Toppling white supremacy. I have to admit I was cautiously optimistic when protests and other acts of resistance sprang up across the nation this past month. Mainly, I was worried that the people’s energy would fizzle and things would go back to business as usual, but it hasn’t, and that’s even more encouraging.
It’s more encouraging that people have begun to destroy symbolic relics of a racist past. I watched in awe and admiration as people, both young and old, topple statues of white supremacists such as Columbus and Caesar Rodney. These statues are an affront to black life and allowing them to remain would be akin to erecting a statue of Adolf Hitler in Germany. After all, Hitler was to the Jewish people what Columbus was to Native Americans. But I want you all to dig deeper, because the struggle has only just begun. What I’m about to say is heavy, and it should incite, not only your passion, but your anger and rage, and it should motivate you to complete your mission.
If Columbus and Hitler are historic equals, we must ask ourselves who was our Columbus, who was our Hitler? Anybody who worked to maintain, foster, or strengthen the slave industry is just as blameworthy as them. Slavery was just as much as genocide as the Holocaust. Still, the faces and names of countless slave owners and white supremacists are on our money, schools, and places of business. People celebrate Abraham Lincoln as a champion for black progress. Well, we often forget that on several occasions he gave speeches reassuring his supporters that the Negro race would never be equal to the white race.
In toppling these statues, you are effectively toppling the ideal of white supremacy, and that is such a bold and heroic step forward. But when something is removed, it must also be replaced. So don’t simply remove white supremacy. Replace it; replace it with an ideology that reflects your vision and values. It isn’t enough to defend yourself against the status quo; you must move aggressively against it. Replace the hate and division with love and unity. We all deserve better.
In struggle, my name is Sergio Hyland. You can follow me on Instagram at @uptownserg.