#Repost @_tejucole (@get_repost)
Theodore Roosevelt sits astride a horse, in heroic pose, ten feet high. To his right is a Native American man. To his left is an African American man. Both are in a condition of servitude—he rides their servitude as he rides his horse. The statue group was made by James Earle Fraser in 1939, and dedicated in 1940. And there it is, in one of New York City's most visible public places, in front of one of the world's most visited museums.
I have always hated it especially. Every time I'm at the American Museum of Natural History, I am enraged by the sight of the thing. I have never quite believed my eyes. Our people have tried to draw attention to it, they have tried to oppose it, but have been met only with silence or condescension. But the things we are forced to see and venerate do matter. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Five years ago, the museum's defense was as follows: "It belongs to an art historical tradition of equestrian statuary and it was meant by the artist to depict exploration." Watch out for those words "art historical tradition"—that's how you know grown-ups are talking!
But perhaps now is the moment. Perhaps now the statues, even the ones here, will properly run into trouble, unless white New Yorkers insist on maintaining the fiction that racism is something that only happened in the south, that racist heroes are only lauded in the nighted south.
Teddy Roosevelt, New York governor, American president, was a gifted naturalist and a committed eugenicist, roles that are not terribly far apart. He once said, "I don’t go so far as to think that the only good Indians are dead Indians, but I believe nine out of 10 are, and I shouldn’t like to inquire too closely into the case of the 10th." Among the variety of Africans he encountered during his journey of "exploration," he described some as "ape-like naked savages."
Perhaps now's a good time to face it. Time to give up the fathers, certainly time to give up the most vicious ones. Place them in storage basements now, right now, or push your luck and watch them suffer worse fates.
"God gave Noah the rainbow sign. No more water but fire next time