Bye Columbus Day

Chicago Public Schools finally replaces Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day

My maternal grandfather Dominick Colella came over from Italy when he was 12 years old. At that time our country体彩官方app was far more welcoming to immigrants and his family was allowed to come here for a better life. I always looked up to my grandfather. He was a story teller, a hard worker, and someone who cared about people. I looked up to him so much that I named my first born child after him.

It’s important to find honorable people that inspire us and that we can look up to. As someone with Italian ancestry let me just reiterate what many have been saying for generations…Christopher Columbus is not it.

Growing up I always heard the tired regurgitated lines of “…in 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue and discovered America…”. It wasn’t until college that I learned that when Columbus came to America he , enslaved, murdered, and  indigenous Arawak people. Columbus never deserved a holiday. The recent step by Chicago Public Schools to  with Indigenous Peoples Day is one Native Americans and other activists have been fighting for for years.

There are many other, appropriate,  if Italian Americans felt that they needed someone to look up to.

Chicago Alderman Nicholas Sposato (38th Ward) and Alderman Anthony Napolitano (41st Ward) are  to replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day. But let’s be clear, Alderman Sposato and Alderman Napolitano don’t really care about celebrating Columbus or not, they are threatened by the idea of anyone trying to challenge their problematic white history. They are fragile white people, both of them are textbook examples of white fragility. For these Alderman who are clearly unaware of what  is, “it is a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves”. For example, Alderman Sposato saying he will bring an “” to the next Board of Education meeting and the fact that he even tries to compare .

As a white person, as someone who has half Italian ethnicity, I’m embarrassed by their actions and their resistance to replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day.

Teaching true history is necessary in our society. There are age appropriate ways to teach the truth about Columbus to children. Last year  exist already to teach children of all ages what Columbus actually did. Many  have stopped celebrating the holiday.

In time, nearly all people will realize that honoring a raping murder is not a good idea. It’s time that white people, especially Italian American white people, speak up. The name Columbus, should be said with the same disgust as the name Hitler, Mussolini, and every other person who has committed atrocities in history. The Columbus “holiday” needs to be erased from the fabric of our country体彩官方app.

It is now time for all of Chicago to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day.

It is beyond time to honor the people who were here first.

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Photo courtesy of New Mexico Political Journal

High Schoolers Researching and Teaching True Columbus to 1st Graders

One of the reasons that I decided to become a history teacher is because when I got to college I became so upset at the many things the history classes I took before that point didn’t teach me. One of the events that upset me the most was when I learned the true history of Christopher Columbus. My earlier schooling just kept my knowledge at “Columbus was a brave explorer who sailed the ocean blue in 1492 and discovered America”. It wasn’t until college that I realized he and his men , , , and  the Arawak people that they met. The fact that we have only 6 federal holidays in our country体彩官方app and one of them is dedicated to this piece of trash, is beyond infuriating.

Last year my oldest son, who was in kindergartner at the time, brought 体彩官方app a book that was donated to the school about Columbus. I immediately read it and realized that this book was filth, because it made him out to be a hero. Here is how I handled that book with my son:

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I thought about this incident over the summer; how little kids were still not learning the true history of Columbus. I decided this year to have one of my high school classes start a momentum to change this. As part of their culminating project on the legacy of colonization, they were to create a historically accurate, 1st grade appropriate children’s book of their own about Christopher Columbus. To take it one step further, I then partnered with some amazing teachers at a neighborhood elementary school to have my students read their books to the 1st grade students.

Before my students could begin to write their books, they had to research whether educated people believed the world was flat or round, if Columbus was the first non-indigenous person in this part of the world, learn about the encounter with the Arawak people, and then finally decide how Columbus should be remembered and if we should celebrate Columbus Day. All of these things were required to be in their book.

Here is the actual assignment:

Columbus Children's Book Assignment

Columbus Children’s Book Assignment

Since you don’t have the books my students researched and then made in front of you, here are some spoilers: Educated people believed the world to be round, the Vikings came to North America 500 years  AND Phoenicians from the African civilization of Carthage most likely came to North America 1500 years .

My students described Columbus’ encounter with the Arawak using 1st grade appropriate cruelty as, “Columbus enslaved all the Arawak’s and didn’t treat them as equals”, “Columbus took advantage of the Arawak’s because they were giving off good vibes, he hurt and damaged the Arawak tribe”, “He mistreated many women and children and forced them to do things they didn’t want to do”, “Because of the treatment of Columbus and his men the Arawak’s started dying rapidly because of the lack of the food, being abused or worse”.

While I would love to include the beautiful pictures of my 11th and 12th grade students reading to 1st graders I must respect the privacy of all the students involved. After the visit, my son, who was in one of the classes that my students came to, said to me, “Dad, I don’t get how people could be mean to other people just because of skin color. It is just skin.”  My response, “I know buddy, the messed-up thing is cruelty because of skin color and greed has been around since our country体彩官方app first started and it is still going on today.” My 1st grade son’s reply…a deep frustrated sigh.

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