I believe the statue of Christopher Columbus in front of the state Capitol should remain down. I also believe we ought to do a better job teaching an accurate history of colonization to our children and provide them with statues of real heroes to emulate.

When my son was in elementary school, my family traveled to Jamaica. During one of our excursions, we learned about the Taino people who had lived there for 2,500 years before Columbus’ landing on the island in 1494. We also learned that Columbus and his men enslaved, killed, and stole from the Tainos throughout the Caribbean Islands. From the very first moment Columbus laid eyes on the native peoples of the region, his thoughts were how best to exploit and oppress them. This was the way that indigenous people were treated at the hands of many settlers of European descent.

When my son returned to school after our trip, his class celebrated Columbus Day. The explorer was portrayed positively, leaving my son trying to reconcile what he had learned in Jamaica with what he was learning in his classroom.

The toppling of that statue is long overdue. Why some legislators are working to restore this statue rather than focusing on the real work of achieving racial justice is beyond me. Surely, the crime of removing a statue without legal permission is nothing compared to the crimes perpetuated by Columbus and those who followed for the sake of their own pride and greed.

Angela Smith, Oronoco