Lens Of The People By Treyvon Waddy: Columbus Day

Good Afternoon, readers! Lens of The People is a column dedicated to the capture of the real-life scenarios and events of the local Houston area whilst also giving the thoughts and opinions of the Houston community itself its own voice to speak through.

This week my focus is on how certain classic holidays have aged and adapted to today’s cultural and social climate. For example, many Americans have started to completely shun the idea of Columbus Day in favor of the name “Indigenous People’s Day” to honor the natives that were killed and pillaged upon Christopher Columbus’ arrival to America. Naturally this sparked controversy over the web as people who have been celebrating Columbus Day for so long simply don’t feel the need for change. This got me thinking of other holidays such as Christmas, Thanksgiving and Halloween. All of these are much more mainstream and more widely celebrated, but even still I would imagine there are some differences in how they’re celebrated from person to person, because of each holiday’s respective origins. That all being said, my question to the public this week is: How do you feel certain other holidays could be redefined in a similar fashion as Columbus Day to make them fit better with today’s social and cultural climate?

I would change Christmas because it’s become so material. For one, Christmas is very questionable in its Christian roots. So people keep saying ‘keep Christ in Christmas’ but then go broke buying presents and getting upset that they don’t get certain things that they want. And for me personally if you want to make it Christian it should be a day or season of going out of your way and serving others. It shouldn’t be about presents. It should be about love and care.” –Jasmine Gershanov

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“I like Indigenous People’s Day. I think it’s dope that we unofficially celebrate indigenous people. If I could change Thanksgiving I’d make it a day where we honor and recognize native people on their history and how it was torn down. I think it’s ridiculous that we still recognize Thanksgiving and Columbus Day. It just shows how White supremacy and capitalism work together and feed off of each other today in society. The holidays we celebrate today are solely for profit.” Brandon Annipot

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I think nowadays a lot of our holidays are a lot more commercial, and I think that has a lot to do with the taking away of their original contexts and traditions and westernizing them to make them more profitable. I think for a lot of the holidays, like Christmas or Halloween, I feel we should just make people more aware of their history. I think that if they were taught in schools or even advertised it would move us forward as a country and as a nation.” Kareah Keith

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“I don’t think it should be called Columbus Day because the pilgrims didn’t really find the land. They stole it and by creating a day for them it takes the identity away from the people who really lived there before. I don’t think Columbus Day should be celebrated period, but if we have to, we should change the meaning and at least give knowledge. Because a lot of books, even today, don’t talk about how they acquired the land. Because I didn’t even know about it until middle school. But I think holidays overall are what you make of it and how you’re brought up to view the holiday.” Amara Eze

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“I’d probably make Valentine’s Day more centered around self-love. The reason why everyone hates it is because it’s solely focused on romantic relationships. We should all be able to enjoy it in our own special way. 4th of July and Thanksgiving? I just want the founding fathers to be called out on their BS. I’d rather focus on the people and values that REALLY make this country great, like by highlighting minority communities more and the value of freedom. Basically the same concept as Columbus Day now. Black History Month needs to be highly celebrated, especially on HBCU campuses. I don’t think it should be just a regular month. The same goes for other cultural celebrations, like Dia De Los Muertos.”Janaya Britton

Photographer’s Thoughts

I feel that now, more than ever, with the country as diverse as it is divided, that America should really buckle down and embrace the title of “melting pot” that it’s been boasting for so long. I feel that changing holidays, whether it be as simple as just changing the name, to more complex changes as creating ways for those holidays to inform the public about their respective cultural origins, would help massively with cultural integration and acceptance and help everyone get a better perspective on cultures outside of their own. I believe that this would also help the fine line between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation and would not be so blurry and difficult for many to understand.

This was Lens of The People, a column dedicated to giving the Houston community a voice and a platform. Stay on the lookout for more, all made possible by The Forward Times!