Social Justice Alliance sheds light on food disparity at Unthanksgiving

The Department of Housing and Dining Services’ Social Justice Alliance invited students to participate in its Unthanksgiving banquet from 5:00-6:30 p.m. in the Kramer Dining Center Tallgrass Ballroom on Sunday. This event educated residents about relevant issues in diversity and multiculturalism by celebrating indigenous peoples of North America as well as having them participate in a hunger banquet. (Brooke Barrett | Collegian Media Group)

On Sunday evening, the Social Justice Alliance treated its guests to an unconventional Thanksgiving meal.

Instead of the classic turkey paired with traditional sides like mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce, guests ate Mexican food and received tickets with scenarios that determined the amount of food they were served.

Cody Hopkins, senior in park management and conservation, received a ticket marking him a farmer for the event who had lost his only income, so he received less food.

“Coming from a middle class family and only getting rice and a tortilla makes me feel really grateful about where I came from,” Hopkins said.

Programming co-director of the Social Justice Alliance and sophomore in communication studies Marley Lowe said the event was born out of wanting to get down to realizing the reality of Thanksgiving.

“We came up with the idea because we wanted to put on a program together for November, and we wanted to bring into light the ways in which Native Americans have been oppressed through the nature of Thanksgiving,” Lowe said. “Since Thanksgiving is so focused on food we also wanted to bring to light the way that food disparity impacts everyone especially on the college level.”

Jacquii Ayala-Cruz, Social Justice Alliance programming co-director and junior in interior design, was the main speaker at the event. She discussed what happened after the three-day feast the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Nation shared, which Ayala-Cruz said is not taught in schools.

“While some view Thanksgiving as a day to fill themselves up with food, for others it is a day that is cemented in history that will a mark the beginning of their end,” Ayala-Cruz said.

The event, though meant to shed light on truth, was not meant to make participants feel guilty, Ayala-Cruz said. It was to recognize and bring awareness to why some Native Americans refer to Thanksgiving as a day of mourning.

“Thanksgiving was warped to be about giving thanks and working to help each out,” Ayala-Cruz said. “We ask that you recognize the injustices that indigenous people face and to give thanks for any privilege you have been given or born with. We ask that you use that privilege to make the world a better place.”