I have not been involved in the Rhodes Must Fall movement and therefore cannot speak for those behind the recent campaign to remove Rhodes’ statue from Oriel College. However, Wilfred Attenborough’s letter in the last issue of Oxford Today compelled me to write.
Mr Attenborough makes the analogy that those behind this most recent campaign are like ‘an unrepresentative group... [campaigning] fanatically for the removal of... reminders of the colonial enslavement of ancient Britons and Anglo-Saxon English’. This comparison is symptomatic of a lack of understanding towards the struggles that Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) students face at Oxford University and in universities around the world.
Many of these students are the direct descendants of those enslaved, exploited and mistreated in the building of the British Empire. The overwhelming majority will have experience of overt and covert forms of discrimination prevalent in our society. They are confronted with reminders all over the University of a painful colonial legacy which continues to affect their lives (and the lives of their families) on a daily basis. To compare them to a long-dead civilisation which has distant relevance to our modern society is spurious at best.