Writing Assignment: The Role of Statues and Monuments
Over the last number couple of years, there has been a growing desire to see controversial statues or monuments removed from their public settings in light of the George Floyd killing and ongoing mistreatment of Black and Indigenous peoples. These statues often represent people who held a position of power, people who may have contributed to the institutionalized racism that persists to this day.
In Bristol, England a statue representing Edward Colston, a known slave trader was torn down and thrown into the harbour.
In the United States, dozens of statues have been removed, either by city councils who wish to protect the statues from harm during protests, or councils who wish to follow the wishes of their constituents, many of whom are BIPOC.
In Victoria, a statue of John A. Macdonald was removed from City Hall. In Montreal, the head of a John A. Macdonald statue was removed in protest.
Recently, a statue of Gassy Jack, the namesake of Gastown was torn down by protesters.
The history of removing statues is complex and has often been carried out by new leaders who seek to remove reminders of the leaders and/or ideologies that have preceded them (Russia, China, Venezuela, Iraq, etc) as an act of power.
What do you think of all of this?
Write a very short, opinion-based paper- 750 words- double spaced-12pt Times New Roman.
Some question to think about:
Who should decide what statues stay up or come down?
What is the defence of keeping controversial and possibly offensive statues up? Is the removal of controversial statues censorship? Why or why not?
Is it different if a statue is torn down in protest, or is done with the state’s permission? How so? What if a new ruling party tears down a beloved historical public monument they feel no affinity towards or are ideologically opposed? For example, what if the Vietnam War Memorial was torn down, or a statue of Martin Luther King?
Is this different to what is happening now? How so?
Are these statues art?
There are many important controversial artworks in galleries and museums throughout the world, often giving valuable challenges to audience beliefs and worldviews. These works are protected. Should the statues that are being torn down be treated with the same consideration as controversial artworks? What makes them different?
What are statues used for? What do you suggest to put in their place? What/who would you like to monumentalize/memorialize?
Give your own opinion. I want to hear your voice. Try to integrate some or all of these questions into your writing. Do not number, or write in point form. Make an argument. Be persuasive.
Be precise in your language. This isn’t a history paper- I don’t want you to spend time telling me about specific instances of statues coming down, unless it relates directly to your argument and you do so in one or two sentences only. This is about you and your opinion.
You will need to do some research. Please submit footnotes and/or works cited (you can use MLA or Chicago Style, this is up to you). You will be referencing some articles in your work. Not submitting your sources is plagiarism, and you will be docked marks, or receive a O grade.