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Progressive Italians to Transform the Columbus Holiday (PITCH)

Statement In Support of a Respectful Celebration of Italian Heritage

We, as progressive Italians, support a holiday for Italian-Americans here in the United States, much as Saint Patrick's Day honors the contributions and achievements of people of Irish heritage. We believe there should be a celebration of Italian culture and heritage to honor the vast contributions of people of Italian descent to both our American and world culture today. We believe this day should be a national holiday, to recognize the difficult history of targeting and persecution people of Italian descent have faced throughout US history. 

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 The celebration of Columbus in the United States is based upon an outdated notion of "discovery" that completely ignores the history of brutal colonization endured by native people as well as archaeological evidence that people had lived in this hemisphere for many centuries prior to his arrival. It is particularly important that people of Italian descent are not portrayed as perpetuating racism and oppression. 

Any day of celebration of Italian culture and Italian contributions should honor people who truly deserve to be recognized for their achievements. Italian-Americans such as Fiorello La Guardia, Anne Bancroft, Salvador Luria and Henry Mancini and Italian renaissance artists, philosophers and inventors such as Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Galileo, and Machiavelli, as well as many others, sincerely deserve to be recognized for their advancements for the benefit of human history. 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. 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.

Sincerely,

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If you wish to join PITCH or be listed as a signatory to this document please send e-mail to pitch@transformcolumbusday.org

 

 

2004 Transform Columbus Day Alliance
10/20/2004