Politics: If the UK is not a racist country, why memorialise slave traders like Edward Colston?

Edward Coleston

The Edward Colston Statue Is Exactly Where It Belongs.

Black Lives Matter protestors in Bristol made history over the weekend when they pulled down the statue of slave trader Edward Colston and tossed it in the harbour.

Edward Colston became a member of the Royal African Company in 1680 that held the monopoly on slave trading along the West Coast of Africa. In one decade, Colston would become Deputy Governor, one of the top executive positions in the company, and during his twelve-year career would accumulate the majority of his wealth by trafficking 84,000 Black African people from their homes to the Caribbean and the Americas.

19,000 of these captured men, women, and children died during the Middle Passage. Traveling for up to three months, they were chained, branded, and beaten like cattle. They would have died afraid and in pain. Edward Colston made his wealth from the mass murder of innocent Africans, so why should a black British person today have to walk past a statue that memorialises his business acumen and philanthropy – philanthropy that was funded by the stolen lives of people who look like them?

The petitions and pleas from the Black citizens of Bristol have fallen on deaf ears since 1990. The statue of this mass murderer had stood since 1895, alongside many other slave traders dotted around the UK. The transatlantic slave trade and the horrors of colonialism have plagued black people for hundreds of years with the reverberations still felt in today’s British society, from the daily micro-aggressions that are experienced in the workplace to the racist killers of our children who are not being tried in court. It seems that the British government looks at black people with the same disposable nature as Colston did when he threw 19,000 Africans overboard his ships. Racism is very much alive in Britain and the removal of these statues is only the beginning of this purge.

The protests in Bristol are part of the global uprising against police brutality and systemic racism, sparked by the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis, United States. As a result of the killing, the Western world is seeing its biggest racial civil unrest in history and a call for equality and justice. We urge that all who are taking part in protests remain protected against the Covid-19 pandemic by equipping themselves with masks and gloves.

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