Wednesday, October 10, 2007

National Coming Out Day

I didn't get around to posting on Monday, Columbus Day, and I have something I'd like to post about that, but before I do there's something going on tomorrow that I'd like to alert people about.

Tomorrow (Oct 11, 2007) is National Coming Out Day and the twenty year anniversary of the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, accompanied by the AIDs Quilt's first display. The AIDs Quilt is a giant memorial to individuals who have AIDs/HIV or have died from it. In addition to being a memorial, the Quilt is also used to raise money for AIDs service organizations.

This year for National Coming Out Day, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is inviting LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered) people to make videos about coming out and straight people to make videos about being inspired by others coming out. You can check out their website to watch their introductory video and to get information about how to make a video. Also, please check out their Getting Involved/Take Action tab for some information about the HRC's current advocacy campaigns.

On to (or back to) Columbus Day:

Howard Zinn tell us that when Columbus landed in the Bahamas, he was
met by the Arawark Indians, who swam out to greet them. The Arawark lived in village communes, had developed agriculture of corn, yams, cassava. They could spin and weave, but they had no horses or work animals. They had no iron, but they wore tiny gold ornaments in their ears.
This was to have enormous consequence: it led to Columbus to take some of them aboard ship as prisoners because he insisted that they guide him to the source of the gold."

These were just the first of Columbus' prisoners. According to Zinn, when Columbus realized that there was not as much gold in America as he had originally presumed and that he would have to send some merchandise back home he and his men
went on a great slave raid, rounded up fifteen hundred Arawak men, women, and children, put them in pens guarded by Spanairds and dogs, then picked the five hundred best specimens to load onto ships. Of those five hundred, two hundred died en route."

Zinn goes on to say
My point is not that we must, in telling history, accuse, judge, condemn Columbus in absentia. It is too late for that; it would be a useless scholarly exercise in morality. But the easy acceptance of atrocities as a deplorable but necessary price to pay for progress...that is still with us. One reason these atrocities are still with us is that we have learned to bury them in a mass of other facts, as radioactive wastes are buried in containers in the earth."

For some interesting history about the Monacan tribe of Native Americans, who Thomas Jefferson once saw passing through Monticello to visit a burial ground of their ancestors, please check this out.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was there in D.C. 20 years ago. We had no idea the Quilt was going to be there. It was overwhelming. We had no idea then how many more names would be added and how many friends we would lose to AIDS. I have a video of that march somewhere, I need to go find it. Thank you for this post and the memory.