It is next to impossible to find someone who is from the United States of America and does not know who Christopher Columbus is. Starting in elementary school, children are taught about the man who “found” America. Personally, I find it all to be quite disturbing that this type of brainwashing is occurring. Not only is this information inaccurate, there are a ton of facts that students are not taught about Columbus and why he is such a terrible person.
October 12 of every year in the United States of America is Christopher Columbus Day. Most schools across the country have this “holiday” off (to celebrate?). The basic information that people know about him is quite limited. Students are taught that after many failed attempts in finding a new trade route to India, Christopher Columbus sets out on a voyage west funded by Spain. Landing in what he assumes is India; Columbus actually ends up being in the Americas (present day Cuba).
The first major problem with Christopher Columbus Day is that Columbus actually was not the first person to find America. There were already Natives who lived in America and had empires developed, so it literally makes no sense that we give him the credit of finding it. By ignoring the fact that thousands of Natives had lived here before Columbus is not only uneducated but also dismissive to the history of so many people. Also Columbus did not land on United States Territory. He actually landed in present day Cuba and he explored the islands surrounding it. Having Columbus Day be an actual holiday that we as Americans celebrate makes no sense since Columbus had nothing to do with the United States of America.
The second major issue I have with Christopher Columbus is the fact that he wrote in his journal that the Natives would make good slaves. This is an actual what the heck moment. As Columbus and his crew were nearing land, their ships started to sink. The Natives helped them save the cargo and get the crew members to shore safely. And what is Columbus’s first thought about that situation? I’ll give you a hint; it’s not that he is extremely thankful that these people basically saved his exploration. Nope, it’s that these human beings would make good slaves. And we have a holiday for this guy.
The third major issue is that Columbus thought he landed in India, thus causing him to call the Natives “Indians”. This honestly would not be that big of a problem if people did not still call Native Americans “Indians” interchangeably. Native Americans and Indians are not the same ethnicity and they are totally different cultures. Calling them the same thing is disrespectful and uneducated.
Also Christopher Columbus and his crewmen murdered and raped the Natives. The native children were forced into sex slavery. Columbus used the Native people for his benefit. All he wanted from them was their gold and their materials. He did not care about the lives he took and ruined. Doesn’t this make you rethink why we as a country have this federal holiday?
You would think that with all of the awful act Columbus committed, it would end with him getting the ending he deserved:karma for his actions. Actually, when Columbus returned to Spain he did end up getting thrown in jail for his crimes! But, sadly, the king liked Columbus so much he got him out of jail and paid for a fourth voyage. So, Columbus never actually got what he deserved.
For all of the future Christopher Columbus Days that you may have off, I hope you can take a moment of your day and reflect on the thousands of lives that were lost due to this man.
My video on this topic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crB3nO9v2oE
Zoe Levine is 17 years old from Erie, Pennsylvania. She is currently a student in 11th grade at McDowell High School. Her main passions are intersectional feminism, writing, music, watching TV and movies, reading, and journalism. She is president of her synagogue’s youth group and president of a local volunteer organization. She is involved with her school’s performing arts program, Speech & Debate, Mock Trial, Model UN, Exposure (tolerance activity), and Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science. Outside of school she has a job at a local farmer’s market and travels for Reform Jewish conferences. You can follow her multiple social media platforms including YouTube: sunflowerzoe15, Instagram: @xzoelevine, and Twitter: @xzoelevine