Celebrating Columbus Day is a step backward


Photo courtesy of Viator.com

“In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue” is the narrative we’ve all heard since grade school that serves as an easy explanation for children about the discovery of America. The older you get the more you learn how horrendous the actions of Columbus were and how problematic it is that we as a country – lovingly defined as a melting pot – still celebrate this. In all honesty, Columbus Day should have never existed to begin with.

Instead of celebrating Columbus Day, some states have opted to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day – a holiday that celebrates and honors the cultures, history and customs of Native Americans. Currently, 12 states and the District of Columbia celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day, but Columbus Day still remains nationally.

There are a few issues with continuing to celebrate Columbus Day in 2019. Namely, the United States’ turbulent history with Native Americans. Through enslavement and a general abuse of power, celebrating Columbus Day is an offensive slap in the face to Native Americans.

There is no reason that we as Americans should still be celebrating this holiday. Celebrating Columbus Day is nothing but celebrating a man who caused an attempted genocide on an entire population.

For starters, in all of Columbus’ voyages, he never stepped foot on what would become the 50 states, nor did his discoveries lead to the English settlement that would then become the United States.

Columbus Day embodies over 500 years of oppression and unfair treatment to Native Americans, and it’s time we stop celebrating that. There are a slew of pointless holidays that we celebrate in this country that are symbols of oppression rather than joyous holidays. Columbus Day, among others, is one of the holidays that could be abolished – or transformed into Indigenous Peoples Day – and no one would bat an eye.

For years, the holiday has tied Columbus’ name with the Native Americans, bringing up wounds that still hurt for some Natives today. It’s unfair and hurtful for Natives to still share a holiday with a man who only had his best interest in mind.

A switch as simple as a name change has had amazing effects. Instead of praising Columbus by immortalizing his name with this holiday, we should celebrate the unique history of the Natives. You cannot erase the past history of injustices done towards Native Americans, but changing the name and purpose of the holiday into one that celebrates them is definitely a step in the right direction.

America has a rough and unfair history when it comes to how it treats marginalized groups, something we as a country should strive to change every day. It starts by facing the history of injustices placed on a marginalized group and fighting to make that group feel more included in this place. We all deserve a comfortable seat at the table, and if that means getting rid of holidays or symbols that glorify injustice, then that’s what we should do.