Sheffield BLM criticise calls for statue of white anti-slavery group
‘The last thing we need is white councillors proposing to erect more white statues’
Sheffield Black Lives Matter organisers have slammed a suggestion from Sheffield councillors to erect a statue in honour of Sheffield’s Female Anti-Slavery Society.
Although the society was the first group in the country to campaign for the immediate abolition of slavery, some have criticised the councillors for wanting a statue of an all-white organisation.
Me and @Soph__wilson are very keen to make this brilliant idea happen! If you're up for helping out with this please complete this Google form or DM me with any other thoughts / ideas you might have on this topic! https://t.co/hr2YiDEmOK https://t.co/vAaBzBa1Xh
— Cllr Ben Miskell (@benmiskell) June 7, 2020
Black Lives Matter organisers in Sheffield said: “We are profoundly disappointed and in disbelief by the suggestions of a couple of Labour Sheffield city councillors to erect a statue as a way of showing action against the continued inequalities faced by Black communities across the city.
“Black communities in Sheffield are subjected to areas which have poorer access to education, schools, housing, healthcare, clean air quality, cultural venues, libraries and public services.
“Black young people in Sheffield are less likely to have access to opportunities and secure employment. Black families are more likely to be affected by government cuts and austerity.
“The #BlackLivesMatter movement was founded to establish meaningful change. The last thing we need is white councillors proposing to erect more white statues.”
Dr Muna Abdi, a lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University, also expressed her disapproval for the statue.
She tweeted: “Instead of pats on the back, can we commit to meaningful change in the city? When there is such socioeconomic and racial disparities in the city, I hardly think a statue is what we need.”
Yep this is true… but I'm not sure how I feel about having an all White female group statue.
Instead of pats on the back, can we commit to meaningful change in the city? When there is such socioeconomic & racial disparities in the city, I hardly think a statue is what we need.
— Dr Muna Abdi #BlackLivesMatter (@Muna_Abdi_Phd) June 7, 2020
Responding to the criticisms, Councillor Ben Miskell said: “A statue or mural may be appropriate, but what people seem to be saying is that it needs to be educative & focus on the black community – not just white women who pushed for the abolition of slavery.
“It’s also important to say that this is a tiny aspect of the change that is needed. We need urgent steps in this city to addresses the socioeconomic & racial disparities that are at the core of demands made by protesters on Saturday.”
You can read the full statement from Sheffield BLM organisers here.