Beheaded Boston Christopher Columbus Statue
As almost everyone is aware from recent and past events during the last year and this present year of 2021, the Black Lives Matter movement has swept all across the nation. It started off in just Minneapolis, Minnesota, and before we knew it, the movement had spread all over the to different states and countries within just a few weeks. However, as much as the movement has done its job at creating a continuing change in the world, there have been a few events that had taken place based off of getting justice and standing up for what is right.
In the artifact that is above, I chose a picture of a statue of Christopher Columbus. However, you would not know it was him because his stone head was broken off by civilians throughout the community of Boston, MA. This action did not happen in just one state: “protesters in Massachusetts, Minnesota and Virginia have targeted statues of Christopher Columbus, damaging or pulling down three in a matter of days” (Machemer). This specific incident took place in the “North End’s waterfront around 12:30 a.m. on Wednesday” (Dwyer).
Some people may ask: why was the statue of Christopher Columbus taken down? Well, my answer to that is because, to several people out there in the world, Christopher Columbus is considered a “representative of slavery or colonial oppression” (Dwyer), causing people to want to tear down the statues. With the Black Lives Matter movement going on, the toppling of these statues was seen as a move to make a change in the world to lead in the correction of a figure who was taught to generations that he was good for our country. People wanted to prove a point that Christopher Columbus actually was not. In the United States school system, it is taught to children that Columbus discovered America, however there are some facts that were left out of the lesson that people now want to bring attention to. Charlie Duffield stated that “the Italian explorer is responsible for the genocide and exploitation of native peoples in the Americas," as well as that Christopher Columbus “was a murderer of indigenous people, mainstreaming the genocidal culture against indigenous people." A reaction to this was hatred and disrespect from communities of all kinds, including those who are Indigenous. As a result, from this research and new understanding that Christopher Columbus was racist and more than just a figure of history who “discovered America,” Columbus Day which is typically celebrated on the second Monday of October each year, is now being called by some people “Indigenous Day.” I support this decision in calling it Indigenous Day because why would I want to celebrate someone who was cruel and racist?
I specifically chose this picture to use as my artifact simply because I think it brings a good closing to my exhibition theme. I chose Black Lives Matter because it is an important movement to me, and I have learned so much about it, and the reasons behind the movement. My knowledge has grown immensely on this topic. The Black Lives Matter movement has been broadcasted by many around the world, and the situation of the statues being torn down, I think, has been an eye-opening ordeal to many people. I had not known about Columbus and his racist past and what he had done to Indigenous people. I think that bringing attention to who he was and tearing down his head off the statue will help to publicize this new idea of him.
Black Lives Matter includes people of all types of races that support the movement. The whole point of this movement is to bring an awareness and change to how people of color and of other races are treated. The only way things will change is by communities making that change themselves. Being silent is not an option when it comes to broadcasting a movement. By tearing off Christopher Columbus’s head, people will want to know why and learn what he did. Standing up to racist people is a big part of the movement, so if that means making a change to previous history landmarks that are honoring racism, then so be it.
As mentioned before, I do not care to support a holiday that honors someone who was racist. This opinion, I am sure, can cause a lot of backlash from the public, especially from older white generations. This is a topic I want to touch on because I think bringing attention to it can teach a lot of people who do not have the knowledge that others do. As someone who is white, I did not know anything about Columbus, other than that he had “discovered America.” Why would I know anything else about him, especially if that is all we were taught about as kids in school? Someone who is Indigenous though may know more about it because Columbus targeted their race and culture. The main point I am trying to make is that I have noticed that people do not pay attention or care about an issue until it really affects them or someone they love.
Although I grew up where there was a decent amount of diversity, I had not been close to anyone who went through discrimination or racism, so to me as a younger kid it was as if it did not exist. After growing up and meeting new people and befriending people of all races and living through 2020 with the protests and Black Lives Matter movement, I have been made more aware of it. I think that school systems should start teaching more about racism and discrimination when it comes to the past because what is happening in the present day right now is just as important as what happened in the past and was caused by it. By not teaching new generations about racism and racist figures, it goes against support of Black Lives Matter. The whole movement is trying to bring attention to the subject of police brutality, discrimination, and racism against people of the African-American race, and I think that by teaching all kids about it, no matter what their race is, then they will grow up to know what is right and what is wrong. This goes especially when it comes to racism and discrimination. Kids will be able to point it out and hopefully stand up to wrongful acts.
Duffield, Charlie. “Here's Why Statues of Christopher Columbus Are Being Pulled Down.” Inews, 12 July 2020, https://inews.co.uk/news/christopher-columbus-racist-statues-pulled-down-us-prorests-explorer-443647.
Dwyer, Dialynn. “Head Removed from Christopher Columbus Statue in Boston.” Boston.com, 10 June 2020, https://www.boston.com/news/local-news/2020/06/10/christopher-columbus-statue-beheaded-boston.
Machemer, Theresa. “Christopher Columbus Statues Beheaded, Pulled Down Across America.” Smithsonian Magazine, 12 June 2020, https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/christopher-columbus-statues-beheaded-torn-down-180975079/.