You know those people who refuse to celebrate Thanksgiving because its holiday story covers a genocide with construction paper Indian feathers and pretends that indigenous people threw a harvest party for the people who killed them? You know those people who make Thanksgiving not fun? I’m a person who likes to keep the peace at holidays. I’m more of a “think of what you’re thankful for and bash the pilgrims the rest of the year” kind of person.
But today is Columbus Day, and there are no good feelings for this holiday that I can use to sweep genocide under the festive carpet. In Boston, at least, Columbus day is a floating holiday that school kids and government employees take off, but most of the people who are really committed to money work through.
Columbus Day. I have no personal beef against Columbus, since I didn’t personally know him. And if it hadn’t been him, we’d probably be celebrating some other conquistador who stuck their flag in this continent instead. More like, I don’t want to celebrate the greed and disease and inhumanity that followed Columbus’ arrival. Why not make Cesar Chavez Day national? Why not a day to celebrate Chinese railroad workers or to appreciate the people who pick up the trash or the people who pick the fruit or a day to pay respect to the indigenous peoples who were here before us?
Yesterday someone I was talking to said “… you know, the way that Native American names have meanings. I like that.” And I didn’t say it because I was trying to be polite and non-argumentative, but you know in my head I was thinking “Really? Which Native Americans? Native to North America? A specific tribe? Someone you personally know? Or are you getting this from Pocahontas?”
Happy Indigenous Peoples’ Day.