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Slavery Statues Down: Can Western Systematic Racism Be Eliminated?

Alwaght – During the anti-racism protests in the US that spread to the other Western countries fast, what was the common feature of the demonstrations was the tearing down of the statues of people whi once were the symbols of slavery in the world. 

In fact, the protests to the murder of George Floyd, a black American, by a police officer in Minneapolis that started about three weeks ago spread substantially since the initial days and took new aspects including removal of the statues of figures known for their slavery in the West in the past centuries. 

In various American cities, the demonstrators tore down the statues that symbolized slavery. As just one example, in Byrd Park in Richmond, Virginal they toppled the statue of Christopher Columbus, the explorer who is said to have discovered America in the 16th century. In addition to Richmond, his statue was toppled in other American cities too.  

Such action was not limited to American cities. The British protestors in Bristol in the southwest of the country removed the statue of a prominent slave dealer using rope and threw it in the river. The statue was Edward Colton’s, of Royal African Company who in the 17th century shipped about 80,000 black men, women, and children to America. 

Even in Belgium, the anti-racism protests ran so high that the authorities in the Belgian city of Antwerp removed a statue of the country’s former monarch Leopold II after it was damaged during anti-racism protests. The monarch belonged to the colonial times. The protestors several times attacked the statue using hard tools and paint sprays. 

Common slavery pain in the West 

It is so fascinating that the anti-racism demonstrations are not limited to the US and their domain covers many of the Western countries, especially in Europe. 

Bringing down the statues of the leaders of the slavery that began in the US very fast swept throw the European countries like France, Britain, and Belgium, demonstrating that the social damages of slavery that now show themselves in the form of racism are not limited to the US, and go beyond including other Western countries especially European countries. 

In fact, racism is a common legacy of Western slavery that now shows itself in the form of demonstration movements led by the colored population. 

Why are the icons and statues toppled? 

The statues and icons that were removed during the protests against racism in the US and European countries all belonged to individuals who in an era were prominent advocates of slavery and laws enshrining it. 

The existence of these statues in the streets bears witness to systematic racism. Just contrary to the claims of Western leaders who argue they fight racism in their countries, such statues in various locations suggest that so far racism has been existing at the highest levels in the western cities and societies. In response, now a protest movement is rising in the face of systematic racism. 

To what extent this anti-racism movement can fight against the Western structural racism depends on the domain and length of the protests. 

Although one step in this struggle is the removal of the statues of slavery advocates in the cities, this anti-racism struggle is not limited to this action as the political structures in the West are fundamentally engaged in racism. To put it differently, although removal of the slavery icons in the West is a considerable move, anti-racism struggle can only be called deeply-rooted if we see a fundamental change in the Western countries’ policies, especially their foreign policy. 

The systematic racism of the West is politically represented by some veto rights held by the Western states in the international organizations like the United Nations Security Council and the International Monetary Fund. While these countries abuse these organizations towards their objectives, elimination of structural racism in these countries is far from reality and realization. 

Therefore, the elimination of racism in the Western world can take place if it leads to deep changes in their home and foreign policy. Otherwise, the continuation of the current policy of the Western government will mean the systematic racism will remain in place.

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