Damnatio Memoriae: Symbolic Victories & The Culture War Distract Us From Real Progress

The death of George Floyd gave rise to a civil rights movement more powerful and wider in scope than any most of us have experienced in our lifetime. Millions of Americans have taken to the streets to demand police reform and other measures to end the institutional racism that seems to imbue virtually every area of public life. Institutions from high schools to Walmart are being forced to take a long, hard look at their own role in institutional racism. In homes and on social media, necessary conversations about institutional racism are taking place; books about racism are dominating the New York Times bestseller list; white people are waking up. In recent weeks, protesters have called for removing Confederate monuments, and in some cases protesters have torn them down. Statues of Jefferson and Washington, our slave-owning founding fathers, are on the chopping block. In a recent tweet, writer and civil rights activist Shaun King called for the removal of statues, murals, and stained glass windows portraying white Jesus to be removed, calling them a “gross form [of] white supremacy,” and “tools of propaganda.”