With Thanksgiving approaching, we all look forward to eating turkey as we celebrate the pilgrims’ first feast with the indigenous people of the land. As I dreamed of stuffing and cranberry sauce, it occurred to me that the pilgrims were actually this continents first group of immigrants. It may be somewhat hypocritical to admire the pilgrims yet resent current day immigrants when you consider that most of us wouldn’t be here today if the native Americans had asked to see our ancestors’ documentation. I’m quite sure the irony doesn’t begin to enter their minds of us patriotic “Americans” as we sit down to enjoy our Thanksgiving turkey. The ability to trace one’s bloodline to a Mayflower passenger has always a major point of pride. Never mind that these people and their following generations eventually took their hosts lives and land, leaving the descendants of the few survivors nothing but a few casinos. We proudly celebrate our genocidal ancestors accomplishments. But hey, the stuffing and yams taste better when you don’t think about it too much. This hypocrisy was the inspiration for my painting (shown above) “Illegal Immigration”.
I’m not suggesting you put down that drumstick. There’s nothing we can do about the transgressions of the past, but maybe if didn’t sugarcoat our own heritage, we wouldn’t feel so self-righteous when considering immigration reform. Maybe it’s our own past that scares us. Maybe we’re afraid that the current immigrants will do to us what we did to the Indians. Could those undocumented workers watching our kids, and doing our lawns be planning to take back California and New Mexico?
So as you sit down to your turkey this year, take a moment to consider the current crop of immigrants, just looking for a better life like the pilgrims had. Be thankful that your ancestors were given that opportunity and be humbled by how they approached it.