Along with the ongoing discussion on whether Confederate statues should be allowed to stand on public grounds, another branch of that argument is the celebration of Christopher Columbus Day.
The holiday is meant to celebrate the founding of “the New World” and is considered a national holiday in the United States. However, many believe the celebration of the holiday is inappropriate considering what Columbus’ arrival to “the New World” meant for the indigenous people who had always lived in the Americas.
Debate.org actually found 68 percent of individuals polled feel it shouldn’t be celebrated. With that changing shift in the public opinion, the Los Angeles City Council voted 14-1 to discontinue celebrating Christopher Columbus Day. In its place, the city will observe Indigenous Peoples Day.
History.com noted there are three issues with the celebration of Columbus’ discovery. Columbus killed, raped, and enslaved many of the indigenous Americans, who he believed were impeding his mission. Furthermore, the slave trade, both labor and sexual, was a lucrative business. In fact, historians found that on the first day he arrived, he enslaved six natives. Huffington Post reported Columbus sold girls as young as nine. They also noted a reference in his OWN diary to the sex trade.
‘A hundred castellanoes are as easily obtained for a woman as for a farm, and it is very general and there are plenty of dealers who go about looking for girls; those from nine to ten are now in demand.’
In all actuality, Columbus was literally the first slave trader in the Americas. His son became the first African slave trader when the native population dwindled.
His arrival to the Americas destroyed the Taino population and many others, and a population of 250,000 dwindled to a few hundred after 60 years.
In another example of Columbus’ disgusting brutality, he had many natives killed due to their uprising and had their bodies paraded down the streets of the Dominican Republic. Additionally, the Huffington Post reported a group of 100 natives committed mass suicide due to the intensive labor they were forced to perform.
He and his crew forced Christianity on the natives and his arrival brought along a plague of diseases that would wipe out populations of native Americans.
On top of all this, Columbus was actually arrested for his atrocities by Spain’s Governor Francisco De Bobadilla. Columbus was pardoned by the Royals, however.
The move made by the Los Angeles City Council was just a small step in honoring the Native Americans who were forced to give up the land we so greedily consider ours. There are many more steps to be made to address the injustices committed towards Native Americans; however, it is becoming obvious the public opinion on the celebration of such a disgusting guy is shifting. It is no longer acceptable to whitewash the history of the United States. We can love our country but still recognize, without glorification, it was found and created on the backs of Native Americans and black men and women in the most brutal ways.
Featured image by Sebastiano del Piombo [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons