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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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The crisis forces us to confront the scourge of racism

Those who think statues do not need to be taken down are complicit in upholding institutional racism. Statues are a performance of soft power. Having them up in our streets sends a clear message to the citizens of this country about their relative importance. Their impact on race relations is felt in the lived experience of our minority communities, and the everyday micro aggressions they suffer at the hands of white communities. It is also felt in the lopsided poverty, police profiling, imprisonment and abuse faced by minority groups. Proponents include Black Lives Matter.
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    This page was last edited on Tuesday, 23 Jun 2020 at 11:37 UTC