Hot Take: Empathy for the Real Story of Thanksgiving

As we slide into Thanksgiving here in the United States, I’m facing mixed emotions about this holiday as I get older and wiser. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have a lot to be thankful for, but let’s talk for a second about the myth of thanksgiving. From a traditional perspective, gathering with friends and family and reflecting on all we have to be grateful for holds comfort and joy. No matter how dysfunctional our communities or our families may be, many of us are able to come together on this holiday, to eat amazing food, watch the kids play, catch some football, and gracefully sidestep any divisive political debates, which in recent years has taken on a whole new level of Herculean effort, but having a more realistic understanding of the roots of this holiday, gives me pause. 

Listen in to hear about the true story of the first Thanksgiving, get some tips around being truthful and compassionate, while still honoring tradition, and recognize the evolution of knowledge and truth and how it can help us to become better as humans. Happy Thanksgiving to all who are listening!

Key Takeaways:

  • The first Thanksgiving was a harvest festival, not a banquet that the pilgrims and indigenous people were both invited to, and after which, relationships turned sour.
  • We can be honest and still honor our own family traditions.
  • We can’t have conversations around empathy without acknowledging that one of the country’s most revered holidays is a false picture of history, and has roots in oppression.
  • Shatter facades and replace them with something that is honest, true, and loving, both in your personal life and in your professional life. 

“Please don’t be afraid of how our knowledge evolves, even if it means uncomfortable mindset shifts. That’s how we get better over time as humans.” —  Maria Ross


Jasmine Bradshaw, First Name Basis podcast, The Untold Story of Thanksgiving (Encore)

The Empathy Edge podcast: Elisa Camahort Page: The Art of Empathy in Politics, Activism, and Media BS

The Empathy Edge podcast: M.E. Hart: How to Have Honest Conversations at Work

The Empathy Edge podcast: Mónica Guzmán: How to Have Fearlessly Curious Conversations in Divided Political Times

The Empathy Edge podcast: David Weissman: From MAGA to Jewish Liberal Progressive

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