In the past, I would have said that we shouldn't necessarily take them down and destroy them, but that we should provide information as to what their context in order to be able to understand them in our modern day. Just because they still exist, it does not mean that we should destroy them, and certainly not celebrate them. No, I now understand that such a view is wrong and not good enough. This is why I am glad that Black Lives Matter is happening, because I am learning about about myself and more about the world too. This is not to say that I would celebrate these statues however. A statue of Winston Churchill for instance, is not something I would celebrate. He was a sexist, imperialist and a political opportunist. He was thus not just a great national leader! However, now I see that, especially in the case of statues of slave traders, that argument is not good enough. I love history and I guess that I was thinking more about preserving historical items, rather than how others would see them, and what they represent to different people.
Today, a statue of a slave trader in Bristol was taken down by protestors and thrown into the water. I agree and believe that the protestors were justified in their actions. For the many slaves who had their lifeless bodies discarded into The Atlantic, or to those who chose death over bondage, the statue of this monster falling below the water seems a fitting end for this statue. Amazingly, such statues are being taken down in America too. People are getting angry that other statues, such as one of Winston Churchill are being vandalised. In my view, paint can be washed off, but people's lives cannot be taken back. For statues that we as a society no longer see as positive, but rather are something that reflect our evil or past misdeeds, should be removed. They should be placed into museums or archives so that they can be properly scrutinised, their histories and contexts displayed. This may sound similar to my older belief, but it is, I assure not the same. They should be displayed in places which don't celebrate them, which don't glorify them, but simply in places where they exist to be learned from and remembered as evils to never be repeated.
Societies change. Our values and beliefs change. Statues and their meanings change. Like everything in the world, they were created and they thus have a beginning. They then have an end. This end doesn't have to mean destruction, but can mean that they are removed from their original places, to finally no longer mean what their creators sought. But if they are destroyed, then let us ask ourselves why this was the case, why did people object to it, and what does it say about us if we disagree?
On the 25th of May 2020, the world lost George Floyd to murder by police. Only a few weeks later, change is finally happening. This is to a better world, a more equal world and to a world with no racism or injustice of any kind.