Italian-Americans are not Columbus’ legacy

Lindsay Giovannone, Copy Desk Chief

Italian-American Heritage and Culture Month is celebrated in the United States each October to honor the achievements and contributions of Italian immigrants. But the issue with the month is that it has been associated with the legacy of the imperialist Christopher Columbus. This isn’t fair to my heritage, which should not be reduced to the actions of a brutal colonizer. In addition, Columbus isn’t even Italian. He was born in the Republic of Genoa in 1451, 410 years before Italy became a unified country. Geographically, yes, Columbus is from the peninsula that is now known as Italy, but he was never Italian.

History aside, my great-grandfather was a stowaway in the early 1900s not based on the Columbian principle to illegitimately and cruelly claim people and land, but on the desire for a life in the United States. He traveled frequently back to his home country to bring his family gifts from America, such as watermelon. The majority of Italian immigrants arrived in the country between 1880 and 1924, well after Columbus set foot on American soil. They should not be tagged with the actions of Columbus.

To say that we should not celebrate Italian-Americans is to disregard the accomplishments and history of 26 million Americans, including my family, who helped dig the first subway tunnel in New York City. The Giovannone Bros. construction company engineered and paved all of Route 10 in New Jersey. Doesn’t that matter? Do these contributions and those of countless others mean nothing?

We are not the legacy of Christopher Columbus, so please do not consider us as such.

To my paisan, felice mese del patrimonio Italo-Americano.