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Santa Barbara News Press 
August 12, 2001

More to History than Music, Dancing 

After reading the article by Joshua Molina (8/3/2001, "Vandalism Has Political Bent") I was surprised not by the decapitated statue of Columbus but by the incredulous reactions of John Petrini and Greg Kennedy of the Knights of Columbus. At the opening of a week in which the city proudly celebrates its Spanish heritage it is remarkable that there is not equal recognition of the genocidal events embedded in that colonial legacy; events such as the transatlantic slave trade which resulted in the decimation of over 8 million indigenous people under Columbus' administration or the cultural and spiritual genocide that undermined native languages and religious systems and forcefully imposed Spanish Catholicism. It is these events which Columbus and Junipero Serra were directly responsible and which continue today in the marginalization of indigenous peoples across the globe and their displacement under globalization. Unfortunately, it is precisely these events that have been erased from our collective memory during Fiestas. In the wake of such an erasure we are allowed to reinvent the past and pretend that Spanish colonialism was simply about music and dancing and that the privileges accrued to Columbus' descendants were simply accidental. Because this history of destruction was clearly inaugurated with Columbus it is surprising to me that more people are not outraged by a statue that "honors" him or a parade that celebrates his brutal legacy. The time is well overdue for our communities to honestly and fully come to terms with this colonial legacy and to abolish holidays such as Columbus Day and Old Spanish days in favor of events that inspire mutual respect.

Anna Sampaio

(this letter was published on August 12, 2001)


2004 Transform Columbus Day Alliance