Italian Americans Say Dump Columbus
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We are people of Italian-American descent who support the efforts in San Francisco to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples' Day. We urge all members of the Board Of Supervisors to support the legislation making this change when it comes to a vote later this month. Organizations such as the Order of the Sons of Italy do not speak for us.
Our community has many heroes and sheroes in our history to be proud of. Locally, we remember Joe DiMaggio, and love the poetry of Diane Diprima. Labor leaders such as Angela Bambace showed us the power of working-class solidarity. Ralph Fasenella left the United States to fight against fascism in Spain. If the boosters of Christopher Columbus Day were serious about honoring our history, they would begin with these stories. According to Columbus' his own diary was a slave trader:
They ... brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things, which they exchanged for the glass beads and hawks' bells. They willingly traded everything they owned... . They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features.... They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane... . They would make fine servants.... With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.
When we forget this true legacy of Columbus, it also numbs us to today's assaults on our immigrant brothers and sisters, and gives us rationalizations to ignore contemporary land-grabs, brutality and inequality. Dumping Columbus is a small step towards building a world based in solidarity, stepping outside the shadow of colonialism.
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