Nathan Fulgado Friday, 26 June 2020

An Iconoclast Revolution

The protests against the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis have made headlines all across the globe. Protests have been organised in the UK, Australia and New Zealand and Asian countries as well. From Premier League footballers taking a knee before the beginning of their match, to a human chain, connected with a ribbon formed in Berlin, people from different countries are showing their solidarity for the Black Lives Movement. Another incredible and kind of brilliant measure taken by protests is the removal of statues of confederate soldiers and representatives, slave owners and white supremacists not just in America, but all over the globe, especially countries that were colonised by the British Empire. From the most simplistic point of view, this seems like an act of vandalism and blatant destruction of property, but let’s delve into why this act is actually a really important indicator of the progress the world has made in terms of racial issues and injustice.

The whole act of statue removal didn’t emerge this year, but in 2015. After a shooting in a town in Louisiana, called the Charleston church shooting, where nine African Americans were killed by a white supremacist in a church, the town removed all Confederate statues and memorials two years later. The statues of Confederate commander Robert Lee, were also taken down in the southern states of America. Confederate statues are now being taken down in southern states including Florida, Texas, Indiana, Alabama, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky and Arkansas. Even historical monuments are being taken down in California. According to New York Magazine protesters in the capital Washington D.C want to tear down the statue of former President Andrew Jackson. Protesters attempted to tear down the statue by throwing a rope around it and yanking it down but were unsuccessful in doing so. Andrew Jackson is also Donald Trump’s personal hero. According to Fox News, Trump is expected to issue an executive order to ensure that states protect their monuments.

Other countries have also jumped on the ‘take down the statues’ bandwagon as iconoclasts all over the world are now seeking out signs and symbols of slavery and oppression, and tearing them down. A statue of 17th century slave trader Edward Colston was toppled in the town of Bristol in England. Following that, the government had planned to remove similar statues that stood the risk of being destroyed by protesters. The statue of former Prime Minister Winston Churchill was also defaced by protestors, which led to the boarding up of statues across London by Mayor Sadiq Khan. In Australia, people have been encouraged to think about the people they celebrate. They include commanders and generals who slaughtered the native Aborigines during the colonisation of Australia and New Zealand. In Australia, many counties, streets and public places of interest are named after colonists and British imperialists but there is almost no Aboriginal representation on a street, a park or any similar public place.

The removal of statues is done to vanquish any form of glorification of white supremacy. White supremacy is what led to the evil of slavery, and the glorification of slave traders, slave owners, confederate icons is a spit in the face to anyone who claims America and the world is progressing, in terms of acceptance of other races. Statues are meant to teach us about the past, but they are also a symbol of the oppression of an entire race and the immutable legacy left behind by left behind by the person glorified in statue form, and in this case, is basically celebrating the years of torture and slavery dealt out to African Americans by their white owners. This is precisely why the taking down of such symbols has been long overdue and is an appropriate measure to show a country’s progress in terms of racial discrimination.

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