I was well into my 30s before I had learned what Juneteenth was. And it’s not a national holiday.
Christopher Columbus is a part of every grade school curriculum. And that genocidal sociopath gets a whole weekend.
That about sums up America’s legacy and priorities.
While living in New York, I learned that there was a parade on Columbus Day, and that parade was to celebrate Italian-American heritage. Prior to living in New York–at least that I can remember–I had never thought of Christopher Columbus as an Italian hero. I was mortified. There are plenty of Italians and Italian-Americans who have contributed to civilization and society who weren’t genocidal maniacs. In case you’re new to this discussion about how Christopher Columbus is awful and Columbus Day makes no sense, I’ll let my best friend John Oliver catch you up. This clip was aired a year ago but is just as relevant and to the point.
At about the 2:00 mark, Oliver suggests alternate days to celebrate Italian heritage starting with Frank Sinatra Day. This got me thinking. Why don’t we celebrate our heritage on any other days? Italians (the ones in Italy) don’t even celebrate Columbus Day!
To help get the conversation started, I’ve pulled together a list of people, moments, and days worth celebrating. (more…)