Top 5 Reasons NOT to Celebrate Columbus Day And 1 Reason To
History comes with an agenda. Growing up, I wasn’t exposed to this truth. But as I grew older, it became clear that history is murky. It also became clear that there are many reasons not to celebrate Columbus Day. And maybe only one reason to celebrate.
Columbus and St. Croix
Growing up in St. Croix, I had a fairly typical U.S. education with fairly typical U.S. textbooks as far as I can remember. Like most Americans, I learned “in 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” Ingrained in my mind are the names of his ships: The Nina, The Pinta and the Santa Maria.
Of course, I learned that everyone expected him to sail off the edge of a flat earth into space or sea monsters or something. And most of all, I was taught of his discovering America.
One of the (many) perks of growing up on an island in the Caribbean was that we could actually take a field trip to Columbus Landing – a spot fairly close to my school where Columbus and his crew set foot in 1493 among islands he called Las Islas Virgenes, after St. Ursula and her eleven thousand virgins.
Ships falling off flat earth
5 reasons not to celebrate Columbus Day
Now, I got nothing against thousands of virgins or a good story. But as I got older and began learning more about the history of the Caribbean, the glossy veneer of ol’ Chris didn’t hold up.
First of all, Christopher Columbus isn’t even his name. It’s Cristoforo Colombo. Christopher Columbus is just one of those English adaptations someone felt was preferable to pronouncing a foreign sounding name.
The next obvious question is: well, if that’s not his name, what were the names of his famous ships? Well, the Pinta was indeed, the Pinta. However, his other two ships on his first voyage were the Santa Clara and the Gallega. (He had plenty of different ships on subsequent voyages.)
Ahh, well, semantics. It was still his idea to sail west, rather than east to hit the East Indies, right?
Wrong, it was his younger brother Bartholomew’s. And most believe the idea came from their family’s time in Iceland.
There, the brothers should have been exposed to the adventures of another explorer: Leif Erickson. Sure, Chris had been sailing since age 14. And he was a talented astronomer and navigator. However, it was his brother, the cartographer’s idea to sail West.
To realize this dream, they split up. Chris went to Spain and Bart to France. Both in an effort to secure funding for their expedition.
The plan was to join up once they’d gotten the backing they needed. Then they would sail away together to claim their riches.
Except, once Chris had succeeded in Spain, he didn’t wait for his brother. And Bart was left behind on the cutting room floor of history. (He did follow his big brother to the Caribbean two years later.)
Ahh, well, brothers will be brothers. Chris wasn’t a bad guy… right?
Well, the tough thing about labeling someone as good or bad is the definitions change with the times. For example, a neighbor taking a stick and beating your child as some kind of punishment might have been perfectly fine at one time. In fact, that might have been a good neighbor, whereas today… That neighbor would find themselves in jail.
I believe that’s the tact to take when looking at Chris. Sure, he was addicted to opium, but a lot of people were at the time. And, sure he was directly responsible for the enslavement, torture, mutilation, and murder of tens of thousands of Native American people in the Caribbean islands during his quest for riches.
And he’s credited for marking the establishment of institutionalized slavery in the West Indies. Which, of course, led to a demand for more slaves. And eventually hundreds of years of African slave trade… but… uhm…
OK, fine, he was a monster. (You may want to add this into the equation.)
Fine, fine… But he did discover America… right?
First, let’s just put aside the paradox of “discovering” a land that already had a population of indigenous people. Even if we ignore that, this one still depends on your definition of America.
On his 1492 voyage, Chris landed on a number of islands including some in the Bahamas very close to mainland Florida. But as far as I know, no U.S. landfall.
On his second voyage, he landed at Hispaniola, Cuba, and Jamaica among others. All islands I would love to visit on a single trip. But, again, no mainland United States.
On his third, he named Trinidad and landed in present-day Venezuela.
hen, on his fourth, final voyage, he landed at present-day Panama. So, yes, in 1498 and 1502, he did reach the continental Americas. That is, South and Central America to be exact. But by then he was hardly the first European.
And that’s even if you discount the fact that native peoples lived in these places all along.
So, no, Columbus did not discover the “New World.”
Any reasons to celebrate Columbus Day?
So yeah, Christopher Columbus, upon closer inspection, is a terrible fellow to honor. Thankfully, Columbus Day has morphed into Indigenous Peoples Day. And I’m not one to turn down a national holiday for a day off work!
So, enjoy the day off and celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day. And if you can, take some time to learn more about all the diversity that makes the Caribbean great.
Or maybe even plan to “discover” your own new-to-you islands!
Last updated by Patrick Bennett on 10/02/2021 .
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9 Columbused foods to problematically eat on Columbus Day
Columbus Day is a highly-criticized holiday on the U.S. calendar. It honors Christopher Columbus, an Italian sailor who did some pretty horrible things to people in America who had been settled on the land long before the Santa Maria made it to shore.
To add insult to injury, Columbus exhibited some bad behavior while claiming to have “discovered” the Americas, a country that happened to be around for years before the dude decided jumped on a boat. And so, Columbus is often described as someone who exploited rather than explored and discovered.
Over time, Columbus’ actions and what he represents gave birth to the term “Columbusing,” which according to NPR, is acting like you “discovered” something that has actually existed for years. “[. ] it’s existed outside your own culture, nationality, race or even, say, your neighborhood. Bonus points if you tell all your friends about it,” NPR said.
This act of Columbusing is different from cultural appropriation, which the Oxford Dictionary defines as the “action of taking something for one’s own use.” While this is often without permission, there usually isn’t an element of “discovery.”
