Is the destruction of statues necessary?

Dhruv – Year 8 Student

Editor’s note: Moved by the events that followed the death of George Floyd and the ensuing Black Lives Matter movement, Dhruv, now in Year 9, challenged himself to reflect more fully on the scenes that unfolded before him at that time. These are complex and certainly emotive events, and yet Dhruv addresses them, albeit incompletely, with remarkable maturity for a student of his age. This is Dhruv’s second publication in The GSAL Journal; you can read more from Dhruv here. CPD

In the last few weeks [June 2020] there have been protests, named ‘Black Lives Matter’, initially regarding the death of a black man from the USA named George Floyd. This incident had awoken the realization about racial inequality. These protests had begun peacefully, but they slowly transformed into violence. In Bristol, there was a statue of a man brought down. This man was Edward Colston. Edward Colston was a business man whose wealth helped transform Bristol, not just by looks but also its economy, into the wonderful place it is now. However, the only major problem is that Edward Colston was a slave trader, thereby meaning a large amount of his money was made in the slave triangle. This isn’t the only area which has seen the downfall of statues: in the USA, many other slave trader statues have been removed, and explorer Christopher Columbus’ statue has also fallen. It has grown to so much concern that many historical figures’ statues, even those not involved in slavery, have been boarded up, due to concerns about them being brought down. We can all agree that racism is morally wrong, but does this mean that all statues should be brought down?

Bringing down statues is always an ugly situation, but there are more negatives then just this. After being able to read an article by Matthew Syed (‘Toppling statues won’t transform inner cities’), I was able to identify negatives about the toppling of statues. We know that fake information can be spread like wildfire on the Internet: in my opinion, sharing on the Internet is like a game of whispers – the further it is shared, the more the truth fades away. For example, a group of teenagers saw a statue of Bernardo O’Higgins (the description, Liberator of Chile, born 1817), and they instantly thought, due to the description, that he was a slave trader. They came to the conclusion that it should be taken down; however, Bernardo O’Higgins actually argued that the slave industry was morally wrong. Many other minor events have occurred like the one outlined, often a result of shared mis-information.

Edward Colston might have made communities richer, but that doesn’t hide the dark things he had committed. By placing his statue at the forefront of Bristol life, it might create strong emotions in the hearts of the black community every time they see the statue. Therefore, by bringing it down it might allow the black community in Bristol and around the globe to feel more at peace. It could allow supporters of racial equality to feel that we are one step closer to the equal world that we all want.

With the gathering of all this information, I want to create a conclusion. I believe in racial equality, and I believe that schools around the world should educate children about the atrocities which occurred because of racist acts. I argue that statues should not be thrown into the river, but nor should they be placed in areas where they might emotionally hurt communities. I believe that these historical statues should be placed in museums. Through information displays, everyone will be able to better understand the positives and the negatives about these historical figures. We will be able to better educate the children of modern day society, and help them better understand information presented to them in the media. As a result, a better world will be created.


Matthew Syed – ‘Toppling statues won’t transform inner cities

Dhruv 988127

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