Thanksgiving On Our Minds: What We are Thankful For, Plus a Report on Yesterday’s Special Legislative Session

Today, Roxanne and I offer thoughts on what we are thankful for with suggestions for how to deepen the Thanksgiving conversation, whether held via zoom or across the table and close with a powerful piece offered by our allies from TEWA.

NM State Legislature, Meets, Discusses
Approves $330M Covid Relief

Legislation allocating $330 million of mostly unspent CARES ACT funding was approved by the NM State Senate, by a vote of 33-5, with absentions from Sen. Ramos, Muñoz, Cervantes and Sapien. The five noes were all GOP. In the House the vote was along party lines at 59-11 with several GOP crossing the aisle in support of the bill.

The legislation appropriates $194 million for one-time unemployment compensation to bolster unemployment checks by $300 a week for four weeks. Also included in the package is $100 million for grants of up to $50,000 for small businesses and nonprofits, with a prioritization of the hospitality and restaurant industry. Given the short-term scope of the unemployment, it seems the legislature and Governor are trying to support New Mexicans through January in hopes that the Federal government will actually function some time before then.

A smaller pot of $15 million would provide emergency housing assistance, while another $5 million will go to shoring up the state’s many food banks with emergency funds.

While there was some squabbling among Republicans who contended that the Governor had the authority to allocate the funds without convening, while Senator Candelaria squawked that the Governor is being highly selective in interpretting the CARES Act funding restrictions with some of what is currently being allocated being outside the Act’s prescriptive limits. Candelaria also noted that the Governor had asserted allocating these funds was up to the Governor, not requiring the legislature’s approval. In which case, he claimed: “this was a very expensive PR move.” Candelaria wasn’t alone in rendering Democratic complaints, with Senator Cervantes stating that the Governor had set this up as a rubber stamp with insufficient time to make any changes or to inject any of the good ideas that surfaced during discussions.

Despite this squabbling, it was gratifying to see a legislative body actually function in service of its constituents. If you want to begin readying yourself for the 2021 legislative session, you will want to register for our zoom below. The zoom room is rapidly filling so register below.

Tuesday, Dec. 1, 6:30 – 8 pm. Election Debrief and 2021 Legislative Agenda Review with Senate Floor Leader Peter Wirth and Speaker of the House Brian Egolf. We will discuss how the primaries and the general election have altered the Democratic caucuses in the House and Senate and what those changes mean for getting transformational legislation passed in 2021. We will also discuss the national election and what may have been a pretty chaotic November.

Click to register for this Zoominar.

What We are Thankful For

We wanted to share a few words about a most unusual year and what Roxanne and I are most grateful for. Of course, the vaccine with its hope of bringing some release from Covid isolation and this recession will be topping most anyone’s list.

We are grateful that we are only 37 days from January 1. And I don’t know about you, but on NYE we plan to burn the 2020 calendar we have ensconced on our fridge. So we are grateful we can turn that page. Obviously we are grateful that we will be escorting Trump from office and also grateful for the opportunity in January to win both runoffs in Georgia.

We are grateful for an array of state, national and international leaders who courageously shine the light on injustice and refuse to relent. Greta, AOC, Bernie, Corey Bush (BLM), Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, Stacey Abrams, (to name but a few) and the thousands and thousands of activists from throughout the world.

In NM, we are grateful for our allies at NM Voices, Common Cause, New Energy Economy, Chainbreaker, Somos, NM Environmental Law Center, WildEarth Guardians, Working Families Party, TEWA, Taos United, Nasty Women, Indivisible, Adelante and Earth Care, with a special debt of gratitude for the emergence of YUCCA and their inspiring youth leaders.

We are grateful for leaders like Senators Jerry Ortiz y Pino and Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, Rep. Javier Martinez (and a host of other progressive NM House Reps), and Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard. We are also profoundly grateful for the the thousands of NM activists who are always there, always pushing. And here we won’t name names as to do so would only result in my overlooking many committed people.

We are grateful for each other and that all our kids are healthy, safe and reasonably secure, no given these days.

And we are grateful for you. Over the past four years, from town halls, rallies, Democratic Party conventions, lobbying in crowded Roundhouse hallways, and then shifting to zooms and zoominars, we have forged a community of like-minded people who are open to new ideas and willing to commit themselves to action. Thank you. Roxanne and I will toast the Retake community on Thursday afternoon before turkey for two.

While we have much to be grateful for, we also have much to mourn and topping that list are the over 250,000 Americans and 1.4 million humans who have lost their lives not just from COVID, but from the lack of leadership, here in the US and throughout the world. And it isn’t lost on us, who bears the brunt of this pandemic, the frontline health workers, the teachers, the store clerks, the communities of color who comprise the majoirty of “essential workers” and the indigenous communities who lack the infrastructure and resources to resist the pandemic. And so we mourn the loss of those lives, as we feel grateful for those workers’ continued sacrifice.

We hope each of you take a bit of time to think about what we’ve been through this year and what lies ahead in 2021. We feel that if we take only one lesson from 2020, it is that we are all interconnected, what you do impacts everyone and so by extension, what a growing group of committed folks can do matters. In 2021, let’s continue to make “good trouble” and continue to matter.

Be well, stay safe, stay healthy, stay hopeful.

Paul & Roxanne

Managing Thanksgiving Conversation

There is a saying that you should not mix politics and Thanksgiving. I do not subscribe to this theory. I feel that family and friends are precisely the people with whom one should be able to discuss current affairs and this year, more than ever, it feels like we need to begin talking together and not just about how good the stuffing is and whether the Cowboys can come back in the second half.

