Hiya, so what I am writing about has been on mine, well all of our minds really, in the past couple of weeks. I wasn’t actually thinking of writing about this however as we have seen, many things have taken off in the last couple of days, and there really have been a huge range of conflicting views, where some feel it is immensely important to not only raise awareness online but to take this out onto the street- while others are at disgust at the threat that a small minority of protesters have on some of our most iconic statues: leading them to also take to the street in order to protect these. While others think that we shouldn’t be protesting at all because we are all still in the middle of a pandemic! So then, what should actually happen. Well , personally anybody should have the right to protest providing no harm is done while everyone should be educated about the surrounding issues as best as possible. Believe it or not, generally I think that this has been happening in reaction to what has happened. Though there is a minority of people, on both sides whom I think are taking this too far, meanwhile it is SO IMPORTANT that we combat racism!
Now to begin with, in many countries NOT excluding the UK, there are tremendous levels of racism. Whether it is disguisable or not. There is a far greater proportion of victims of police brutality coming from ethnic minorities in the UK, in comparison to those categorised as “white, British”. Between 2017 and 2018, there were 10 arrests per thousand of white people compared to 35 arrests per 1000 black people. While if you find this shocking, “black people are more than 8 times more likely to be stopped and searched by the police” while the “metropolitan police is four times as likely to use force against black people”. What’s more is that a study showed that 42% of millennial employees had experienced or witnessed racism in the workplace. Now if this can’t make you outraged, then I don’t know what can…
Furthermore lets talk education. Now I was NOT aware of the immense levels of racism which occur within the UK, or elsewhere. I knew that there may be SMALL levels of police discrimination here in the UK, and I expected this to be worse within the USA and other countries. But not to this extent. Initially I wasn’t too surprised at the George Floyd killing, having some knowledge on police brutality. But in the wake of the outrage following this, I begun to realise the hideous reality faced by so many people! Therefore it is essential that we all continue to listen to others, educate ourselves and then speak up about these matters ourselves! We should ALL be disgusted about this, as although we do not face this ourselves, it is our country and world therefore our duty to make it a fair place for everybody!
Moving onto the statues. Reading what I have said, you may or may not be surprised about what is about to follow. However I do not condone ruining or dilapidating statues and I will go onto why I think that is the case. Nevertheless I do symaphasise with these people choosing to do so…
Quite rightly so, people are outraged about how so many years have passed, nevertheless we still have not managed to overcome the prejudism within our country, let alone in others. Meanwhile during the lifetime of some of these people represented in these statues, we were a far more racist society. Thus in some respects, you could claim that British history is actually rooted in racism. Yet I personally believe that some of these people have done genuine good for the history of the UK, and while too there are repulsive elements of their legacy, in many cases, it is still history. Which we shouldn’t hide, but instead educate others about, and accept this was the past and there was some good, yet now we can and should move forward and do much better!
But who the hell are some of these people then, really?
Initially when I watched videos of Edwards Colston’s statue plunge into the River Avon, not to mention him becoming knocked off the post- I was fuelled with satisfaction. Having become informed that he was a slave trader (I didn’t know who he was before then). Though he also supported and endowed schools and hospitals in Bristol and elsewhere. But does this justify his brutal actions and involvement in the slave trade? Absolutely not! And I think that most of us would agree. Now let’s Winston Churchill, who unlike Colston we all know of, and we generally perceive him as having been a good person. A war hero! He inspired the Nation with quotes like “blood, sweat and tears” and historian Max Hastings states well that “It was his inspiration that prevented Britain from joining the rest of Europe in surrendering to the might of Nazi Germany,”. Though what is less known is that he also held very controversial views regarding race and disability. According to TheWeek.com, he was “a keen supporter of eugenics” which is something he actually had in common with the Nazi party. While he “drafted a piece of legislation which mandated those suffering with mental illness to be steralised”. He also admitted that he didn’t think a “great wrong” had been done regarding the takeover of the “red Indians of America” or the “black people of Australia” by a “stronger, higher grade race”. Therefore was he good or bad? Regardless, most believe that he did a great deal of good for the country, meanwhile if you don’t agree- his legacy was enormous! While Baden Powell, founder of the scouts, is also allegedly a Nazi sympathizer and a racist. It has been revealed that he “was invited to meet Hitler after holding friendly talks about forming closer ties with the Hitler youth movement”. While he “attacked masturbation and homosexuality”. However we cannot forget what he has done for the Scout movement. But it is fair to say that many of the UK’s historical figures did hold abhorrent views regarding race. So perhaps it may be a case here those who have done more harm than good get removed and the others stay?
But I think that the actual issue doesn’t lie within the presence of the statues, yes it is immensely devastating that so many of our historical figures showed such abhorrent views, but what is worse is that we still haven’t gotten rid of racism within our society after all these years. While many (including myself) weren’t completely enlightened on the force of racism in the past, and certainly weren’t aware on the amount still reoccurring today…
Therefore I think that it is a lack of education as opposed to what has happened. Children should be taught about the past, not only in advances which have been made, and battles which have been won, but the reality of how so many were treated with such barbarism. As well as the imperative advances which need to be made to this day! While institutions within the UK should work harder on providing people with more information on the reality of the ugly involvements in British history- then possibly reconsider celebrating some of this. But not hiding it.
This way we should be well enough informed to fight any current inequalities. While we need to realise that the mammoth majority of those of us quite rightly advocating for BLM, are not particularly interested in any statues- and MOST CERTAINLY don’t want any violence. Rather we want to see a world where everyone is treated and perceived with equal worth!
Finally I know this is a subject very challenging to have a conversation about. As so many have such strong views on this, on either side. However I do think it is important to talk about these issues, in order to continue to raise awareness, and so that us as a Nation (and world) are able too genuinely move forward. As it is only people who have the power to combat these issues for good, and collectively- there is absolutely no reason why this wold be impossible.