In Fourteen Hundred and Ninety Two
Columbus sailed the ocean blue
He took three ships with him, too
And called aboard his faithful crew
Mighty, strong, and brave was he
As he sailed across the open sea
Some people still thought the world was flat!
Can you even imagine that?
2) and… who cares about if people want to celebrate Columbus Day?
1) what in the L?!
I know, right? I mean. I loved my elementary school teachers. We sang Columbus songs, we drew the ships on the black board, I colored a picture of Columbus, and we even talked about if we were ‘explorers’ what we would explore! It’s all grand and in good fun! Why wouldn’t you want to celebrate the guy who found this country and established it?
The reason is this- Columbus didn’t stumble upon an empty land and he wasn’t searching for salt. He was trying to find new routes for trade, got lost, and landed in what is now known as the Bahamas – this land was already fully inhabited by Native people that had already been here even 14,000 years before Columbus was even a spec in his fathers eye.
A simple digging into the diaries of Columbus gives insight into the thinking of this man. Seeing and noting the peaceful and helpful ways of the Native people, he decided it would be best to enslave them, displace them, allow his fellow shipmen to rape and sell the women, and took the land over in the name of Spain (where some sources even say that he was not in good standing with King Ferdinand or Isabella).
As is the history of the brute Cortez, stories came to be written about Native people killed for sport and of Columbus refusing to baptize Natives in order to not be put on trail for the killing of fellow Christians- as was a law.
My first encounter with the truth of Columbus, came from Bartolome de las Casas; A man who came with one of Columbus’s explorations and became so mortified by the killing and destruction, that he eventually became a priest and wrote many accounts of what he had witnessed under Columbus’ rule.
Here are a few ‘quotes’ from his writings on the atrocities of Columbus/ Christians and their encounters with the Native Lucayans, Taínos and Arawaks:
- They laid bets as to who, with one stroke of the sword, could split a man in two or could cut off his head or spill out his entrails with a single stroke of the pike.
- They took infants from their mothers’ breasts, snatching them by the legs and pitching them headfirst against the crags or snatched them by the arms and threw them into the rivers, roaring with laughter and saying as the babies fell into the water, “Boil there, you offspring of the devil!
- They attacked the towns and spared neither the children nor the aged nor pregnant women nor women in childbed, not only stabbing them and dismembering them but cutting them to pieces as if dealing with sheep in the slaughter houses.
- With still others, all those they wanted to capture alive, they cut off their hands and hung them round the victim’s neck, saying, “Go now, carry the message,” meaning, Take the news to the Indians who have fled to the mountains.
- They made a grid of rods which they placed on forked sticks, then lashed the victims to the grid and lighted a smoldering fire underneath, so that little by little, as those captives screamed in despair and torment, their souls would leave them.
Some 500 years later, due to the moves of the Knights of Columbus/ Catholics, Columbus is taught in public schools to be a brave explorer to be remembered and revered for finding this new free land- never telling of the mass genocide & (almost) total obliteration of Native people of the Bahamas and beyond. Upon learning all of this when I was already in college, shook me to my core.
2) and… who cares if people want to celebrate Columbus day?
…Well, if that wasn’t enough to help you understand, its the equivalent of Jews celebrating Hitler or Black people of this continent being okay with their kids coming home with smiling slave master activity pages. For me, as a woman of Mexican descent, it hits close to home as one side of my gene pool were these Native people. We are the descendants of the Original inhabitants of these lands- and by rape, my other side is that of the pale, hairy Spaniards.
It means so much today as we continue to see the half-truths of school history books that are supposed to tell the truth, and for so many of our youth is THE TRUTH because it’s there in black and white in the textbook. The deceit is in the activity book making my young self happily run into my house to give my Mexico-born mother a sloppily colored pic of 3 ships that brought death to this continent. It comes at a time when people of color all over the world are learning and wanting to know about their true origins and looking beyond the stories told by the victors, colonizers, brutalizers, and murderers.
We should all care because we should want to honor our ancestors that woke up to or lived through
this truth. So that we won’t repeat or leave this world to those that would one day put Hitler or the likes of him on a coloring page and tell our children that they should mind to not color outside the lines. Ya basta! We should care about our youth learning the truth and not praising colonizers & maniacs.
And no, parents, you don’t have to tell your 4 year old that may come home with Columbus activities about genocide, but you could take the moment to let them know that there were people already here when Columbus arrived. That they were good, generous people- that even Columbus said had no crimes or jails. That they were people of honor and with a sharing spirit- and if you are Brown- you can even tell your bright eyed babes that they are descendants of these beautiful people who survived over 500 years after Columbus sailed the ocean blue…
HAPPY INDIGENOUS DAY!!!
~ con todo mi amor ~
In Case You Missed It:
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– Pentagon to make payments to Kunduz air strike families – & next time, this can be avoided by not dropping drone bombs… thanks!
…and check All Real Radio to know about my day/passion job!
Deniz ‘dee!colonize‘ Lopez is Xicana artist & activist who has held position or collaborated with such organizations as MECHA, The Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement, The Word Around Town Poetry Tour, Creative Women Unite, and Voices Breaking Boundaries to bring a message of revolution, self-sustainability, & community consciousness to the forefront. The themes of her artistry include the abolition of the death penalty, an end to police brutality, empowerment of women, immigration rights, black/brown unity, and self mastery.
Deniz has begun to use her extensive knowledge of community organization, administration, communication, and mentoring to become a creative consultant to many organizations and artists to help them refine their arts.
At present, she is a founding member & Director of Operations for All Real Radio LLC, where the mission is to make the world better by creating a portal to great music and relevant social commentary, and by facilitating a space for community events & awareness.