I have had various people ask me about my views about the Colston Statue in Bristol that was torn down last weekend. I am of the mind that damage to property in normal circumstances is unjust; however, by looking at this at the surface level, we negate the meaningful insight into the why. Let me say this these are not normal circumstances.
Simplistic rules and regulations are not how life works; humans are not machines or computers which follow fixed algorithms or binary code of on or off. Why do we so often find ourselves in a position of either supporting something or not supporting something because we believe that these personal rules hold without really interrogating why?
Let me say this: our rules are made up. You made those rules they don’t mean anything to anyone, even yourself. Where do these innate rules come? Have we been trained to live life like this? This is colonised thinking, and as educator we must fight to change this mode as it will adversely impact on the interactions with young people.
Let’s look at the situation around the last week. We, in the UK, are in lockdown, and the rules are that we should socially distance, when out and not leave the house unless necessary for exercise, socially or for work. Looking at the protestors, On a purely rational basis, either it is easy to see them as reckless and flouting rules if we do not look at the deeper reasons why.
For people to leave their house in the middle of a pandemic means that they are risking their lives. If you are PoC or BAME, you are at a higher risk of death. So it follows that people are risking their lives because it’s worth the risk. What is worth it? Let me start with the police; I do not know of one man of colour who has not had an adverse interaction with a police officer, not one. Think about that. Looking at that statistics:
Black men are twice as likely to die in police custody
Black people are 40 times more likely to stopped and searched
Black people receive longer custodial sentences
Black pupils are more likely to be excluded
The economic inequities which lead to COVID-19 deaths
So, Is it worth it? Yes.
On to the statue. Is it criminal to pull any property of the state down and throw it in the river? No.
Looking at the ‘why’, the statue is a symbol of a man who trafficked humans as cargo, 1000’s were drowned at sea. As the state only stopped paying reparation to the slave owners in 2015, our taxes lined their pockets until then. So not only did the descendants of enslaved people pay the perpetrators for their ancestor’s freedom. Now they are forced to walk past monuments celebrating the same people perpetrated those very same mass murders.
Is it worth it? To those people, yes.