It had been years since I spent Thanksgiving with my family. I felt as if my choice of accepting Islam was one that wasn’t accepted by those I love. However, I realized that the more I love Islam and accept all of me that everyone else will accept who I am, even if they don’t like who I’ve become (think about that). So 2016, was the start of me spending time with my family again during the hellidays (no spell check needed).
Last year, on the day of what America acknowledges as Thanksgiving, I woke up asking what I could do for Native Americans, our indigenous family (that was literally my first thought). I didn’t want to be the annoying woke person, but I did want to share a message. That’s when I decided that I was going to the store to find feathers. I knew I could piece some clothing together that had been sitting in my closet and that honestly nothing else really matters, except my hair and face because that would be the dominant place that everyone would have to SEE. This day I decided to be a walking influence.
When, I was getting dressed I was so excited, so happy that I would be sending a message that we should not forget about the history of Native Americans. However, when I was trying to put the feather in my head I was having a slight problem. It either would not stay or it just looked weird. I FaceTime’d my Native American friend, Toots, who I went to high school with and was talking her through what I was doing and shared the small problem I was having with placing the feather (she was so appreciative of what I was doing).
It took me back to when I would mistakenly refer to her as Mexican. She would always correct me with a tone that let me know that she was irritated at the fact that I couldn’t get it right, but she wasn’t angry. One thing I reflected on was that she never taught me the difference. I didn’t understand what it meant to be a Native American and honestly out of my ignorance, I thought a Native American was the same as being a Hispanic. It wasn’t until I joined the Nation of Islam and started studying Student Enrollment and reading Closing The Gap that it all clicked for me. I reflected back on Toot’s correction and I thought to myself wow! her and her beautiful family are Native Americans. It made them special people in my eyes. Not to say that they weren’t before that moment, but my understanding of them increased. Her connection and love for dreamcatchers and indescribable way of thinking all made sense. She had history in her blood that she couldn’t shake, but she never pushed her truth on anyone. That’s what I admire about her most. I also understand that it wasn’t her place to teach me about her history because at the time in my journey, it probably wouldn’t have had meaning in my life. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t inform one another. However, we know when it’s time and when it’s simply time to keep our mouths zipped.
After getting my “look together”, I stepped outside of the room
proud and I had very meaningful conversations with my family. I was so proud of myself and thankful for The Teachings of The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad.This year, I was thinking I can’t let this stop, I will dress similar. Only this time I felt as if i didn’t have anything to wear in my tight filled closet (oh please!). I was thinking I could go to the store and buy a brown sweatshirt. It’s just one shirt, it won’t contribute to the sales as much. Really Destiny? Here I am trying to justify how I was going to wrongfully spend my funds. At the end of it all, again, I pieced some things together from that closet full of things I haven’t worn and don’t plan to ever wear again. Whenever we want to do something different with our appearance, I challenge us to use what we already have. We don’t need to buy anything new. So again, I dressed in the way that I felt comfortable and that would do some justice for our Native Americans and for all of us as Original People of this Earth. This is our land.
Last, I didn’t exclude myself from my family only because they didn’t accept my choice of being with the Nation of Islam. I removed myself from their celebrations because it felt as if I would partially be celebrating with them. However, the reality is that would mean that I shouldn’t be around them everyday because we think and believe different, right? If I’m grounded in who I am and know what I believe in, then why does it matter if I’m spending time with my family on this day? Plus, do you know how hard it is to get Black people in the same room? When we’re doing it in the name of Jesus (as most say), then when we’re all in the room together, then we can bring the real Jesus into the conversation. Throughout the bathroom, I had the door hangers that we passed out in 2015 (because truth is infinite). You’re getting a taste of truth whenever I’m in your presence.
My family knows I don’t celebrate Thanksgiving and they actually stopped saying “Happy Thanksgiving” to me. In fact, one family member said “Happy Thanks…” in the middle of hugging me and stopped in mid-sentence. They understand and respect who I am because I respectfully make it known. Everyone knows that I am different and because of it, we are able to dialogue about things that wouldn’t be possible in my mind had it not been for The Teachings. During these past years, we’ve discussed redistributing the pain, eating habits, crystals, chakras, how we’re living through scriptures now according to The Bible, smallpox, genocide of a day that we say is one for celebrating what we’re grateful for, and so much more. My five-year-old cousin asked me why I had feathers in my head. I told her because on this day we acknowledge Native Americans and Original People. She responded with, I want a feather. My four-year-old Brother, TJ said, I want one too. So I gave pretty Madison a feather for her ponytail and I pinned a feather on my Brothers shirt, unfortunately, the feather kept falling off of my TJ (I should’ve taken a picture with the three of them). Guess what? I just planted something in their young minds.
If I wasn’t in the presence of my family, who would be there to drop seeds? Who would be there to inform or remind them what really happened on this day? What good am I serving when I go out into the community to save our people in the streets, but turn my back on those who I share blood with and who are in the same home as me? We have a duty to Allah, self, family, and then the community.
What is the population of the Original Nation in the wilderness of North America, and all over the planet Earth?
The population of the Original nation in the wilderness of North America is 17,000,000. With the 2,000,000 Indians makes it – 19,000,000. All over the planet Earth is 4,400,000,000.
Do we really believe this? If we do, then we would understand that removing ourselves from our family, who are a part of the Original Nation is a missed opportunity, when it is our duty to raise the thinking of our people.
After describing to some people how I dressed, they were offended to hear that I resembled a Native American. They said that it sounded like culture appropriation, but it’s not at all. I’m not making mockery. Once I show pictures, they understand, which also helps me understand that some don’t get it, until they have a visual. So imagine what my family is thinking as they’re constantly looking at me, which now makes this the second year in a row where I am a reminder of what we’re facing here in America.
These past two years with my family have been great. I wouldn’t trade this time with them. I called in to my weekly Vanguard conference call, so I’m still keeping The Mission at the top of my mind. Everyday is Thanksgiving and I am very thankful to have my family and have The Teachings. I am balancing my Islam well and making sure that my balance is not contradicting in anyway.
When we begin to understand that Islam is a way of life, I think we will begin to see that everywhere we go, Islam enters the room and that as Muslims, we give a piece of Islam (bread) to those we touch (feed). I know that I did my part on Thanksgiving in 2016 and 2017.
There may be Believers who disagree with my choice, but we all have our individual purpose for serving in The Mission. The goal is for each of us to receive our assignments and get to work for as long as we are able.
We have the power of turning every day that is filled with hell into a holiday.
May we all be living influences.