Today, apparently, is Columbus Day. This is a day, ostensibly, where we celebrate a man who overcame adversity to make perhaps the greatest geographical discovery in human history. It’s a celebration of tenacity, ingenuity, and human achievement. It’s also an exercise in ignoring the subjugation, enslavement, and attempted genocide of an entire population by a group of colonialists motivated almost entirely by pure greed.
The premise of Columbus Day is that this is the day, in 1492, when Christopher Columbus discovered America. No he fucking didn’t. America was “discovered” sometime between 10,000-30,000 years earlier by a group of people who settled the land and lived there relatively peacefully until they were forced out of their homes and slaughtered by the millions.
Columbus isn’t some hero whose accomplishments we should celebrate. He was a monster who oversaw the systematic extermination of at least three million people. He was a brutal dictator who literally worked the native population to death in his pursuit of wealth. The genocide Columbus oversaw is comparable to the Holocaust in magnitude and brutality.
And yet, we have a holiday celebrating him. His face is placed on coins, he has streets named after him, and he is one of the most well-known and revered people in history. Every child is taught about Columbus and his “discovery”, and he gets a federal holiday, alongside war veterans and Martin Luther King. Does this seem wrong to you? Because it should.
Furthermore, the brutality the native population faced under Columbus didn’t end with him. It never ended. Since Columbus, Native American and First Nations people have suffered oppression, poverty, and racism at the hands of a white culture that quite literally celebrates their extermination. When people speak up about the injustices they face, they’re ignored. Their entire history is whitewashed by the dominant culture to remove any trace of the idea that white people aren’t always the “good guys.”
White people, this is for you. Hurry up and realize that Christopher Columbus was not a nice person. Stop celebrating him and his horrible legacy. Seriously. Stop.