U.S. Columbus Day observance, The Oatmeal lays out the true history of Columbus’s “explorations,” particularly his decimation of the Lucayan natives of the Bahamas, and suggests a better candidate for a national holiday.