In light of the recent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Tony McDade at the hands of police officers, many celebrities are using their voice to take a stand. One of these celebrities is Taylor Swift, who called out racist monuments in her home state of Tennessee in a passionate Instagram post. Taylor Swift's statement about Confederate statues proves she's a true ally for change.
On Friday, June 12, Swift posted a statement on Instagram, admonishing Tennessee for its Confederate monuments of Edward Carmack and Nathan Bedford Forrest. "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," she wrote in her description. Swift continued, "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."
Swift's statement specifically called out two Confederate monuments that are particularly offensive. "As a Tennessean, it makes me sick that there are monuments standing in our state that celebrate racist historical figures who did evil things," she said. "Edward Carmack and Nathan Bedford Forrest were DESPICABLE figures in our state history and should be treated as such."
Swift continued, "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," she wrote. Swift told her followers, "FYI, he was a white supremacist newspaper editor who published pro-lynching editorials and incited the arson of the office of Ida B. Wells." Wells, she said, is the one who deserves a monument for her work in civil rights and journalism.
"Replacing his statue is a waste of state funds and a waste of an opportunity to do the right thing," Swift said, criticizing the state's plans to replace the monument that was damaged in protests.
"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." Swift is referring to Forrest's massacre at the Battle of Fort Pillow in 1864, in which he unjustly killed Union soldiers — the majority of them Black men — after they'd already surrendered.
The Lover singer continued, "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 the 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." Swift finished with a powerful call to action: "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."
Swift also posted the thread to her Twitter account, as well as an ealier post calling out racial injustice on Tuesday, June 9:
"Racial injustice has been ingrained deeply into local and state governments," she wrote, "and changes MUST be made there." The singer's allyship with the Black Lives Matter movement has been loud and clear, and she has also continued to advocate for mail-in voting for the 2020 election. "In order for policies to change, we need to elect people who will fight against police brutality and racism of any kind," Swift said.
Although Swift was criticized for her silence during the 2016 presidential election, it's clear the singer is dedicated to using her voice and platform to help amplify important movements now.