So each year I offer suggestions for ways you can delicately challenge your table and ask for a few brief moments to reflect on who we are. This year, however, I think it might be good to start by just asking everyone to respond to this one question: “Are you ok? How are you doing?” You don’t have to be a nurse in an Covid wing to be impacted by the surreal life we are living. So, checking in with everyone and encouraging people to share their feelings might be a good way to break the ice.

Last year, on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I offered some ideas for acknowledging that wherever you are in the US, you are on stolen land and that the Thanksgiving tradition is a false narrative. Indigenous people were not part of some glorious breaking of the bread with the colonists who were driving them out of existence. That is a myth. What is not a myth, of course, is that indigenous people had their land stolen and that Covid has disproportionately devastated indigenous communities.

Most Thanksgiving dinners begin with some sort of prayer or with some communal sharing of what each person is thankful for. 2020 is going to be different for many reasons, the most obvious being that many will be celebrating with a handful of folks at most. At least I sincerely hope so. But there is also clearly going to be Thanksgiving Zoomfest around the nation with families connecting remotely. And so the suggestions from last year can easily be adapted to that context.

The other difference this year is Covid. A vaccine is coming and certainly that is something to be prospectively thankful for, but 2020 has been a horrorific exposé of America’s basest instincts, whether manifest in armed domestic terrorists challenging BLM protesters or anti maskers defiantly partying, protesting, assembling, maskless and free. And while all have suffered from this pandemic, no community has suffered more than indigenous communities. Some things don’t seem to ever change.

Given these differences, I’d suggest that all of us try to acknowledge this reality. When asked what you are thankful, you could start by just acknowledging wherever you are that you are enjoying your feast or your zoom on stolen indigenous land.

If there is a prayer offered. Once the prayer is completed, simply state: “I’d like us to share a moment of silence to give thanks that we are able to assemble here together and to acknowledge that we are assembled on stolen land.” If you are in Santa Fe, you likely know that we are on Tewa land, but if you click here, you can plug in any Zip Code in the U.S. and find the name of the indigenous people who once were shepherding the land far better than we are.

Some friends will appreciate this and some will never have encountered it before. Your brief acknowledgement will likely give pause, but not launch an assault on you for having broached a pretty indisputable historic truth. If you do not partake in prayer before dinner, simply ask if you may offer some thoughts before digging in.

If you want to do a bit more than acknowledge the land, before you go off to your Thanksgiving Dinner, spend a bit of time with this excerpt from Jamie Blosser, Santa Fe Art Institute CEO, explore the links she has provided today, and be prepared to talk a bit about the implications of our theft of indigenous lands:

For many of our country’s first peoples, Thanksgiving is not only celebrating a false history, but proves yet again how invisible they and their realities are to mainstream America. Did you know that there are over 565 federally recognized sovereign tribal nations? This is not even including the many more communities that are state-recognized or have not received U.S. government recognition. The Thanksgiving that celebrates Pilgrims and Native Americans breaking bread, inasmuch as it is a real story, is a story about only one such community, the Mashpee Wampanoag people, and I encourage you to read this New Yorker article about the true history of Thanksgiving and the Mashpee Wampanoag. 

This holiday, please consider what you can personally do to acknowledge the true histories and contemporary realities of Native Americans. Check out this great map, showing Indigenous territories and languages around the world, and consider supporting amazing Indigenous-led organizations who are doing brilliant work, such as Tewa Women United, the Pueblo Action AllianceNative Women Lead,Sovereign Bodies InstituteUtah Diné Bikéyah, and First Nations Community Health Source

Jamie Blosser, Santa Fe Art Institute

And we also offer up an invitation from our ally, TEWA:

Thanksgiving is a time to raise up the gratitude that nurtures our Relational-tivity with each other. At the same time, this is a deeply problematic and painful holiday for Indigenous communities. We hold that complexity this week as we reach out to let you know how grateful we are for your ongoing kindness and support.
We encourage you to take time to read this article that explores this complexity and offers a pathway to reparations, justice, and healing: “Healing From Colonization on Thanksgiving and Beyond.”

The link at the end of the TEWA note is well worth your time. It could also be something you send to those with whom you are sharing your feast in person or via Zoom. It is a deeply personal reflection on what we, as a people, as a nation, must begin to accept, grapple with and address: we have been and remain the most powerful nation on earth and to a shameful degree have used that power violently and to subject those who are less powerful than we are.

If you are asked what you are thankful for — You can offer up whatever you would normally say but please do include acknowledgment of the sacrifices made by so many essential workers. As noted above, Roxanne and i will also be including you in our thoughts on the things for which we are thankful.

Be safe, healthy and hopeful. 2021 will be better. We hope.

In solidarity, hope and thankfulness,

Paul & Roxanne

Categories: Social Safety Net

Tags: , , , ,

4 replies

  1. I told you that getting rid of Papen would not change anything, now you have Worth! More of the same. John Arthur has been replaced c GOP, good luck getting any Democratic votes. Watch what you wish for. I am not a fan but at least he voted for some Dem issues!

  2. I love the Yes Magazine, and this is a great article about decolonizing Thanksgiving.

  3. Leave it to Senator Gabe Ramos to exit with an abstension on unemplyment for the hurting miners. He support Freeport Mining, not the miners.

  4. Thank you for the TEWA info. I’m so glad we are working with them. ( I have been a part of their organization since its beginning , with Kathy Sanchez)! Let us honor & care for their land, Harriet

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: