Thanksgiving 2012: Celebrating our city, Thursday afternoon football...and the right to protest it all

November 21, 2012

The National Thanksgiving turkey and its alternate are seen during a press conference November 20, 2012 at the W Hotel in Washington, DC. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

First, I'll tell you what I'm glad to have.

To start, I'm thankful for decent public transportation options in and around the D.C. area. For all the complaining I hear on a daily basis, the fact that Metro is reliable enough is something I appreciate. I remember the days when things were way worse: back when I rode the Metro to school everyday in the early 1990s there were far less stations than there are today and knowing when a train would arrive seemed like something from Star Wars.

I don't know where you came from where the transit system is clean, cheap, timely and never breaks down, but please do let me know so I can suggest somewhere for people to visit.

 Which leads me to another point. Somewhat paradoxically, Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful for transplants. Unlike tourists, transplants are here year around, except for a few glorious weeks in August and around the holidays. And everyone goes home for Turkey Day. Nothing like seeing my old friends on this upcoming weekend, because so many folks have left town. Thank you for while you're here, but man it's nice when you're gone for a bit. I'm kidding. Sort of.

And though many of you are responsible for the G-word, I'll also say thanks for that. Because of gentrification, two of my favorite places to eat as a kid and growing up are now able to expand. Ben's Chili Bowl is opening a location on H Street soon enough, and even Horace & Dickie's has a new spot now. Right in my childhood neighborhood, too!

 Have countless other things and people been torn down, pushed out or otherwise run out of business? Sure. But, like many who protest the Thanksgiving might say, isn’t that what the holiday is really about - celebrating what ultimately led to the displacement of a people? Again, I'm kidding. Sort of.

Lastly, there are a couple men I'm glad have put their creative skills to good use for this weekend. And though they both haven't been without their share of controversy over the years, this weekend, they'll have my attention.

R. Kelly is releasing new chapters of his perfectly absurd series, "Trapped In the Closet." And to boot, he announced at a public viewing Monday that he may even take his show on the road and potentially star in some performances himself! It's a Thanksgiving miracle. Hello, Mother's Day present. Just kidding. Totally.

 To me, nothing brings a people together like a well-anticipated television event. For you, it might be football. And with Washington playing Dallas Thursday afternoon, that will definitely be part of the agenda. But after that, I have Mr. Spike Lee to thank.

The mega-director's "BAD 25" will air on ABC Thursday night and I couldn't be more excited about it. Michael Jackson might be the one universal constant of adoration across all branches and wings of my family, no questions asked. I'm already looking forward to the impromptu karaoke sessions this will spark. Not kidding at all.

 But in all seriousness, I'm most thankful for the fact that the horrific acts that led to the marginalization and effective genocide of this land's native tribes are at least a well-understood and recognized fact these days. I do think it's possible to be thankful for what one has - in addition to being respectful of what that holiday may represent to others.

And coming from a family with modest Native American heritage, it is definitely a conflicting feeling. But, whatever you choose to do on Nov. 22, I respect your right to do it. Thankfully, that's an option.

Yates is a columnist for The RootDC

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Clinton Yates is a D.C. native and an online columnist. When he's not covering the city, pop culture or listening to music, he watches sports. A lot of them.
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