PRESIDENT'S CORNER: Are You Thankful?

Crystal Hawkins Syska | November 18, 2021

Crystal Hawkins Syska, HGAR President 2021

Turkey Day, as I like to call it, is upon us. This is the time of year when many Americans sit down with friends and family to think about what they are thankful for and gorge themselves on tasty vittles. It also can be a very, very stressful time and can trigger deep sorrowful episodes for those who may struggle with depression, are lonely, have strained relationships with family members or may have lost a loved one around this time of year.

For yet others, our indigenous people of color, it can be a time of mourning on a scale that is incomprehensible for most of us. The conquered are surrounded in every way by their supplanters. It’s important to talk about this in this context as it has to do ultimately with ownership of land in the most extreme way. I feel sad when I think about things in this way—to consider the perspective of the people who lived here long before the colonists came, when slaves were bought here, and when immigrants came to begin new lives.

With that in mind, shall we allow ourselves to make room for it and expand our consideration for giving thanks. Having a land of our own, a country of our own and home of our own is tied to our identity. So much so that a study conducted and recorded by the Perceptive Mind Institute found that the reality of homelessness is so traumatic it is the reason that it is difficult to make eye contact with a homeless person. It’s very hard for our minds to process. And in a defense response to protect ourselves, we tune these persons out. Interestingly, it’s this same defense response that challenges our ability to synthesize the losses of our indigenous people. It’s so big and scary we shield ourselves from it.

So, are you truly thankful? Are you truly thankful that you have a roof over your head? That you have heat in the winter, air conditioning in the summer? In-door plumbing? Are you thankful for a sense of belonging, community and safety? Can you embrace a sense of grace and humility that an entire nation and culture of people lost all that so that something new was created where they and us get to share, although not equally? Yet, more of our citizens are currently living without this sense of safety and protection.

When we sit to have our dinners or give pies out to our clients and customers, could we consider an additional way to give thanks? Can we meet with fellow agents and or clients/customers to purchase a property to rehabilitate and house those without a home? Can we find a person or persons to mentor and coach in financial literacy for those souls to start their lives over? Consider this, can you create a referral program in which a percentage of your commission goes to a fund to finance a housing program? Can we volunteer at a soup kitchen this holiday?

In regards to our local indigenous people, could we learn more about the nations that lived in the space we now occupy? Who were they? Who among them are left now? What treaties and agreements were made with them that created the towns and villages we live in now? What were the wars that took place? Is there a historical society we can get information from? Or even donate too? Can we make new friends whose background is native?

Two definitions of being thankful are the following:

“Being conscious of a benefit received or for what we are about to receive and expressing gratitude for such.”

“A grateful act or sense of relief.”

We are the great beneficiaries of the land on which we live and a system which allows us to acquire even more. Let’s not take it for granted, or ignore those who have even less or close our eyes to the legacy of the former inhabitants’ loss. Embracing all of it is what truly makes us better. Be safe and let’s take care of each other!

Crystal Hawkins Syska
is the 2021 President of the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors, Inc