Columbus sailed the ocean blue
Claimed a land already owned
The indigenous people were sadly $@#%
Okay, it’s not the best poetry and I was having trouble finding a descent word that rhymed with owned that wasn’t profane. Anyway, my indigenous ancestors were the beneficiaries of horrific crimes that stemmed from this man sailing to the New World. For some reason, this so-called holiday is still on the calendar. When I was in the classroom, a fellow co-worker who taught for Teach For America gave a wonderful and dynamic speech to his mostly African American and Hispanic 3rd graders. This particular teacher was a Caucasian male. With dark blue eyes, a chiseled jawline, a soccer player physique, and an easygoing frat boy demeanor, I wouldn’t expect to hear that rhetoric drop like confetti from his lips (yes, I profiled). He was quietly fuming while he told his class the truth about Christopher Columbus. It felt forbidden to teach the truth in the public school classroom because someone could always point an accusing finger at you for trying to bend young minds to a particular idea. But in 1996, it felt good to finally let the truth bleed into the safe description of the glorified Columbus expedition.
So for 79 years the United States has been officially celebrating Columbus Day. America celebrates a man who got lost, called a bunch of native people out of their name, and enslaved/tortured the same native people. Some U.S. states and cities have alternative celebrations for the second Monday in October, but unfortunately, the officially observed holiday is Columbus Day. Why do we bother?