Dissenter FeaturedLatest NewsThe DissenterThe Protest Music Project

Protest Song Of The Week: ‘Chris Columbus’ by Head-Roc

Most of the United States marks Columbus Day on October 10, but there is a movement, which has convinced several city governments to abandon the holiday and instead celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

Hip-hop artist Head-Roc, who describes himself as the mayor of D.C. hip-hop, wrote a protest song that dovetails with this movement and examines the atrocities committed by Columbus against indigenous Americans after he “discovered” America. It appeared on his 2005 album, “Negrophobia,” and is called “Chris Columbus.”

“Every second Monday in October we hold a celebration for a western soldier/Who brought over a culture manifestly destined to rule and take over,” raps Head-Roc.

As Head-Roc rhymes:

Chris Columbus, a man of his time,
Slaughtered Arawak natives to further his kind and they state of mind,
And their take on the divine, allowed them to be so inclined
To send ships with guns,
Filled with men with swords so filled with the love of the Lord,
That they do whatever’s necessary, for their position!
Death is the decision, when they on a mission!
Death is the decision, when they on a mission!
What we talkin’ ’bout? IMPERIALISM!

The song highlights the use of religion to justify colonizing Native Americans. It draws a line from Columbus to America’s penchant for arming rebels or supporting and launching coups in countries.

He raps, “Like cool cats they sit back to see who is dispatched, persist at coup d’etats, promote armed attacks with gift packs plus import crack. Now tell me what you think about that? Do it sound familiar?
To me too cousin I feel ya!”

Head-Roc drew from his ancestry as a descendent of African slaves. “I wrote and produced this album to deal with my frustrations about the complicity America had in the story of enslaved Africans and disenfranchised people, people who don’t follow the western paradigm…[and] out of my anger as an American citizen watching the actions of my government and that they and other western governments can do anything to the rest of the world.”

Columbus boasted of how easy it was to colonize indigenous Americans. “They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane…They would make fine servants…With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.”

People’s historian Howard Zinn is known for his work unraveling the mythology and worship around Columbus. He wrote in A People’s History Of The United States about the need to “question, for that time and ours, the excuse of progress in the annihilation of races, and the telling of history from the standpoint of the conquerors and leaders of Western civilization.”

Head-Roc’s protest song is an incredibly enduring song. Not only does it confront the deification of Columbus, but also the root causes of American culture that drive Americans to value celebrating a brutal conqueror. And, finally, he connects the centuries of conquest, violence, hunger, and exploitation against black people to the origin of this country, very powerfully challenging the mythology we create to forget and overlook past crimes against humanity.


Are you an independent artist who has written and/or produced a protest song that you would like featured? Or do you have a favorite protest song? Submit a song to protestmusic@Shadowproof.com

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."