Columbus Day Is Not A Holiday



Some states have opted out of celebrating Columbus Day.

Isabella Chan, News Editor

As a child, I often looked forward to any day it meant for a random day off of school or class activities involving coloring pages, this would almost always occur during the holidays. Often times I did not understand what I was celebrating; whether it was Labor Day or Arbor Day I was grateful to have little to no work to do.

On Christopher Columbus Day, my class and I would draw the Niña, Pinta and Santa María boats. I would enjoy celebrating the man who sailed the ocean blue in 1492 to “discover” America. It wasn’t until I was eight-years old and I watched a documentary about his venture did I realize the truth: Columbus was a massacrist who discovered nothing.

Every year, the United States honors a man who took advantage of the Taino population and conducted brutal acts of violence, in which he mutilated, enslaved and killed the native people. In his diary, Columbus described the Tainos as “very well built, with very handsome bodies and very good faces,” thus making them “good servants.”

This is a not a man who should be honored in American culture; as a country with it’s own long, ugly history of slavery and large population of immigrants, we should avoid placing those that have conducted such acts on a pedestal.

Admittedly, the United States has begun to acknowledge celebrating Columbus Day is inappropriate and has moved away from it being a mandatory holiday for nationwide. Although it continues to be viewed as a public holiday accepted by the federal government, it varies by state if it recognized as one.

As of this year, 24 states continue to celebrate Columbus Day while 23 states do not recognize the holiday, which falls on the 2nd Monday of Oct.. In place of that day, New Mexico and Maine honor the lives of those lost from Columbus’s behavior and celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day instead. Along with that, South Dakota celebrates Native American’s Day on said date.

Standing behind New Mexico, Maine and South Dakota’s choice to change the meaning of the holiday is what I would argue is the right one. Rather than praise a man who committed mass genocide or overlook the history taken place, it is respectful to honor those who suffered and teach further generations of the truth behind the history.

Even on an international level, America’s Christopher Columbus Day is viewed differently; in Argentina it is known as Day of Respect of Cultural Diversity and Venezuela calls it Indigenous Resistance Day. Theses alternative titles redirect the focus to those that really mattered.

It would be a lie to say that nothing came from his journey-without Columbus, there would be no Old World to New World connection-but his few acts of kindness do not over shine the mass brutality he spread throughout the Americas. Celebrating Columbus Day will only give attention to an individual who is corrupted and foul.