Removal of the Columbus statue in Newport

Removal of the Columbus statue in Newport

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Sarah Berkman
Sarah Berkman signed this petition

Growing up we were taught that Christopher Columbus was a brave adventurer who discovered a new land for us all. As an Italian American, he was a way for our immigrant ancestors to assimilate into white American culture by claiming a piece of American history. We were faced with many barriers to assimilation, including the stories that we were criminals, lazy, unintelligent, and hypersexual to name a few harmful stereotypes that kept us in a box of “otherness” that many marginalized communities still face today in different ways.

I ask you to consider the realities we were not taught in school about the unimaginably violent atrocities this man wrought on Native peoples. The reality that the land we now call home was stolen. This illustrates the irony in holding on to the symbol of Columbus as someone to honor and immortalize.

Considering this, why in the world would this man be celebrated? Why would we honor him with a parade and a statue? For my Southern Italian American relatives, if knowing about the true history of Christopher Columbus doesn’t convince you that we should do away with the statue and parade, perhaps looking deeper into how this man became a cultural hero for us Italians will?

 

To learn more I implore you to read the article entitled “Columbus Day & Consequences: Re-examining Italian American Commemorations, Historic Anxieties, and (Some of ) the Narratives They Silence” by Kathryn N. Anastasi or the New York Times piece “How Italians Became White”.

Columbus is a deeply offensive symbol of hate, trauma, and injustice, especially for indigenous peoples. It's time to take the statue down and shift Columbus Day and the parade to celebrate and honor the Indigenous people who have suffered for far too long. We Italian Americans can easily find a more accurate and rightful hero.

Please join me in removing the Christopher Columbus statue from Memorial Boulevard in Newport R.I.