Taylor Swift: Take down all of the statues & monuments to ‘despicable’ racists

Guest arrivals at the 2019 Time 100 Gala

I remember when that white supremacist sh-thead killed nine black people at bible study at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in 2015, and the state of South Carolina decided, days later, to remove the Confederate flag from the state buildings. As it was happening, I thought it was too little, too late. But the reaction from the African-American community in SC was so positive, it became a reminder (to me) of the power of symbolism in our everyday lives. Especially here in the South, where CB and I live (not together!), there are those kinds of Confederate symbols, statues and iconography everywhere.

Growing up around those symbols warps you. It warped me. “It’s just a dumb statue,” I would tell myself, “yes it’s awful, but doesn’t matter.” But those dumb statues matter to neo-Nazis and those statues matter to the marginalized people who pass them every day. So now I say: rip them all down. Burn the Treason Flag. Behead every Columbus statue. Dismantle every memorial to slave traders and traitors. Taylor Swift has gotten to that point too. She posted this on her social media on Friday:

As a Tennessean, 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.

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. 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.

[From Taylor Swift’s Twitter]

When I find myself nodding in agreement with Taylor Swift on a regular basis, you know we’re through the looking glass. I have no problem with anything she said, nor do I have a problem with Taylor being the one to say it. This is an area where women like Taylor Swift succeed – she’s using her inherent Karen-ness (or her inherent Darth Susan-ness) for good deeds. She wants to speak to the manager of racism in Tennessee and she’s demanding that the manager of racist statues speak to her concerns immediately. This is called “using your privilege.” And Taylor knows the power of symbolism too. [Insert snake emoji]

Taylor Swift Performs On ABC's Good Morning America

Photos courtesy of Backgrid.

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49 Responses to “Taylor Swift: Take down all of the statues & monuments to ‘despicable’ racists”

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  1. Allz says:

    I’m glad she’s speaking up, and I find nothing wrong with what she said. However, she’s been pretty silent during this movement, just posting a black square and that one tweet to Trump. Which was great, but voting him out is not a solution, just a next step. She cane out with an entire documentary about how she wants to be political and be on the right side of history, meanwhile is pretty silent for the black community, which I guess does not affect her. She’s been silent during pride month too, which was her cause last year. Pride month and BLM are so intertwined too.

    I just don’t feel like giving her props right now when so many of her counterparts are doing so much more. I don’t need to hear her carefully crafted statements, I want her to give her platform to black voices.

    • runcmc says:

      I think many white celebrities have wisely stepped aside and allowed BLACK voices to be amplified. I honestly don’t want to hear much from Taylor Swift these days, and I’m glad we only get her *occasional* posts. If she was shouting the loudest we’d all want her to sit down and listen.

      • Allz says:

        That’s literally what I said though, “I don’t need to hear her carefully crafted statements, I want her to give her platform to black voices.”

        I still think it’s incredibly important for Taylor and other white celebrities to share black voices on their platforms. This is not a moment but a movement, and a sporadic statement is doing much. A continuous sharing of black voices and information like help a lot.

  2. Seraphina says:

    I agree with her. A year or so ago I thought these are just statutes and it helps remind us of the elitists in power and how their system was so wrong. Also, being a history major I am a ardent believer that if we don’t study our past, we are doomed to repeat it. And as a child of immigrant parents and being from NY, I saw the confederate statues as “the losers”.
    BUT, I heard a Virginia Senator speak on the topic and she read from an article that was written when the statues were erected and it was written by a Black man for the first Black paper. Hearing that and reading it for myself, is all it took to change my mind. And let’s be honest, there are no statues of Hitler in Germany. These men were traitors and rebelled against government and glorified a system that gave them power on the backs of others.

  3. Darla says:

    No matter what Taylor does it will never be enough for some. And then some cool girl like Kristin Stewart will make a veiled slam on her and she’ll be applauded by those same people. Like when Stewart made that comment about performative LTBTQ allies. BTW, where is Kristin on this?

    But none of that matters, all that matters is that Swift will reach some young white women. And that will translate into some votes. And that’s all that matters to me. Every little bit helps, and we need a lot of help.

    • Case says:

      Agreed. I wish she’d participated in something like Share the Mic, but I’m glad she’s speaking out and influencing fans to vote. She has proven how powerful her voice is in the past when Tennessee voting registration soared after she encouraged it. She has a lot of power and she’s using it for good. She’s helping.

    • Div says:

      What the f*ck does KStew have to do with this? Like how did this turn into a “let’s go after KStew” post?

      I have no idea if she took a swipe at Taylor, but a lot of LGBTQ people did (so if KStew did, why single her out) over her music video and while I didn’t agree others are entitled to their opinion. By the way, KStew was at the protests in L.A. with some other public figures…it was covered by the tabloids.

      • Darla says:

        Because I felt like it.

