Maybe my title is a little over-the-top, I admit that. But, there is a ring of truth to the title of this piece. Today is Columbus day. The day where way back in 1492, Columbus landed on the shores of America. We all know the story after that: A lot of people died.
A LOT of people.
Mainly it was diseases. I mean, yea torture, the Church, and forced labor did a number. But really, it was the infectious diseases that just did a number on the native populations of America. And so today, is a day that reminds us of two things:
1. Today, Columbus discovered America.
2. A lot of people died because of that.
I have had a very interesting conversation with a Seneca friend of mine. She currently has her Facebook status set as "Happy Invasion day." To which I replied "Remember, I am Sicilian, we're not Italian, don't blame us!" To which she replies: "YOU'RE ALL THE SAME, IMMIGRANT!" Admittedly, she was joking (yes, our sense of humor is rather morbid)... but she also spoke of an uncomfortable truth.
Immigrant issues aside, she and I have had discussions about this for years and year. She feels that the Native populations tend to abuse the guilt. She points out that someone like myself shouldn't feel guilty because I had no bearing on the choices of my ancestors. Additionally, she points out that White people get enough flack from 'a hell of a lot of other races' that she feels it's almost becoming a bit of a joke.
That's her opinion, anyways. She obviously doesn't represent the majority, but I think her point about abusing white-guilt is rather poignant.
Which brings me to my point: I feel guilty about being Sicilian/Italian
Sicilian, Italian... whatever you want to lump me as. When Columbus day rolls around, I prepare myself to endure twenty-four hours of "The-reason-why-you-suck" speeches and newscasts. I get to turn on the History channel and hear about the cruelty of every native in America.
- And I think people tend to do one of a few things:
- Say it's OK, and that every culture has it's skeletons.
- Tell me to suck it up and deal.
- I shouldn't feel responsible, and those who blame me are jerks.
- The past is the past, and EVERYONE needs to get over it.
- You should feel guilty...
- AND you should feel even more guilty for questioning your guilt in the first place, murderer.
So I ask you, should I feel guilty for being Sicilian/Italian? I mean, I don't remember ever killing, torturing or maiming Natives. I don't even recall any of my Ancestors arriving to this country prior to 1492 (And I have family trees dating back to the 1300's). I know I shouldn't feel guilty, I know I shouldn't let myself, but I do.