Dear Kennedy, Madison, Scout, Britney, Cassidy, Cheyenne, et al.,
Not to sound like I’m singling anyone out here, but as an Indigenous woman, I feel just a skoosh bit territorial, to put it mildly, about the commercial appropriation of pumpkin spice, and how each year seems worse than the last. I don’t mean to exaggerate, but each year the pumpkin-spice season virtually impales me with dread as I wait for the pumpkin-spice hysteria to lay siege upon my otherwise placid, pumpkin-spice-free life. I don’t intend to pumpkin-spice shame anyone, but I’m talking to you, Piper, Lisbeth, and Clementine.
Pumpkins and their kinfolk squash have a very specific meaning for Indigenous people. Squash, along with corn and beans, are among the three sisters and are specific to several eastern tribes, such as the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois). I hope you will keep that in mind when you order up your next pumpkin-spice latte, McKenzie, or light your candelabra of pumpkin-spice-scented candles nestled among those inevitable gourds so tastefully arranged on your autumnal table, Aspen.
I hope that when you feel that irresistible urge to impulse-buy those pumpkin-spice Oreos, or that pumpkin-spice Special K, or even that pumpkin-spice-scented Listerine or feminine hygiene product, Mathilda, that you’ll stop and take a moment to think about the origins of that pumpkin-spice Purina Cat Food you’re so casually placing on the checkout counter. I hope that you’ll pause and reflect upon how your irresistible urge for pumpkin-spice Cheerios, Hortense, is part and parcel the same irresistible urge that brought your ancestors to our shores; that same irresistible urge your ancestors had when they slashed, burned, slain, and pillaged their way across North America in the name of their One True Lord. And while I don’t agree that pumpkin-spice scratch ’n sniff liner paper for your cupboards is a particularly wise or dignified choice for your new apartment, Peyton, I can still appreciate a handful of pumpkin-spice Skittles just like the next gal, and I can even appreciate the novelty of motherfucking pumpkin-spice ranch dressing, Vanderbilt. I’m not a complete philistine!
I personally have never had a pumpkin-spice latte, and even if you handed one to me, Ariel, and even if I was very cold, or very thirsty, Lexus, I doubt that I would drink it. I am troubled by the colonial undercurrents of pumpkin spice, Finnegan, and in an effort to create awareness of pumpkin spice cultural appropriation, and to help implement safe place environments, Delaney, there needs to be at minimum, pumpkin-spice-free zones at all coffee shops, and restaurants, and preferably, assorted autumnal drinks for women of color. Maybe Chai or jalapeno chocolate, Chai. I feel that it’s important to decolonize the pumpkin, Porsche, and place limits on the settler mentality’s love affair with all things pumpkin spice, Hannah.