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Dwelling in Gratitude with Nikki Sanchez

Nikki Sanchez is a frontline activist, academic, media-maker and a decolonial and anti-racist educator.


NIKKI: Pialli Cualli Tlaneci. Ni itoca Nicola Sanchez-Hood. Ni Cuscatleta, ni Maya Pipil den Cuscatlán. My name is Nikki Sanchez. I am a front-line activist, an academic, a media-maker and a decolonial and anti-racist educator.

ZAK: It's American Thanksgiving and Nikki is here to remind us that this holiday isn't just about jubilation. To a lot of people, Thanksgiving is...

NIKKI: ...the basis of genocide of Native American people in what's known as North America now and so the harms that it causes to celebrate that as a jubilant day when for so many people it is very intimately still linked to the trauma that they live in their lives and their communities. But additionally to that, Thanksgiving as a holiday has been borrowed and manipulated into American culture from many, many diverse and very old traditions around the world that our celebrating harvest and showing gratitude and reaffirming commitment to reciprocal relationships with land and with one another and other co-habitants of your landscape and so I think rather then needing to throw away this holiday we could reclaim it and repurpose it back into its truest origins. For most people if they did their own genealogies, they could find significant holidays that were similar that are really around gratitude and wellness and that's an opportunity to really connect with who you are and what your gifts are and what your lineage is as well things that bring you joy and comfort.

ZAK: And so, before calling blasphemy on the idea of maybe not eating turkey today, Nikki suggests we create menus inspired by our own heritage and backgrounds.

NIKKI: And that not only really affirms our connection to our own ancestors and our own identifies but also it's probably much better for our individual bodies because we've evolved, adapting to those specific foods and it's definitely better for out global health because we're not over-sourcing and overproducing a single mono-crop just for one day of the year.

ZAK: I wonder what you think a question that people can ask themselves on Thanksgiving might be to help them reframe what the holiday can mean for them.

NIKKI: Yeah, I think a really important question is what am I truly grateful for. The pandemic, I think for many people has helped reveal the things that we most value and the second questions is how can I take time to actually dwell in my gratitude. So rather than just having the thought, I'm grateful for my wife, I'm grateful for my children or I'm grateful for this river that provides me fish...what does it actually feel like to enact or demonstrate and embody gratitude in a way that feels most authentic to you, not necessarily how it's externally prescribed or marketed but in a way that really feels authentic is a healthy practice.

ZAK: I hope your holiday is full of meaning and embodied gratitude. I want to thank Priya Krishna for her piece in the New York Times. It led me to Nikki Sanchez and inspired today's episode. It's called, How to Do Thanksgiving with Less Waste. I linked to it in our show notes. You've been listening to The Best Advice Show. If you have some advice to offer, I would love to hear it. The hotline is always open. 844-935-BEST. THANK YOU.

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