November 17, 2020

Who was Christopher Columbus? The general public is used to only hearing a tale that goes something like, “Christopher Columbus with discovering “the New World” – the Americas – in the 15th century…” as written by Charlie Duffield from i News.


But breaking news…we are being lied to! Travis Swartz, a Lincoln Park history teacher, goes into detail via email of the facts we are missing in this historical equation. “One [matter he wishes people knew the truth about] is that [Christopher Columbus] did not discover that the Earth was round. Most educated people in Europe already knew that, the only question was over what the circumference of the earth was (how big is it?)…I should also include that he actually never stepped foot in what is now the United States. He landed in the Caribbean and bounced around the Caribbean and South America on his voyages.”


Not only did Columbus stay in these island areas he invalided. Click 2 quoted, “… Columbus kept a diary throughout his travels through the New World, where, upon discovering Indigenous People in the areas he visited, he called them “obstacles…also [he] participated in international slave trade in 1496, transporting more than 400 slaves from Africa…also [he] enacted policies of forced labor in which Indigenous people were forced to work for the profit of European colonizers…Columbus and his European settlers are also blamed for devastating outbreaks of disease among the Indigenous people, leading to the wiping out of massive chunks of the native population.” also mentioned, “Within 60 years after Columbus landed, only a few hundred of what may have been 250,000 Taino were left on their island.”


If only we all knew. Most students have only heard the romanticized version of Columbus’ journeys.  And part of this problem starts with realizing even within our history books, there is ingrained white bias. That captures a segment of these figures, but ignores the minority point of view, like the events of European settlers would not effect them.


Furthermore, we need more teachers like Mr. Swartz who will not shy away from negative facts. Mr. Swartz writes, “The list could go on and on of things that I wish people knew about Columbus. Anyone who has had my World History class could (hopefully) rattle off a short list.”


This is an example of someone who takes the time to influence his class with the truth even if it is not the most popular to listen to.


With that being said, when learners have accurate information given, they can then understand why certain actions are being taken especially with civil unrest.


Duffield’s article stated, “Last month a three-metre tall ([ten]ft) bronze statue of Columbus was torn down, set alight and thrown into a lake in Saint Paul, Richmond, Minnesota.”


So knowing what you know now about Christopher Columbus’ dark past makes justifiable sense why citizens are outraged that a man like him is commemorated in this way.


Others would like the national holiday replaced with Indigenous Peoples day. What many of us seek is change, so what we must do is question a side of a story that is not being provided because that one question could spark a movement worth while!

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About the Writer
Jade Davis is a current senior writing and publishing major who works as the Senior editor-videographer-podcast creator-photojournalist position for the SIREN newspaper.

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