        Glad to hear she was at a protest, it’s about time she took some action, any action, rather than booing others who try to.

    • Allz says:

      “No matter what Taylor does it will never be enough for some” I find that stance really weird. Nobody’s perfect, white women especially are (or should be) continuously learning right now. I don’t think too many people are hard on Taylor presently (on the contrary I think they’re stanning her more) but I find it okay to encourage Taylor to do better. She’s the one who wanted to be better than her 2016 self.

      I don’t think many celebrities are doing great right now, and I find it unacceptable. People with huge platforms SHOULD ALWAYS be doing more.

  4. Lily says:

    That is great. Her fans are mainly white and very possibly many young karens to be. She needs to be extra careful not to harm her carreer. Whether others are doing more or not, we shouldn’t pull her down for it. she decided to do the right thing and that is speaking up against racism. I applaud her for it.

  5. Lightpurple says:

    She’s dealing with detailed specifics in her home state, addressed to those who are responsible for doing something about it and have a duty to listen to her and other constituents. Let’s hope they do. But then again, this is the state that sent Marsha Blackburn to the Senate and Marsha’s comments lately have been similar to those of KKK leader.

  6. Nlopez says:

    Bravo Taylor!

  7. Palmasan says:

    Columbus never set foot in the current US territories and never was involved in slave trade (the Queen of Castilla specifically forbid that), so why is he being mixed up with all the others?

    • Elizabeth says:

      Columbus and his group absolutely did enslave indigenous people.

      From Howard Zinn — Columbus had two goals in the Caribbean: to find gold and slaves. Columbus returned home to Spain and came back to the Caribbean with 17 ships and 1,200 men. His men traveled from island to island, taking Indians as captives. In 1495, in a large slave raid, Columbus and his men rounded up 1,500 Arawak men, women, and children, and put them in pens. They selected what they considered the best natives and loaded them onto ships back to Spain. Two hundred died en route. After the survivors were sold as slaves in Spain, Columbus later wrote: “Let us in the name of the Holy Trinity go on sending all the slaves that can be sold.”

    • Elizabeth says:

      Tinker, George E and Mark Freeland. “Thief, Slave Trader, Murderer: Christopher Columbus and Caribbean Population Decline.” Wicazo Sa Review, vol. 23 no. 1, 2008, p. 25-50. Project MUSE, doi:10.1353/wic.2008.0002.

    • Elizabeth says:

      From an Orlando Sentinel Article —
      “Although Ferdinand and Isabella had outlawed Indian slavery in Spain, they approved slavery in their New World colonies in 1503. Two years later, the use of African slaves began in the New World, laying the foundations for a brutal, barbaric system that was to last for centuries.”

      I have lived in a former Spanish colony, the home of an indigenous Pacific people, and I assure you, the Spanish weren’t known for mercy.

    • Lightpurple says:

      Columbus introduced the following to the western hemisphere:

      Bubonic Plague
      Scarlet Fever
      Whooping Cough

      • Kat says:

        That was not intentional though, right? I mainly hate him for the violence including rape and Murder

      • SKF says:

        One small point, I believe syphilis was actually a disease that native Americans gave to the Europeans. One small revenge for all the murder, mayhem, rape, theft and disease unleashed on them by the Europeans.

      • Betsy says:

        @SKF – I believe a much milder, dermatological, non-sexually transmitted form of syphilis was endemic in the Americas. We (the Europeans) brought the much deadlier form to the Americas.

    • Chaine says:

      OMG, read a book. Or at least use Google! This is a translation of a literal quote from Christopher Columbus, “Let us in the name of the Holy Trinity go on sending all the slaves that can be sold” (cited in Resendez, A. (2016). The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America). For more about how Columbus enslaved native Caribbean people and shipped hundreds of them back to Spain, it’s all over the internet or in any modern history textbook…

    • whatWHAT? says:

      “why is he being mixed up with all the others?”

      because he was a violent genocidal maniac? who did enslave people and tortured them for punishment? I mean, read up on Columbus and what a terror he was.

    • pottymouth pup says:

      “Columbus never set foot in the current US territories and never was involved in slave trade”

      which begs the question why does any municipality in the US still have a holiday for him (why did they ever) and why do we have to have public statues of him?

  8. reef says:

    What is happening to Taylor Swift? It’s interesting and bizarre to see. Good for her. I guess.

  9. TIFFANY says:

    I pulled out my parka when I read this on Twitter.

    Wow Taylor. Good on you.

  10. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    This is what we want. We want white women to school other white women. As long as the message is getting out, we shouldn’t care which mouth the white cray receives truth.

  11. Slowsnow says:

    Like Wanda Sykes said, white people need to talk to white people because those white interlocutors don’t listent to someone slightly brown. So if she passes the mic, none of those who should be reading this until the end will.
    I write this with a heavy heart, it’s sad but true.

