Newton’s vote this month to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day is a win for liberals, and antiracist activists will surely use it as a steppingstone toward a better future. However, including a call to establish an Italian American Heritage Day in the same resolution is a compromise that actually causes harm.
Acknowledging the historic and ongoing wrongs committed against Indigenous people and honoring their contributions is an objective that should stand on its own without qualification. Establishing an Italian American Heritage Day is also a worthy cause on its own merits and should have no connection to the elimination of Columbus Day.
The small minority who believe that Christopher Columbus is an honorable symbol of Italian heritage don’t understand the genocide that Columbus initiated, and Newton’s pandering to this group undermines principled antiracism.
Dismantling white privilege and addressing the racist roots of our country might hurt some feelings, but we must proceed unapologetically and without compromise.
Nora Lester Murad