At 2am on October 12th 1492, a sailor aboard the Pinta by the name of Rodrigo de Triana shouted, “Tierra! Tierra!” For his sighting of land, he should have received a yearly pension for the rest of his life. But the Admiral of the three-ship fleet would later tell his benefactors, Ferdinand and Isabella, that he’d seen a light the evening before and claimed the reward for himself. Thus, inauspiciously, began Christopher Columbus’s “discovery” of the New World – the anniversary of which is celebrated annually in America, even though Christopher Columbus never once set foot on the land that would become the United States. What Americans are in truth celebrating is Columbus’s discovery of Guanahani in the Bahamas – and the subsequent rape and plunder of it and the surrounding islands, as well as the enslaving and genocide of its indigenous people.
Christopher Columbus, this so-called hero worthy of a federal holiday, was in fact the first European slave trader of the Americas, responsible for the deaths of millions of “Indians” and the complete eradication of the Arawaks – the friendly natives who excitedly swam out to greet the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria, and willingly shared with the Europeans all that they had. Believing he’d reached Asia and driven by his lust for gold, Columbus soon betrayed his hosts’ kindness: when the Indians were unable to collect the quantities of gold Columbus demanded, their hands were cut off and they bled to death. When it became clear there was no abundance of gold, the islands were raided for slaves; women and girls as young as ten were taken for sex and labour, while the men were either worked to death or sent back to Castile – where most died en route from hitherto unknown European diseases. By 1650, all of the Arawaks would be dead.
Parents: if your children believe that “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue” and “discovered America” – please, tell them the truth.