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What is the intellectual framing of the UK statues debate? Show more Show less

In June 2020 Bristol protestors rioting against the murder of George Floyd tore down a statue of Edward Colston. Having hauled it from its plinth, they eventually abandoned the statue in the city's harbour. Hundreds of onlookers gathered to watch, viewing this as a momentous step in the fight against racism. Colston is known as the man who built Bristol. He bequeathed his enormous fortune to the city upon his death. 300 years on, the scale of his legacy is visceral in Bristol's landmarks and architecture, and the names of its schools, concert halls, streets, restaurants, pubs and cathedral. Yet, his fortune was built on slavery, leading many to argue that the statue props up institutional racism in the UK. Since Colston's toppling, activists have circulated lists of hundreds more controversial statues they say must be removed to end racial inequality. Others call this type of campaigning problematic. They view the destruction of monuments as historical whitewashing. For them, this trend is an affront to British history that does not confront the real issues at play. So, who are these groups, what do they think, and why?

"Taking down the statues redresses protracted injustice" Show more Show less

We cannot claim to stand against racial injustice, if we make no attempt to redress it.
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We are experiencing a long overdue political resistance

For too long we have allowed institutional racism to breed in our politics and our society. Democracy has failed us. This is why we must now create alternative routes to create positive change. Taking down the statues signals an emerging resistance to this insidious problem. The call is not for revolution, it is for action. It is telling that a country whose vast wealth is built on colonisation and policies of divide and rule, has not acknowledged its past in any meaningful way until now. That is the first step to reimagining a more equal future.
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    This page was last edited on Wednesday, 24 Jun 2020 at 10:51 UTC