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Content Warning: This article discusses Christopher Columbus and his various crimes, including racially-motivated murders, enslavement, and sexual assault.
The public outcry against the holiday celebrating the monster we all know as Christopher Columbus has increased in recent years. Even South Park has done an episode about what a shitbag that guy really was. For those who need the abbreviated version, suffice it to say that Columbus did not discover North America, as the places he visited were already populated by thriving communities with rich cultural heritage.
More importantly, he never set foot in what is now known as the United States of America. He reached the land substantially farther south and ignorantly began calling the native population Indians because he really believed he had found a passage from Europe to the Indian subcontinent via the ocean.
So first of all, Columbus didn’t actually do what people praise him for. More importantly, he didn’t even think he did what people claim he did. As if being an egotistical ignoramus wasn’t enough, Columbus was also a violent, racist monster.
His journals and letters make it clear that he had zero regard for the indigenous populations where he and his crews landed. In fact, he openly encouraged the violent military subjugation of indigenous populations as well as European colonizers forcing them into slavery. Not only did he advise European royals to subjugate the local populations through violence, but he and his crews abducted, killed, and raped women and children. There are records of girls as young as nine being sold into sexual slavery by Columbus and those working for him.
Not only did he use incredibly violent tactics when indigenous populations tried to push back against him, but he went so far as to publicly display the dismembered remains of people he had murdered to deter others from fighting back.
Thankfully, the city council in Washington DC is not putting up with the disgusting celebration of this violent, terrible human anymore. On Tuesday, October 8th, 2019, they passed an emergency bill to change the name of the federal holiday within DC to Indigenous Peoples’ Day and center the celebration on indigenous culture and people.
By doing so, DC has joined over 100 municipalities and eight states around the country that no longer recognize Christopher Columbus as a person worth celebrating. Many people are hopeful that the law will take effect before Monday, October 14th. However, it still requires the signature of the mayor and formal approval by Congress if it is to become a permanent law for the District of Columbia.
It is about time that our nation recognizes that this holiday is not just a joke because it celebrates an accomplishment that didn’t occur, but also because it forces our public education system to continue to laud Columbus as some kind of American hero and not the racist monster he really was. One can only hope that the federal government will soon follow suit and permanently end the celebration of the historical joke known as Christopher Columbus.
For previous Ladybud articles about institutionalized racism, click here.