1001 Black Men–#266

It’s that day of the year when Americans from coast to coast descend on their local grocery stores, combing through produce bins and store shelves in search of the right ingredients to recreate Those special side dishes and desserts that they remember from childhood. At Farmer Joe’s grocery store on Fruitvale, I was pleasantly surprised by how kind everyone was to each other. The store was packed, carts were bumping into each other, and people were jockeying for position at the meat counter; and yet no one was curt or rude to anyone else. All of us who were shopping this afternoon greeted each bumped cart or accidental elbow with a smile and a brief holiday greeting. Smiles were on everyone’s faces and the mood was light, except for the guy in this picture. There seemed to be a little storm cloud hovering over his head, and he was the only shopper who seemed not to be having fun. Thanksgiving means many things to many people; and here, in the Bay Area, many if not most residents think of the holiday as a more generalized moment to share their gratitude for the gifts that life has bestowed on them. There is little talk of pilgrims or native Americans living in an idealized version of early colonial harmony. There is, however, much talk of free range turkeys, organic sweet potatoes, and homemade glazes made with local honey.

Perhaps the man in this picture is  too troubled by the traditional narrative of the so-called “first Thanksgiving” to apply his own meanings; or perhaps the meanings many of us have applied in remaking this holiday to serve our own wants and needs is not enough. For now, I’ll continue to enjoy the day as a celebration of all of the wonderful people and experiences that have made my life such a wonderful journey.

For those of you who will also be raising a turkey leg in celebration of the day, I wish you a happy Thanksgiving with great food and good family and friends.

Ajuan Mance


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