DC Mayor Bowser ( Photo courtesy of Mayor's office)

Suddenly, naming anything anywhere after Columbus doesn’t sound quite so appealing anymore, writes Scott Benowitz. 

I wrote an article about the Washington D.C. statehood movement, which The Pavlovic Today published back in September of 2016.

The Washington D.C. statehood movement began back in 1801. The issue has been a thorn in the side to our Federal government for 220 years now.

Here’s why I think DC Statehood is a good idea: 
Statehood status will benefit Washingtonians.  As of now, they presently have zero (0) representation in the U.S. Senate.  Statehood status for Washington D.C. would bring the number of Senators from 100 up to 102.  Washingtonians would finally have representation in both houses of Congress. They may end up with the worst Senators ever; they may end up with the best Senators ever, but whomever they end up electing has got to be better than the no one who is presently representing them in the Senate.
There is something that has changed since the article that I wrote about this topic back in 2016.  Four years ago, the proposed name for Washington D.C. should the city finally achieve statehood status was “New Columbia.”
The idea was based on the Christopher Columbus being symbolic of exploration, bravery, exploring new worlds and new ideas, a vision of a healthy future for the entire world.  In the 1490s, Columbus opened up the Americas for European exploration, which eventually led to the formation of new countries which embraced democracy, equality, and freedom in ways that were impossible in Europe during the colonial era.
However, that’s actually a very sanitized and whitewashed version of history.  Within the past few years, the legacy of Christopher Columbus has been reassessed.
He actually opened up the Americas to European exploration so that the monarchs of Europe, their extended families, and their friends could plunder the resources of the entire hemisphere. The European monarchs established colonial empires throughout North, and South America built almost entirely by slave labor.  The colonial regimes forced indigenous tribes to convert to Christianity against their wills, and they slaughtered indigenous tribes throughout the Americas.  That’s actually a more accurate description of the legacy of Christopher Columbus, and in 2021 we’re still struggling to finally get past the legacy of centuries of institutionalized racist policies.
Suddenly, naming anything anywhere after Columbus doesn’t sound quite so appealing anymore.
Aside from statehood status, Washingtonians will also have to create a name for the 51st state.

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Scott Benowitz

Scott Benowitz is a staff writer for Afterimage Review. He holds an MSc in Comparative Politics from The London School of Economics & Political Science and a B.A. in International Studies from Reed...

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