Friday, October 12, 2018

Goodbye, Columbus

Raise your hand if you got Columbus Day off.
Let's see: That's, um, just about no one. I was asked by a few parents on the way out of school a week ago Friday if we would be open the following Monday. I had to scratch my head for a moment to imagine why. I could not remember an in-service or district work day. National holiday? What might that be? In twenty-two years of teaching, I have never had Columbus Day off. Why would we start now?
Working as I do on this liberal bastion of the left coast, I have never considered the possibility of a three day weekend in that first week of October. Christoper Columbus was a capitalist tool, wandering the globe in anticipation of new routes to extort the rest of the newly round planet for its riches. Or, if you happen to be "President," "Christopher Columbus’s spirit of determination & adventure has provided inspiration to generations of Americans. On #ColumbusDay, we honor his remarkable accomplishments as a navigator, & celebrate his voyage into the unknown expanse of the Atlantic Ocean."
As we have seen before, opinions vary.
How much? Well, consider this: Columbus, Ohio will no longer be participating in their eponymous holiday. Instead, the city fathers have chosen to go all in on Veterans' Day, just a month later, and probably a tad less divisive. Other cities have attempted to manage that kind of backlash by referring to an Indigenous People's Day, but have faced additional confrontations from Italian American groups as well as those Indigenous People who were not pleased to be copy and pasted over the man who they feel was responsible for their genocide. While Columbus the explorer will remain a Federal holiday, Columbus the city will keep on picking up trash and enforcing parking limits.
Meanwhile, back in the People's Republic of the East Bay, we will be taking October 19th off. Not because of Columbus, but because the newly shifted school year closes before Memorial Day, and we will therefore be taking "In Lieu of Memorial Day" to share with our loved ones. Perhaps to meditate on this matter further.
Or to stock up on Halloween candy.

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