Taylor Swift has joined worldwide calls for monuments to racist historical figures to be removed, specifically targeting those in her home state, Tennessee. “As a Tennessean, it makes me sick,” she writes in a recent Instagram post, about the statues still standing in the state capitol.
The singer goes on to point out specific monuments, such as that of Nathan Bedford Forrest: “the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan who, during the Civil War, massacred dozens of black Union soldiers.”
“Taking down statues isn’t going to fix centuries of systemic oppression, violence and hatred that black people have had to endure,” Swift adds, “but it might bring us one small step closer to making ALL Tennesseans and visitors to our state feel safe – not just the white ones.”
“We need to retroactively change the status of people who perpetuated hideous patterns of racism from ‘heroes’ to ‘villains.’ And villains don’t deserve statues.”
Taylor Swift’s call to remove these monuments echoes the effort of Black Lives Matter activists worldwide. Statues of figures including Christopher Columbus and Jefferson Davis – president of the pro-slavery Confederate States – have been toppled in the US during nationwide anti-racism protests.
In the UK, a statue of the English slave trader Edward Colston was thrown in Bristol harbour June 7, and a monument to Churchill was painted with a message calling him a racist. This weekend, far-right groups have gathered in London to “defend” such statues from being defaced.