October 14, 2013

Columbus Day celebrates white superiority

I thought this was going to be a quiet Columbus Day. I hadn't seen the usual spate of anti-Columbus articles a week or two before the holiday. But a last-minute flurry suggests people are still campaigning against the so-called discoverer.

Live protests

Genocide on the Quad: In NYC, Students Mark Columbus Day With 'Die-In'On October 14, Columbus Day, a group of students at Columbia University staged a grim protest dubbed a "Die-In." In fact, the display happened four times over the course of the day; according to Tristin Moone of the Native American Council of Columbia University, about 60 different people participated, with each Die-In consisting of about 30 individuals posing as corpses.

"The goal of the demonstration was to show that when celebrating 'Columbus Day,' people are celebrating genocide and the continual effects of it," Moone told ICTMN. "This wasn't a cultural showcase, it was demonstrating the impact of colonization on Indigenous peoples."

Bay Area American Indians Demand Removal of Columbus Statue

'We Have Nothing to Celebrate': Columbus Day Protesters Fill Streets of Santiago

Arguments against Columbus Day

I'm not sure there's anything new to say about what's wrong with Columbus Day. But here are some of the best articles I read on the subject this year:

Today is Columbus Day in the United States of America

Mutilation and Other Carnage: War Crimes Committed by Columbus

Stop Saying Columbus 'Discovered' the Americas—It Erases Indigenous History

Why I Celebrate Indigenous People’s Day (Not Columbus Day)

By Sarah J. JacksonI remember when I first posted the above video to my Facebook page in 2009 a high school classmate who wasn’t friends with me in high school but ended up connected to me online (you know how it goes) responded with “Oh come on, without Columbus none of us would be here.” To me, that small comment sums up everything that is wrong with celebrating Columbus Day. It entirely excludes the Native people of the Americas by assuming that without colonialism “none of us” would be here. Actually, there would be people here. There were people here. And those people, 565 tribes of them, are still here no matter how much more convenient it is for people to imagine the contrary. Further, this sentiment assumes that those of us who did end up in the Americas wanted to be here, that European colonialism helped us, and that we and are better off because of it. Needless to say the decedents of the millions of Africans whose native lands were also colonized, who were enslaved and forcibly brought to “the New World” didn’t choose to be here. Years later many Asians we’re brought to the Americas as cheap labor or immigrated after their own countries were physically and economically colonized and exploited. It goes without saying that globally colonialism didn’t benefit people of African and Asian decent any more than it did indigenous Americans. Yet, we’re all here now together expected to celebrate this holiday as if it is not political and as if it does not completely ignore the history of black, Asian, Native/Pacific Islander Americans and Latinos, people who together will make up 50-percent of this county’s population by 2050.Don’t Honor Columbus or the Colonial Notion of “Discovery”

By Sloane Cornelius[T]his co-opt of discovery is truly just coded language for playing the racial superiority game. It is deeply rooted in the idea that whomever discovers first gets to claim, and whoever can claim more is obviously superior. This is a heavily colonized attitude wherein people attempt to elevate themselves and their communities at the cost of our humanity and at the expense of our history, all so that they can gain legitimacy in this white world that we live in. It perpetrates this violent idea that the only way to prove your worth is by proving how much you have and by how much you have dominated.Columbus' Principles of Discovery

By Sherri MitchellInterestingly, when you engage in actual conversation over the actions of Columbus, there seems to be very little debate regarding the atrocities that he committed. Rather, the debate tends to be centered on how we should view the act of discovery itself; is it an act of terrorism or heroism? The unfortunate truth is that many have simply come to accept that with conquest comes carnage, and that destruction of place, loss of life and departure from humanity is an acceptable price to pay for the discovery of new lands. In fact, these principles of discovery seem to have become part of the social value structure of this country. One commentator even stated that the goal of those who oppose Columbus Day is to denigrate the values of western civilization. I found this particular comment to be quite telling. Shouldn’t the goals of a just society include the denigration of values that are attached to genocide, conquest, domination and slavery? America claims to be a just society, yet it continues to instruct its youth to emulate the horrific history of conquest that brought Columbus to the Americas.Today We Honor Columbus, An Inspiration to Cruel Half-Wits EverywhereIn many ways, Christopher Columbus is the perfect American. He was loud, ignorant, greedy and evil, and his intolerance was fueled by his religious extremism. His life's work was stealing wealth, bamboozling the government, and crushing the little people—whether his own shipmates or the Caribbean natives.Celebrating Indians instead

Celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Let's Get Rid of Columbus Day Forever!

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