While people rarely go out and pretend to have discovered an entire nation these days, modern day Columbusing often occurs around food. Many, namely white Americans, have acted as if they are the first person to stumble upon a dish or recipe, when in truth, the food has been celebrated by a different culture for thousands of years.
Hungry for some examples on this special day? Below, nine Columbused foods to eat on Columbus Day:
This chickpea dip and spread has graced the tables of a number of Middle Eastern cultures since pretty much the beginning of time, but that hasn’t stopped people from touting it as the next great health food with no acknowledgement of its origins.
The grain-like seed has long been a diet staple of those who live in the Andean regions of countries like Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador. And yet, once health fanatics “discovered” quinoa and its benefits, Andean residents were no longer able to afford one of their most go-to foods, the New York Times noted.
4. Turmeric Milk
You’ll find turmeric milk, or “golden mylk” as all the hip devotees like to call it, in pricey cafes nationwide. The drink was even crowned the Guardian‘s “2016 drink of choice.” But here’s the thing, turmeric milk, or “haldi doodh,” has a long history as a remedy for many ailments in South Asian culture — long before your local juice bar put it on the menu.
5. Chopped Cheese
The “chopped cheese” is a staple of bodegas in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood. It features grilled ground beef, peppers, onions and cheese slices and is a popular and affordable way (it’s usually priced around $4) for people in the neighborhood to feed themselves. The sandwich was recently at the center of a viral Insider video that claimed that most New Yorkers didn’t even know it existed, even though it’s a well known dish in many neighborhoods, Mic previously reported. The sandwich is also now getting the gussied up chef treatment and will be served at a hip new restaurant in New York City for $15 a pop.
Kale, the ultimate leafy green and health food that spurred entire salad bar movements and corresponding tote bags, is not an American invention as many would like to believe. In fact, according to Latina, kale is an essential vegetable in Brazilian cuisine. The magazine also noted that “African-Americans have been eating kale . well, basically forever.”
7. Collard Greens
Speaking of things that African-Americans have been eating forever, let’s talk about collard greens. When Whole Foods tweeted out a photo of collards topped with peanuts and dried cranberries in January, stating that if you aren’t already cooking the greens, you should be, Black Twitter was not happy. Critics said that Whole Foods failed to acknowledge that collards have long been a staple in African-American diets and rarely do people top them with peanuts and dried cranberries, the Atlantic noted.
Bon Appétit found itself in hot water in September when it published a video about pho, the popular Vietnamese rice noodle soup. The video marginalized pho as the “new ramen” and not something that could stand on its own. It also featured a white chef instructing viewers how to eat pho, something many Asian readers took issue with, Mic previously reported.
You can get matcha-flavored anything these days, from croissants to ice cream. The green tea is celebrated in the U.S. for its health benefits, but most fail to acknowledge that matcha has been used for centuries in Japanese tea ceremonies, and isn’t just the latest trendy ingredient, the Wall Street Journal noted.
Most Americans are in favor of celebrating Columbus Day
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A statue of Christopher Columbus in New York City’s Columbus Circle Getty Images
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Americans by a 2-to-1 margin admire Christopher Columbus and think it’s a good idea to have a holiday named after the Italian explorer, a new poll released Tuesday reveals.
The survey conducted by Marist College — in concert with the Knights of Columbus — found that 56 percent of Americans have a favorable view of Columbus while 28 percent had an unfavorable view, with the rest unsure.
Likewise, 57 percent said it’s a good idea to have a holiday named after Columbus while 29 percent said it’s a bad idea and the rest had no opinion.
Columbus is revered for helping discover America. Italian-Americans in particular consider him a symbol of progress and cultural pride.
But Columbus’ critics condemn him for the slaughter and enslavement of native peoples in the Caribbean islands.
The Los Angeles City Council in August voted to eliminate Columbus Day and rename the holiday to honor “indigenous, aboriginal and native people.”
The survey found that support for Columbus is far from universal.
Black respondents, by a 2-to-1 margin, had a negative view of Columbus — 54 percent unfavorable compared with 25 percent favorable, with the rest undecided.
By a margin of 54 to 33 percent, African-Americans also said it was a bad idea to have a holiday named after Columbus.
Latinos, millennials and liberals were also more split on Columbus.
Whites and more moderate to conservative citizens overwhelmingly back Columbus.
Another questions asks: “Do you think Christopher Columbus and other historical figures should be judged by the standards of conduct during the time they lived or by the standards of conduct today?”
Another city does away with Columbus Day
More than 3 of 4 respondents — 76 percent — said they should be judged by the standards of their times, while just 16 percent said by the standards of today, while 8 percent gave no answer.
Columbus Day will be celebrated on Monday, Oct. 9.
Columbus’ legacy has been a source of controversy in New York City. Mayor Bill de Blasio has created a commission to determine whether monuments to historical figures on public grounds are “oppressive and inconsistent with the values of New York City” — and subject to possible removal or alteration.
Italian-American leaders worry that Columbus statutes — including the iconic one in the city’s Columbus Circle — will be taken down, though the mayor insists there are no plans to do so.
The Knights of Columbus, the world’ s largest Catholic fraternal organization, has long honored the Italian seafarer as an important Catholic figure.
“He was a man ahead of his time, who brought two worlds together and began the process that led to the founding of this country. It is a testament to Americans’ commitment to a fair reading of history that the explorer’s popularity has endured despite the unfair and hateful attacks by British propagandists, the Ku Klux Klan and revisionist academics, “ said Knights of Columbus CEO Carl Anderson.
The survey of 1,224 adults was conducted Sept. 11-13, 2017, and has a margin of error of 2.8 percentage points.