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We can’t paint over our racist past | Letters

the guardian - Fri, 20/07/2018 - 19:27
Manchester university students defacing a Kipling poem draws mixed responses from readers

I read the article about how at the University of Manchester the students painted over the Kipling mural and replaced it with a Maya Angelou poem (Report, 20 July). How disappointing. It seems England is following the same path as the US where our 19th- and early 20th-century racist past is concerned. We cannot go back and undo what was done but we can learn from them. Whitewashing the past, pretending it did not happen is not how we learn.

In the US we are also selective in what monuments etc we tear down. Statues of Robert E Lee and other southerners must be torn down immediately, but the golden statue of a northern general in New York’s Central Park must not be touched, even though William T Sherman turned to the same scorched-earth policies against the Native Americans after the civil war in one of our most shameful periods of racism. Then I ask the question why Maya Angelou? Was there not an English poet who would better represent England, or maybe an Indian poet from the same generation as Kipling?
Sonia Romaih
San Diego, California, USA

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