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American Indian Movement of Colorado

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Sunday, September 12, 2004

Progressive Italians

This letter to the editor appeared in the Boulder Weekly. It dispels the notion that Italian-Americans uniformly support the Celebration of the man responsible for the Genocide of the Indigenous Peoples of Hispanola.

Real heritage

This letter is in response to the permit that has been issued for yet another Columbus Day Parade. Be it known that not everyone who opposes such a "march," as it has now become, are Native Americans. We, who are of Italian descent, speak for many others who would not put their names to paper for fear of retribution from relatives and friends who belong to the Sons of Italy, the major organizers. But they join us in spirit in our goal to celebrate our heritage in a way that honors us.

Statement in support of a respectful celebration of Italian heritage:

We, as progressive Italians, support a holiday to celebrate our Italian-American culture and heritage and to honor the vast contributions of people of Italian descent to both America and the world at large.

However, we absolutely condemn the celebration of Columbus as an Italian cultural icon. Columbus’ exploitation, enslavement and mass murder in the Caribbean far outweigh any of his nautical achievements. As an agent of Spain, Columbus was just the first in a line of conquistadors who began systematic enslavement of the indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere. He is not widely celebrated in Italy, Spain or in any of the nations in the current area of his colonies.

The celebration of Columbus in the United States is based upon an outdated notion of "discovery" that completely ignores the history of brutal colonization endured by native people, as well as archaeological evidence that the people who lived in this hemisphere for many centuries prior to his arrival had advanced democratic societies.

As progressive Italians we feel it is important that we speak out against racism and oppression. No other celebration of cultural heritage in this country is as divisive as the celebration of Columbus Day. We believe we should honor people who truly deserve to be recognized for their achievements like Italian-Americans Fiorello La Guardia, Anne Bancroft, Salvador Luria and Henry Mancini, as well as Italian renaissance artists, philosophers and inventors such as Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Galileo and Machiavelli.

Any celebration of Italian culture and heritage should be a day to bring people together, not split them apart. We feel that any well-deserved celebration of Italian heritage should be a respectful celebration of which all cultures can be proud.

Debbie Tate/Thornton

You can read the original article Here

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