Colston statue: Dr Rao gives the arguments for why monuments to racists ‘need to go’

Colston statue Bristol

Protests are currently taking place all over the world in support of the Black Lives Matter campaign. From Minnesota to London, Amsterdam to Berlin, crowds of people are calling for freedom, justice and equality for black people across the globe following the brutal murder of George Floyd.

Protests in Bristol, UK, have made the news in recent days after a statue of Edward Colston, a man who was involved with the slave trade in the 1700s, was pulled down by protestors. Once the statue had been toppled from its plinth, it was subsequently thrown into the docks– no mean feat given that it’s made of bronze.

Many high-profile people have spoken out in support of the toppling of the Colston statue, including SOAS alumni David Lammy.

Dr. Rahul Rao, senior lecturer in Politics at SOAS, no stranger to the complex issues raised by statues of racists, also praised efforts of the Bristol protestors.

He then proceeded to explain his reasonings, and to say a thing or two on the subject of racist monuments.

This is not the first time Dr. Rao has spoken about the politics of statues.

Rao reminds us that it’s important to think about the multiple contexts a statue may have – not to mention the cost of erecting one, and who’s paying.

But do we still have a duty to memorialise these people? Or have the Bristol protestors got the right idea?

Take a look at Dr. Rao’s Twitter thread for further reading suggestions.

Dr. Rahul Rao is a senior lecturer in Politics at SOAS.

Featured image: Bedminster Fire Station.

Share this post