The death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, at the hands of police last month in America sparked a wave of protests and a resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement highlighting the injustices black Americans face every day.
But last week, those protests started gaining traction in other countries around the world, too. First out of solidarity with black Americans and then growing to encompass their own grievances regarding systemic racial injustice in their home nations. Local protests in Bristol, England, for example, led to residents toppling the statue of 17th-century slave trader Edward Colston and tossing it into a river.
The thing is, this statue toppling has now renewed calls for other statues and monuments that celebrate people who enabled slavery or other racial injustices to be torn down. Matter of fact, an interactive map called Topple the Racists has been set up that list statues and monuments its creators say need to be considered for removal.
As the map’s creators note, the toppling of the Colston statue was the inspiration for their project:
Topple the Racists is inspired by the direct action taken by Bristolians. Statues are exercises of public adoration. And Edward Colston made his fortune in the slave trade. He was part of a system of mass murder, torture and human suffering. We must learn from, not venerate, this terrible chapter in British colonial history.
But the map’s creators also say the map isn’t a hit list. Rather it’s been created to promote debate around why these statues are still standing and to “shine a light on the continued adoration of colonial icons and symbols.”
“It’s up to local communities to decide what statues they want in their local areas,” the project’s creators go on. “We hope the map aids these much-needed dialogues. Taking down a statue could also include moving it to a museum, for example.”
Right now the map is U.K.-only, but Topple the Racists does allow people to submit suggestions for other statues that should be taken down. In America, the Southern Poverty Law Center estimates there are still 1,747 Confederate symbols standing as of 2019.