You can sugar coat it and call it a myth, or a story, or a fable— but its still a lie and Americans love lies– we are addicted to them, like we are addicted to “reality” TV, like the Columbus and Elvis stories we pass on, or when we impart language considering ‘nice’ Southern plantations and the recipes they ‘shared’ with us — like the comforting lie/myth/fable that there was an harmonious moment in history when the “Indian” welcoming committee hosted a potluck for the hungry “Pilgrims” who didn’t know how to grow food on the new soil they just… stole, raped and pillaged?!
If we were to acknowledge the truth around the story of Thanksgiving chaos would ensue. Millions of dollars would be lost on fake turkey decorations and real turkey body parts. All those autumn-themed decorations would go to waste— never mind the pilgrim costumes you dust off once a year. Most Americans would loose money they invested on celebrating the folklore, the Macy’s parade would be grounded, hundreds of lifeless balloon-blimps would lay limp in the streets of New York. No football, no 4-day weekend. Thousands of businesses would loose millions of dollars that Americans spend perpetuating— a lie. It’s a lie that is easier to swallow than the truth about how pilgrims/colonials/conquerers treated indigenous people.
Thanksgiving is hardly the only cultural lie we hold on to, but I am grateful to the storyline because it serves as an access point to understand why Albert Woodfox is still in solitary confinement. Much like Thanksgiving, the lies surrounding Albert’s conviction have been told so many times, on so many different occasions, by so many generations, that it has become too expensive, too routed in shame, too much of a disaster for the State of Louisiana to tell the truth. Albert is innocent in the eyes of the law on a legal technicality because the truth is that the State would never win their case in court if they played fair. There is no physical evidence linking him (or Herman, or Robert) to the murder of Brent Miller, all of the so-called eye witnesses have been proven to be State paid informants, even the widow of Officer Miller has had the courage to say she does not believe the Angola 3 could have done this. So, the State has had to cheat again and again, play dirty, create lies, participate in prosecutorial misconduct, stack Grand Jury’s, hide evidence, omit women and people of color from other juries in order to perpetuate the lie that is easier to swallow then truth about their 42 year messy cover up.
Lucky us— it’s 2014, we have in our power new technology to do our own research to unearth the truth, to share it, to uphold it, to ferociously seek it. To rid ourselves collectively of the desire to live as a culture shrouded in lies.
So as an offering for Thanksgiving this year start by sharing the truth about Americas relationship to indigenous people in what we now call the United States. Make your family meal more about honesty, integrity, and dignity than perpetuating the culture of myth and then embark on a commitment to unearth the truth about the misguided history of the State of Louisiana. Empower yourself to understand how this history has directly affected the lives of poor an oppressed communities of color, and how today — The State of Louisiana under the direction of its Attorney General Buddy Caldwell maintains an expensive lie that cages an innocent man.
Collectively we have the power to change this, to finally liberate Albert Woodfox— to right the wrongs of history, but it requires a concerted effort to trade-in our addiction to myth, for the unrelenting pursuit of truth.
All Power to the People,
“If a cause is noble enough you can carry the weight of the world on your shoulders”
David Wade Correctional Center, where Albert Woodfox is unjustly kept in solitary confinement. We can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel: