Taylor Swift Urged Tennessee Leaders To Remove Its Racist Statues In an Emotional Instagram Post

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Today, Taylor Swift let her 134 million Instagram followers know where she stands when it comes to preserving monuments that honor racist figures. Her powerful post comes a few days after finally advocating for the Black Lives Matter movement on Twitter.

“I’m asking the Capitol Commission and the Tennessee Historical Commission to please consider the implications of how hurtful it would be to continue fighting for these monuments,” Swift captioned a lengthy statement on Instagram. “When you fight to honor racists, you show black Tennesseans and all of their allies where you stand, and you continue this cycle of hurt. You can’t change history, but you can change this. 🙏”

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In her post, Swift spoke about how statues celebrating Edward Carmack and Nathan Bedford Forrest, a pair of historical figures with well-documented racist pasts, made non-white visitors of her home state feel unwelcome. She outlined racist acts from both Carmack and Bedford Forrest, which are among several controversial statues to fall around the world during protests after the unjust deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery.

“Taking down statues isn’t going to fix centuries of systemic oppression, violence and hatred that black people have had to endure 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,” she concluded her post. “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.” Swift also shared this message in a thread on Twitter.

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The last time Swift referenced the Black Lives Matter movement, she asked her Twitter followers to register to vote and directed them towards Former President Barack Obama’s Medium article about sustaining the movement’s current momentum. “Racial injustice has been ingrained deeply into local and state governments, and changes MUST be made there,” she wrote. “In order for policies to change, we need to elect people who will fight against police brutality and racism of any kind. #BlackLivesMatter.”

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Swift has drawn criticism from fans for not speaking out about her political beliefs sooner. Most notably, she stayed quiet about endorsing a candidate during the 2016 election, leading to conspiracies that she aligned with white supremacist beliefs. That silence was broken in October 2018 when she announced she’d be supporting Democrat Phil Bredesen in the U.S. Senate race in Tennessee, encouraging her followers to do the same. Her recent documentary Miss Americana also shows the motives behind this moment and shows her express regret over not speaking up sooner. In her essay about turning 30 for ELLE published last March, Swift explained that she was only beginning to educate herself and find her political voice.

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Swift’s full comments can be read below:

“As a Tennesseean, it makes me sick that there are monuments standing in our state that celebrate racist historical figures who did evil things. Edward Carmack and Nathan Bedford Forrest were DESPICABLE figures in our state history and should be treated as such.

Edward Carmack’s statue was sitting in the state Capitol until it was torn down last week in the protests. The state of Tennessee has vowed to replace it. FYI, he was a white supremacist newspaper editor who published pro-lynching editorials and incited the arson of the office of Ida B. Wells (who actually deserves a hero’s statue for her pioneering work in journalism and civil rights). Replacing his statue is a waste of state funds and a waste of an opportunity to do the right thing.

Then we get to this monstrosity. Nathan Bedford Forrest was a brutal slave trader and the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan who, during the Civil War, massacred dozens of black Union soldiers in Memphis. His statue is still standing and July 13th is ‘Nathan Bedford Forrest Day.’ Due to social pressure, the state is trying to overrule this, and Tennesseans might no longer have to stomach it. Fingers crossed.

Taking down statues isn’t going to fix centuries of systemic oppression, violence and hatred that black people have had to endure 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.”

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