Columbus Day is one of the most controversial events in history. If you look at this image, you can see why. One day, “Columbus landed in what is now the Bahamas, and informed the the Arawak/Taíno people that from that day on, they and their land became property of the Spanish Crown.”
The Spaniards overworked the Taino people in the gold mines and cotton fields, and by 1531 the number of the Tahino people had gone down from an estimate of 300,000 to 600.
The story of the Taino people is pretty much the same that would be repeated all over Latin America for over 300 years of Spanish Rule.
Why do we celebrate Columbus Day?
It is hard to celebrate Columbus Day, and not blame Columbus for what happened to all the native-American people afterwards.
Did you know?
The first Columbus Day celebration was in 1792, in New York, sponsored by the Columbian Order—better known as Tammany Hall—to commemorate the historic landing’s 300th anniversary. Taking pride in Columbus’ birthplace and faith, Italian and Catholic communities in various parts of the country began organizing annual religious ceremonies and parades in his honor.
In 1937 President Roosevelt pressured by The Knights of Columbus*, declared Columbus Day an official holiday placing Christopher Columbus, a Catholic Italian into American history.
*The Knights of Columbus was founded by an Irish Father Michael J. McGivney on Feb. 6, 1882 with a mission of charity.
What would you call it?
After Columbus landed in the Bahamas, and Cortez conquered Mexico, there were 200 years of the “Columbian Exchange” through the Spanish Treasure Fleet, connected Asia, America, Europe, and Africa. Mestizos are not only descendants of a Spaniard and a Native American.
Mestizos are descendants of people from all over the world, like me.
It is easy to understand the movement to pretend this event never happened, or to recognize the victims of this oppression, but removing it all together, or dedicating it only to one ethnic group would be the same as removing mestizos like me.
I rather keep it as “El Dia de la Raza”, [The Day of the Race] as it has been celebrated in Latin America since 1917, because it celebrates the mix of ethnicity. It means honoring everybody, including me! How would you call it?
Books about Christopher Columbus