On Thursday, Black families will gather together to feast on turkey, the pig, macaroni & cheese, greens, several types of potatoes, and if they’re lucky, brown liquor in honor of the Pilgrims pretending to give a damn about America’s aboriginals before pillaging their land. And more than likely, most of these Black people would rather not sit by you if you’re going to tell the story of Thanksgiving in that way—again.
However you reconcile the origins of Thanksgiving, the holiday is now centered on celebrating your blessings and I’d like to run down a list of 10 things we Negroes should be thankful for this year:
1. President Obama’s reelection: You’ve heard Mitt Romney speak, haven’t you? A person as contemptuous as the now defeated Republican presidential contender deserved the decisive loss he suffered on November 7. Even if he doesn’t realize that’s his own fault, opting instead to stereotype minorities versus – gasp – acknowledging his own poorly ran campaign, at least none of us will have to deal with that condescending jerk anymore. If we can get Congress to cooperate with President Obama in 2013, we’ll have a whole lot more to be thankful for this time next year.
2. Allen West losing reelection: As a congressman in Florida, Republican Allen West has claimed that President Obama “emboldens our enemies,” promotes “Soviet Union, Marxist-Socialist” themes, wants America to “be his slave,” among other truly idiotic statements. If you’re one of those reasonable Black Republicans I keep hearing actually exist, take comfort in this crazy not returning to Congress for the foreseeable future.
3. Frank Ocean’s revelation: Frank Ocean didn’t have to tell anyone that the first person he ever loved was a man, but thankfully he did anyway. Regardless of what anyone thinks drove him to make that declaration shortly before the release of his debut album, considering hip-hop has been a traditionally homophobic world and even soul singers like Luther Vandross and Freddie Jackson evaded longstanding speculation about their sexuality, Ocean’s openness about who he loved has helped to move the culture forward.
4. Melissa Harris-Perry: The Tulane professor’s weekend program on MSNBC has lent voice to issues often ignored in the mainstream press – particularly the prison industrial complex, a deeper exploration of voter suppression efforts, and the group both presidential candidates shied away from addressing directly: the poor. Plus, not only is MHP’s show one of the smartest on television, she plays Beyoncé and references rappers like Young Jeezy. We adore thee.
5. Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta: Some will boo and hiss at this choice, but that’s what their remote control is for. Meanwhile, I loved every single second of VH1 and the trap’s answer to soap operas and telenovelas and I am not the only one. Please, please hurry back with the second season. Monday’s aren’t the same without my stories.
6. The return of R&B: For a good while now, EDM (electronic dance music) had placed a chokehold on R&B—with many of the genre’s stars abandoning more soulful sounds in favor of music meant to serve as a backdrop for bar hopping in Belgium. However, this year has featured a number of solidly R&B works from artists like Miguel, Brandy, Keyshia Cole, Frank Ocean, SWV, and more. Thank God.
7. The Olympics: Four words: Gabrielle Douglas, gold medalist. A few more: Stay the hell off of her scalp and out of her family’s business in 2016.
8. Lance Armstrong: Sorry, but it’s a little refreshing to see a celebrity with a drug charge who isn’t one of our cousins.
9. More women in hip-hop: Some may not enjoy Nicki Minaj’s rhymes, alter egos, or Judy Jetson-at-the-swap meet fashions, but her success has helped pave the way for newcomers like Azealia Banks and Angel Haze. Rap has long needed this big boost of estrogen, so yes, thank you Nicki, Roman, Martha, and whoever else takes space in your head.
10. Rihanna: Britney Spears may have found a bit of sanity, but you’re only still politely applauding her career choices in recent years. Christina Aguilera has gone from would-be Mariah Carey sequel to Ursula the Sea Witch’s latest victim. Then there are the other newer girls, only you don’t care that much about them, now do you? Enter Rihanna, the best pop act we have—at least until Beyoncé comes back. People may not approve of Rihanna’s choices, but her making them in the public eye has driven thoughtful conversations. She’s the most interesting pop star we have…and she didn’t even need to rock a rump roast on her chest achieve such a feat. Plus, her new album will have most of your folks twirking well into Spring. If for no other reason, can’t we all be thankful for that?