Statues should not distract us from the real issue at hand
Tearing down Coulston's image was necessary to start a long-overdue debate. Now, we need to turn those that still stand into educational tools by introducing plaques that tell the full stories of these controversial figures. Rewriting incomplete narratives benefits no one.
Taking down statues of controversial historical figures is justified and necessary. However, the act of taking down these statues ought not to distract from the issues of racial injustice. The debate must not become a binary choice of either fighting to take down statues or a national discussion of racism. Both problems ought to be tackled simultaneously, and letting the controversy over statues get in the way of fighting for racial justice would be a mistake. This would allow injustices to continue even while statues topple. Statues are merely a symptom of the disease itself. To lose focus on the larger problem is an error. “Britain is a very divided country on class, culture, and other grounds. We thus react to the inherited celebrations of British greatness either by embracing or by rejecting them, but always too emphatically. Events such as the toppling of the Colston statue do not solve this divide.”
There is an old saying, “we can walk and chew gum at the same time.” That is the mentality that people must adopt when fighting for racial and social justice. Taking down statues does not mean that we will stop fighting against racial injustices. Whenever critics point to the toppling of statues as mob activity or anti-democratic, we must explain the justified reasons for taking down said statues while reiterating the need to push for fundamental legislative changes. Statues only distract from the real issues at hand if we allow them to.