African Americans and other communities of color across the United States of America will spend the traditional Thanksgiving holidays this year with multiple perspectives, ranging from gratefulness of having life itself to increasing feelings of speculation about our future destinies and progress in America. We have won some victories. We have suffered some defeats.
Yet, we are a people of African descent who are also profoundly aware that our long struggle for freedom, justice and equality continues today in America, in Africa and throughout the world. The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) representing the Black Press of America reaffirms our mission to “plead our own cause” in speaking and publishing truth to power.
At the same time, we acknowledge a sacred respect and resolute solidarity with our Native American sisters and brothers who inhabited what now is known as America long before Christopher Columbus discovered that he was lost. The subsequent genocide and oppression of native peoples throughout this hemisphere that Columbus and others initiated with impunity and a callous disregard for human life also contributed to the eventual launching of the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
Yes, there are significant matters, circumstances and advances that we all should note with a consciousness of thanksgiving and gratefulness. Over the past 12 months we have a new Biden-Harris administration that is the most racially diverse and inclusive federal administration in American history. The Biden infrastructure bill is now law and will help stimulate economic recovery for African American-owned businesses.
The House of Representatives has passed Biden’s “Build Back Better” legislation, and we must now put serious pressure on the U.S. Senate to also pass this unprecedented initiative that will further help to eliminate poverty, housing discrimination, health care disparities and environmental injustice.
Even though we have not been able to end the reality of systemic racism in the very fabric of society, we have in fact made progress. This is no time for us to get distracted, disillusioned and chronically disappointed about the present and the future.
Poverty and unemployment within our families and communities are on a steady decrease after years of increasing economic disparities even before the devastating impact of COVID-19 on Black America. We express our condolences to those families who have suffered deaths from a deadly pandemic that continues to disproportionately hit our communities.
We are thankful to those health care professionals, physicians, medical researchers and other first responders who have helped all Americans to survive and prevent the further spread of COVID-19. It is, therefore, appropriate that part of our Black Happy Thanksgiving wishes go out to the medical research genius of our sister, Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, the leading viral immunologist, who helped develop the vaccine process that led to the preventive COVID-19 vaccine that has enabled millions of Americans and others to avoid infection from COVID-19. Corbett stated, “Vaccines are the great equalizer when it comes to addressing health disparities, especially around infectious diseases.”
We are thankful for the effectiveness of the Black Voters Matter movement and all the national, regional and local civil rights and voting rights organizations that are challenging voter suppression statues, laws and regulations that are being put into place in Texas, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and other states. We are thankful for the leadership of Congressional Black Caucus Chair Congresswoman Joyce Beatty and each member of the CBC.
We are thankful to attorney Benjamin Crump and a growing host of other civil rights lawyers and leaders who refuse to be silent about the continuing racially motivated police brutality and misconduct across America that inflicts fatal consequences for Black Americans throughout the nation.
We are thankful that the Black Press is expanding to all multimedia platforms and channels. We have to remain proactive to ensure that the formulation and distribution of the narrative of Black America is authentic, accurate, truthful and trusted.
Thus, we wish all a Black Happy Thanksgiving.
Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. is president and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) and executive producer/host of “The Chavis Chronicles,” broadcast weekly on PBS TV stations across the nation, and can be reached at Dr.BChavis@nnpa.org