Monday, October 10, 2011

Why we don't acknowledge Columbus Day...

I'm feeling argumentative today.  It's been more then 10 years ago, sitting in an Africana Studies class at West Virginia University, and Columbus day came and went with out a pause in class.  Some of my classmates were irritated that we didn't get to laze around in our college apartments.  What I always found to be so interesting about this class was it's quest for truth, and my professors ability to point out our "miseducation."  I loved it.  I thrived in this class.  I took no notes, and had over 100% at the end of the semester because I was pulled in to the truth.  Finally a history class that was inspiring.  That Columbus Day was no different.

Much of what we know about Columbus is true.  He sailed to what he hoped would be Asia hoping to discover a safer trade route.  No one knew there was a continent in the way.  And yes, thanks to him the world was forever changed.  This man was not all good though.  When they landed, they were welcomed with hospitality by the indigenous people here.  He said they were so kind and good, that they must be "en Dios" or "of God" and that they would make fantastic slaves.  Anyone who knows the history of chattel slavery in the US knows that Portugal was the leader in this industry at the start.  It was these people they tried to enslave first, but they knew the area too well and escaped easily.  Lusting for slaves, they imported their own slaves from West Africa.  Bringing foreign people, to a foreign land who had no hopes of escaping because they were unfamiliar territory.

It's hard for me to acknowledge this man for his discovery when his legacy is tainted with an entirely new kind of slavery that lasted for hundreds of years.  It's a dark mark on history, and if this man is to be noted for discovery he made, his mistakes should not be covered up.  How else do we learn to be better people?

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