Cup of Squid
~musings and folly~

National Day of Mourning

On Thursday, instead of celebrating with family and friends, many people recognized a Day of Mourning.

This is not new.

The generations of genocide is not new to those who’ve suffered, are currently suffering, or are tuned into the suffering others are experiencing (often by the hands of their own ancestors).

I am in the lattermost category, as a great grandchild of immigrants from countries like Italy, Lithuania, and Greece. One of my grandfathers did not hail from any of these places, and instead used to take pride in having family that was on the first ship to this so-called country. Three-quarters of my family may not have gotten here until a century ago, but we all benefited from jettisoning our cultures, our languages, and our homelands to join the legions of whiteness on foreign soil. The grief of loss and uprooting is something I feel in my bones, but it was not our story on Thursday.

Last Thursday - and, honestly, every day - was a day to name and condemn the cruel acts by our captialist government, to offer solidarity.

Solidarity with the centuries of pain faced by the Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island, the Palestinians who are being brutally slaughtered by the hands of the Israeli army (while being supported by Zionist world powers), the Jewish voices who speak out against Israel’s atrocities and are facing backlash for this, the Black lives lost at the hands of cops around this country, and so many other groups that have had to bear witness to fear and strife due to the endless parade of violence from those who seek (and have a stranglehold) on power.

Greed is for the meek who cannot see more than what they can stuff into their pockets, fit into their hands, shove into their mouths. Americans call this holiday “Thanksgiving”, but there’s no true thanks or giving nestled in the bland food that’s often served. (And that does not even take into consideration the day that follows - a glut of purchasing at strip malls and department stores.)

Colonizers as a whole don’t know how to give thanks to the land for what it’s given them. They are only beginning, in some cases, to acknowledge the people they’ve displaced in the process of their settlement. And what does that naming do apart from a studied moment of silence, a mere thirty seconds added onto a speech? Where is the action behind those words?

We are numbed by the millions who’ve died in the last three years from the pandemic. By the names we call out at protests to call attention to state-funded violence. On the edge of a climate crisis that has started to truly bare its teeth, we are going to face millions more. Colonizers will not be bearing the brunt of any of this - in fact, in watching the ceremony for the National Day of Mourning that took place in Plymouth, MA on Thursday {1}, a speaker mentioned that Indigenous peoples bore a significant loss of life from the pandemic. There are several podcasts I’ve listened to recently that talk about the changing climate’s effects on BIPOC lives, including For the Wild {2a} and Ologies {2b}.

I went on a walk with a friend of mine recently who is also white. He has a young daughter, so is often interfacing with other families in our town. He noted that some of the adults in these familes can’t seem to conceive of what’s been going on currently or link it up with the history of our country’s past decisions. They usually seem surprised or give him blank stares. In experiencing these interactions myself, I even am greeted with people wholesale changing the subject because they can’t digest anything other than the status quo.

We compared this phenomenon to being on a train. The front car has slammed full on into a brick wall; the riders there feel the effects first. Each car eventually is going to hit the wall, and they even feel the vibrations of the cars in front of them hitting it. But the nature of the train is that inevitably there are those who get injured or die from the crash well before others. Some of the people my friend and I interfaced with are in the rear cars. They’ll hit the wall eventually, but aren’t there yet.

Some are so far in the rear that they don’t even grasp the gravity of what’s happening right in front of them.

At a family gathering two weeks ago, when the Israel-Hamas war was brought up, the only argument people could provide for supporting Israel was that the Palestinians were “killing children” and they “couldn’t stand for children being killed.” That’s where the conversation began and ended, because people couldn’t bear to think about dead children.

Well there are plenty of people having to face that reality, I wanted to say, but bit my tongue.

I later tried to broach the complexity of the war, and why Palestine needed our support, but everyone had downed so much wine that it felt like eyes and ears were sliding off of me every time I opened my mouth.

On Friday, this ignorance escalated to new heights, at a vigil that happened in Burlington on the same day as a tree lighting ceremony. As we sang and took silence for the 7000+ Palestinian children killed by Israeli forces since October 7, people walked by and gawked at us.

Someone even said we were killing the holiday spirit.

Eventually we marched into the tree lighting ceremony, which motivated the town of Burlington to send in the police force with a massive Emergency Response Vehicle and their officers in bullet-proof vests.

For people standing silently with flags and taking up space with their sadness, their solidarity. Someone got excellent footage of the chief of police blatantly harrassing protesters despite their reluctant deferral to his rank {3}.

One woman, who was against the protests and standing near me at the time, put her hand on the chief’s shoulder and said, “I’m so glad you’re here.”

As if being reminded of strife in other parts of the world were a burden she personally had to carry and she was being removed of it by this psychotic bully in uniform. As if her comfort and satiation for commercial fanfare was being balanced on a knife’s edge by the mere sight of the Palestinian flag. As if violence was going to knock on her door next, to take her away from her throne of gaudy earrings and cheap perfume.

Well, Karen, this morning we were notified that three Palestinian teens were shot in a driveby shooting in your beautiful, bucolic town of Burlington, VT. How does that feel? Too close to home?

As I alluded to earlier, every day is a Day of Mourning while inequality and senseless violence to maintain it reigns supreme on soils across the globe. It’s long past time for waking up to smell the coffee. By this point, the beans have been burning for a while and the brew will be a bitter, smoky one.