Rename Columbus Day & Remove Monuments of Christopher Columbus from NYC!

NYC Mayor Bill DiBlasio, NY Governor Andrew Cuomo

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As New Yorkers of Italian descent and supporters, we have come together to add our voices to the growing chorus of people condemning the recognition and celebration of Christopher Columbus in both name and likeness. We refuse to allow a man responsible for genocide and the establishment of the trans-Atlantic slave trade to continue to be celebrated in the name of pride for our community.

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To: NYC Mayor Bill DiBlasio, NY Governor Andrew Cuomo
From: [Your Name]

As New Yorkers of Italian descent and supporters, we have come together to add our voices to the growing chorus of people condemning the recognition and celebration of Christopher Columbus in both name and likeness. We refuse to allow a man who bears responsibility for genocide and the establishment of the trans-Atlantic slave trade to continue being celebrated in the name of pride for our community.

We are calling for the removal of all Columbus monuments from the City of New York, and - following cities like Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., and a dozen states that have already led the way - the renaming of Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day.

In response to mounting public pressure and the very real possibility of protesters tearing down Columbus monuments themselves, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, an Italian-American, gave a public statement regarding the most prominent statue at Columbus Circle in Manhattan: "I understand the feelings about Christopher Columbus and some of his acts, which nobody would support. But the statue has come to represent and signify appreciation for the Italian American contribution to New York. For that reason, I support it."

Columbus is neither an appropriate nor accurate symbol of the Italian experience in New York City, nor does he represent Italian culture and values. Our families came to this land largely as working class immigrants fleeing war and poverty, and had to survive horrific exploitation as immigrant workers, as well as routine and violent racial discrimination. Columbus came to this continent to conquer – he enslaved thousands of people and set the stage for the genocidal colonization of the Americas. As a symbol of the Italian-American immigrant experience, he could not be further from the truth.

Indeed, Columbus Day was made a holiday to appease the outrage in the Italian-American community after the racist mob lynching of 11 Italian immigrants in New Orleans in 1892. It was an attempt to write Italians into the founding myth of the United States – to convince us to identify more with whiteness than with their own experiences as racialized, working-class immigrants.

Our community has been able to gain a foothold in this country precisely by buying into the white supremacist colonial project that began with Columbus and continues to this day. We will no longer remain silent. We want to begin to repair the harm that has been done in our name, often by members of our community, by publicly renouncing our collusion with white supremacy and empire. Instead, we express solidarity with Indigenous and Black communities in calling for the removal of the five Columbus statues in NYC, and for the renaming of Columbus Day as Indigenous People’s Day.

The legacy we draw from is one of collective struggle and solidarity. This is what we must identify with and uphold – not the man who represents the deeply violent, racist, and genocidal conquest of the Americas.