    • lucy2 says:

      I hope she can do both. Use her platform to speak up (finally) AND use it to amplify others.

    • Betsy says:

      We listen to brown and black voices, all the way to the end. But white voices need to speak up. Sadly, a lot of people just want to be told what to do. Getting rid of the statues of slaveowners, of Columbus, of white supremacists is a small, concrete action tha people can take. It’s not the most important thing in the world, but I think symbolism is still important. “The public narrative a nation creates about what is important is reflected in memorials and monuments. Who is honored, what is remembered, what is memorialized tells a story about a society that can’t be reflected in other ways.

      –Bryan Stevenson, EJI Executive Director“ from the Equal Justice Initiative website.

  12. Sojaschnitzel says:

    I love her for this. Period.

  13. Case says:

    Taylor does her research on specific topics, like this, and is able to speak to them very well. I think it’s helpful that instead of just putting out general statements, she always comes across as well-versed when she speaks about important issues, because she can and will be mocked for speaking out, and should have facts to back up what she’s saying. I think it’s important that when celebrities DO speak out, they know what they’re talking about. Taylor always makes sure she does. I really appreciate that.

    • Lightpurple says:

      And she tends to target specific problems in her own state where they can’t just dismiss her as “Hollywood;” she’s their constituent and she votes.

  14. Otaku fairy says:

    “…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.” This. At best, it sends the message that the trauma caused by and the evil done by those white men doesn’t matter because “Their Legacy!”

  15. Winnie says:

    I live in Nashville and didn’t know before last week that there was a Nathan Bedford Forrest bust up in the capital. It is so gross and embarrassing to our state that it was ever put up. There seems to be a lot of support among legislatures to remove it. I hope they do. Nashville is an incredibly diverse and liberal city in a red state.

    I don’t know a single person who thinks it should stay. No one even knew it was there until the news reported on calls to remove it.

    • amilou says:

      Same. I was Googling it just now because I was only aware of the hideous one that is on private property off the interstate. I was wondering how they could enforce its removal if it sat on private property.

      “The monument was designed by Jack Kershaw, a Vanderbilt University alumnus, co-founder of the League of the South, a white nationalist and white supremacist organization, and a former lawyer to James Earl Ray, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s killer.[3] In the face of public criticism of the installation, Kershaw defended the statue by saying, “Somebody needs to say a good word for slavery.”[3]”


  16. Heather says:

    I can guarantee you the white men who surround/manage Taylor Swift are NOT happy that she’s making these statements. So good on her for doing so! I applaud her.

    • lucy2 says:

      I was wondering that myself, if earlier on when she was apolitical, if she were being advised to do that, or just didn’t care. Maybe both. I’m glad she’s finally getting involved and using her platform (and hopefully some money) for good.
      I bet they aren’t happy, but too bad.

      • amilou says:

        I watched Miss Americana, and it seemed to be the case that she was trying to appease her management (and father). There was a scene of her handlers pleading with her to keep her mouth shut during that time that she first spoke out against Marsha Blackburn/Trump.

      • Betsy says:

        Yep, what @amilou said. At least some of her managers and her dad don’t want her speaking up.

  17. Dawnie says:

    People can and will complain about Taylor Swift all day long regardless of what she does. However, I love that she seems to be going all in to eliminate her racist, homophobic, Trump-supporting fans. It’s lovely to see all of them blowing up her Twitter feed yelling about how she’s sold her soul and they’ll never listen to her again, and it’s lovely to see her just keep trolling them in what seems to be a concerted effort to ensure they don’t listen to her again. I think for someone who got into the business at a young age being warned about the Dixie Chicks, she’s growing and it’s impressive. My former pastor (total redneck) had this creepy crush on her. He blocked me on FB ages ago, but I’d love to see how he’s reacting to finding out his sweet little white girl crush is actually … pretty liberal.

  18. Maida says:

    What’s great about this Taylor Swift post is that:

    She’s speaking very specifically about something in her home state — and making it clear what she thinks should happen. This isn’t some vague “I stand with the protestors” statement.

    She’s addressing the people who hold political power in her state, and using her privileged position to do it.

    She clearly cares more about doing what’s right than about trying to hold onto Trump-supporting fans.

    • Agnes says:

      Yes, concrete goals are more likely to be achieved than vague ideals like World Peace.

  19. Agnes says:

    “She wants to speak to the manager of racism in Tennessee.” LMFAO. Seriously, Karens have to use our inherent high-maintenance peremptoriness for the GOOD and DEMAND not just adequate but excellent customer service. Funny not funny, if white women bitched about the right things we could change the world. Taylor is a new role model.

  20. Moo says:

    Interesting how pretty I find her since she started speaking out. I’m glad she is using her voice to help.

  21. Yunee says:

    What we did in Europe was critically different They took the statues and put them in museums where anyone can get a proper context They also changed street names and stuff like that