By Francisco Portillo
The city of Los Angeles took a step in the right direction last Wednesday when City Council voted 14-1 to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day.
This action reflects the removal of Confederate memorabilia in southern states.
For years now, I have contemplated the validity of Columbus Day as a holiday.
Throughout grade school, I was taught about what an amazing historical figure Christopher Columbus was.
It’s difficult not to admire the person who discovered what is now considered to be the greatest nation in the world.
Thought-provoking history teachers however, argued the validity of his role in the founding of America, pointing out the fact that Columbus technically could not discover a land that was already inhabited.
Despite the progression of civil rights in the country, there are still aspects of racism that are sprinkled throughout.
The false moniker of “Indians” that was placed on the first Americans was given by mistake. While trying to find a new trade route, Columbus sailed West to make his way to Asia faster.
Since then, popular culture has further marginalized people indigenous to the country. In almost every major American sport, there are teams that are meant to represent Native Americans, but they do so in offensive ways.
Take the National Football League for example, that the representation of Native Americans is the most derogatory.
The Washington Redskins’ mascot is a stereotypical caricature of a Native American appearing on players’ helmets. In an open letter written by Dan Snyder, the team’s owner, refuses to change the name of his organization.
The reason behind his decision was because too many people now associate the logo with their personal memories of the team. According to Snyder, the team’s name was meant to honor the nations that lost their land to invading Europeans.
The name is failing to be honorable in any way.
It is is extremely offensive considering that it stems from the color of their skin.
A comparison would be if there were a team called the Brownskins along with a racist, stereotypical drawing of a Hispanic.
My perception of Native Americans came from popular culture, which depicted all Natives as nomadic killers, living in teepees.
While there remains no simple solution when it comes to race relations, at least there are small steps being taken to the larger goal of perceived inclusiveness.