Taylor Swift has no interest in preserving and protecting statues of racist leaders. In a lengthy Twitter thread posted Friday, the singer condemned several “racist” monuments in her home state of Tennessee.
As protests have erupted across the country in support of Black Lives Matter, demanding justice for black Americans murdered by police, statues of various racist figures, most of them Confederate leaders, have toppled. As a result, a debate has begun to rage regarding these monuments’ historical significance as some states vow to repair and replace them—despite the violence and bigotry they represent.
“Taking down statues isn’t going to fix centuries of systemic oppression, violence and hatred that black people have had to endure,” Swift wrote, “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.”
As a Tennessee native, Swift wrote at the top of her thread, “it makes me sick that there are monuments standing in our state that celebrate racist historical figures who did evil things.”
Among those figures, she said, are Edward Carmack and Nathan Bedford Forrest.
Tennessee’s state government has vowed to replace the toppled statue of white supremacist publisher and politician Edward Carmack, who among other things wrote pieces in support of lynching and incited a mob that burned the office of newspaper writer Ida B. Wells, who had written pieces opposing lynching.
As Swift put it, it’s Wells who “actually deserves a hero’s statue for her pioneering work in journalism and civil rights.” Replacing Carmack’s statue, she added, “is a waste of state funds and a waste of an opportunity to do the right thing.”
Bedford Forrest, Swift wrote, “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.” She then shared a link to a story published today by The Daily Beast on the Nathan Bedford Forrest Equestrian Statue, perhaps the most hideous Confederate state ever.
“His statue is still standing and July 13th is ‘Nathan Bedford Forrest Day,’” Swift continued. “Due to social pressure, the state is trying to overrule this, and Tennesseans might no longer have to stomach it. Fingers crossed.”
For years, Swift avoided using her platform for overtly political causes. Lately, however, she’s become more outspoken, particularly on issues involving white supremacy. This might have something to do with the fact that for years, some on the alt-right have tried to co-opt her as a symbolic “Aryan goddess.” At this point, however, Swift’s views have been made loud and clear.
“We need to retroactively change the status of people who perpetuated hideous patterns of racism from ‘heroes’ to ‘villains,’” Swift wrote Friday. “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,” she concluded, “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.”