Kyra Garabedian, Anchor Staff
As we return to our Monday classes this week, we can’t help but admit how nice it was to start last week with a holiday. The Fall semester contains a couple of Monday holidays observed by Rhode Island College (RIC) that are widely accepted as federal holidays such as Labor Day and Veterans Day. However, last week we observed Columbus Day, a holiday not widely accepted by everyone in the United States.
To many Americans, Columbus Day is just another day off. We know who Columbus is and were probably taught the rhyme about him sailing the ocean in 1492, discovering America. What most of us don’t know are the true atrocities committed by Columbus and how much this can upset some Americans today.
According to the Providence Journal, protests against Columbus Day have been occurring since 1992. Many citizens of the United States who identify as Native American believe it’s wrong to celebrate Christopher Columbus for destroying the lives of their ancestors. Many Native American advocates now refer to Columbus Day as Indegionous People’s Day to take the emphasis off Columbus and commemorate Native Americans who lost their lives.
The Christopher Columbus statue in Providence, located at the corner of Elmwood and Reservoir was vandalized to make a statement of the upset in celebrating this Federal Holiday. The statue was coated in red paint from head to toe, appearing to look like blood. It was also accompanied by a plaque stating “Stop celebrating genocide.” This act has drawn attention to the debate over whether Columbus day should be celebrated in the United States. It has certainly prompted me to reflect on my own opinions about the holiday, as I likely wouldn’t have without the news of this visual protest.
The United States 2018 Census reports that one percent of Rhode Island’s total population (10,573 people) identify as Native American. In my opinion, not even the smallest percentage of people should feel upset about the celebration of a Federal holiday. The observance of Columbus Day celebrates the voyage of Christopher Columbus to America as he discovered the land for the first time. However, this land was already discovered and occupied by it’s natives. To Native Americans, Columbus Day is a reminder of when their ancestors were either slaughtered or forced to conform to Christianity at the hands of Christopher Columbus.
Not every college in Rhode Island chooses to observe Columbus Day. Perhaps this is in an attempt to respect the opinions of those who find the celebration of this holiday to be repugnant. I’m not saying I believe RIC should not observe Columbus Day; however, I do think the administration should consider the perspectives of all students.