Perspective: Yearning To Breathe Free

Dec 3, 2018


Every fourth Thursday of November, this nation celebrates Thanksgiving.  A holiday centered around a peaceful, but fictional, feast of the native Wampanoag tribe and English Pilgrims fleeing religious persecution. This make-believe communal meal happened only once, before the Pilgrims began to annihilate the natives. 


Often left out the Thanksgiving narrative is the genocide of some 700 members of the Pegout tribe, by English and Dutch mercenaries. Also omitted are the stories of thousands of indigenous Americans sold into slavery, by way of England. The people of the Patuxet, Wampanoag, and Pequot tribes welcomed the immigrant Europeans fleeing tyranny with open arms -- not knowing these same people would contribute to their genocide.  

While scrolling social media, three days after this nation celebrated this so-called Thanksgiving holiday, I was heartbroken to see a video of South Americans being tear gassed at the US/Mexico. In the video I watched you can hear someone say, “Please cover the children.” On soil where Indigenous Americans once welcomed fleeing Europeans, we now shoot tear gas at South Americans trying to do the same thing the Pilgrims did. When did we became so inhumane? When did we became so anti-human?


I believe it began with a narrative of dehumanization. A narrative that criminalized an entire ethnic group and labeled them “illegal aliens,” all out of fear. Fear causes people to become desensitized to humanity. No human being is “illegal.”  As a nation, it is time we remind ourselves of our own words: 


“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…” 


I’m Joe Mitchell, and that’s my perspective.