Essay: Stop honoring genocide

A statue of Christopher Columbus in Roseville was covered up during Columbus Day weekend. (Photo courtesy of Jose Gonzalez)

Roseville must remove a statue of Christopher Columbus

By Jose Gonzalez

For nearly three years I have reached out multiple times to the Roseville City Council to push for the removal of the Christopher Columbus statue in front of a post office and across from the civic center. The first city council I asked did not register a heartbeat, while the current one has only registered a dim pulse.

The Columbus statue was donated to the city in October 1976 by the Sons of Italy, a now defunct entity. Although I had driven past the statue numerous times, I never gave it any attention. It was not until the Columbus Day weekend three years ago that I realized the statue honored Columbus. I was stunned.

I had just started exploring Columbus the previous month. While at Sacramento State University’s library, I found a book, Confronting Columbus, that opened my mind to the atrocities committed under Columbus in the West Indies. The more I read, the more troubled, sickened and horrified I felt.

Columbus initiated centuries of genocide against indigenous populations throughout the Americas, including California. He began the trans-Atlantic slave trade when he returned to Spain after his first voyage across the Atlantic with a handful of Taino survivors. Altogether, hundreds of indigenous slaves were taken across the Atlantic. Under Columbus, Tainos as young as 14 that failed to meet their gold quotas had their hands chopped off. Those that ran off were chased down by dogs. Living conditions for the Tainos became so atrocious that many died of starvation or suicide. Eventually, as a result of hundreds of thousands of indigenous deaths due to violence, disease, starvation and suicide, African slaves were shipped to the West Indies to replace them.

More and more people are learning the truth about Columbus. A few expressed their outrage during the recent Columbus/Indigenous Peoples’ Day weekend by vandalizing Columbus statues with red paint in Chula Vista and San Francisco. Increasingly, cities are choosing to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day instead of Columbus Day.

Meanwhile, Roseville is waiting for the sale of the post office property to be finalized before relocating the Columbus statue. The city has reported that it plans to reach out to neighboring cities to take in the statue. Destroying it is not an option as it is considered to be art.

The city is well aware of the controversy surrounding the statue, and covered it up during the Columbus/Indigenous Peoples’ Day weekend to protect it from being vandalized. It has been vandalized multiple times, which explains why it is missing its nose.

Jose Gonzalez is a retired state correctional youth counselor who lives in Roseville.

Although I do not know where the statue will end up, I do know an increasing number of people do not want it in a public venue. The statue is especially offensive to our indigenous, Latino and African-American populations.

I encourage Roseville council members to study Columbus. Doing so will help them understand why so many find the statue so offensive and why it should be permanently removed.

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2 Comments on "Essay: Stop honoring genocide"

  1. Jose- and I encourage you in exchange to go remove the tombstones of your parents, grandfathers, etc. from wherever they are and move them to where we will never see them again. You and your heritage are part of those men that committed that genocide that repulses you so much. You are one of them by default, so go remove yourself as well so we don’t have to put up with you either. Show the public you have the courage to despise and call out your own family first, then we can talk about that inanimate object you so much hate.

  2. Aragua, thank you for sharing your opinion. You have clearly exposed your hate and racism. By your brand of thinking, my family and I are responsible for the genocide of millions of indigenous peoples throughout the Americas since Columbus’first voyage across the Atlantic. By your brand of thinking, today’s U.S. Americans should despise all people of Japanese ancestry for Pearl Harbor. By your brand of thinking, all Armenians should despise all Turks for the Armenian genocide. By your brand of thinking, all Jews should despise all Germans for the Holocaust. By your brand of thinking, all U.S. Americans should despise all Muslims for 911. By your brand of thinking, all Mexicans should despise all U.S. White Americans for the Mexican/American War. By your brand of thinking, all Black Africans should despise all White Europeans for the African slave trade. By your brand of thinking, all Christians should despise all Jews for Jesus’ crucifixion. By your brand of thinking, all Vietnamese should despise all U.S. Americans for the American invasion of Vietnam. Do you get my drift? By your brand of thinking, if you had the mechanisms, you would fulfill your will, which is vengence! Unlike you, I don’t roll like that. Throughout history, there have been those that have stood against evil, and sometimes have paid with their lives. For example, the German citizens that stood against Hitler. I suggest you throw away your broad brush of hate and racism, and stop seeking vengence against people you identify as guilty today for acts that occurred centuries ago. Your hate and racism has blurred your thinking and has driven you to adopt a preposterous and dangerous thought process. It is my hope that you find a therapist soon that will help you overcome the hate and racism within you before it consumes you completely.

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