Worldwide, people have taken to the streets
in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, catalysed by the police murder of African American George Floyd.
Since this, a considerable amount of media attention has been directed towards protests,
which have involved the defacing and dethroning of statues: figures whose reputations were built on the crushing of people of colour.
This has caused a significant amount of controversy and has sparked much productive
and progressive debate, although many would say it has been exploited as a way to detract from the aims of the movement and generate negative sentiment towards protesters.
The topic amassed nationwide attention after protesters submerged a statue of Slave Trader Edward Colston into Bristol Harbour in June.
Like many affluent people in 18th century Britain, he was heavily involved
in the Atlantic slave trade, although his charitable pursuits are what led him to be memorialised.
Activists on the day of the toppling of the statue were adamant that Colston’s charitable deeds in no way made up for the transportation of thousands of Africans into slavery.
“The statue was glorifying the acts of a slave trader,” one said. “He gave some money to schools and good causes but it was blood money.”. His statue was situated in a public space, emphasising the power given to the oppressors within our society.
This sentiment arguably pays more homage to hate than heritage. Many politicians have advocated against this unlawful vandalization;
however, when we compare focused vandalism to the monuments of men who used barbarism to achieve their fortunes, which is worse?
Bristol was one of the first cities to catch on to the slave trade and make a vast fortune; therefore,
it is fitting that Bristol is the city that started the nationwide debate about racism and history.
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