Should we now erase our history?

Letters to the Editor

Should we now erase our history?

Friday, June 12, 2020

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Dear Editor,

I declare that I am a history enthusiast and I join others who hold the view that if you do not know about your past you cannot shape your future.

In the midst of the protests about George Floyd, attention has turned to colonisation, slavery, and racism. There are now calls to remove statues, monuments, and plaques from the public domain and to rename roads, among other things. Some radical voices would incite others to destroy historic buildings, monuments, and infrastructure, suggesting they are symbols of evil.

Jamaica experienced 468 years of colonisation and slavery. Were we to commence changing the names of places and removing monuments, etc, what cost would that be to taxpayers? We would have to start by renaming some of our parishes, Manchester, Trelawny; many of our towns and villages; and a great many of our communities and roads.

We have opened Port Royal to visitors and have been seeking to have it declared a United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site. A lot of wicked people were there.

We see Falmouth as an important Georgian historic site and tourist destination. A cruise ship pier is there. Should we now bulldoze it, as the people who lived there owned slaves?

Does Spanish Town no longer have any value because it was the seat of the colonial government?

I think we need to take a few deep breaths and engage in a rational discussion about our history and its value. We need more voices in the discussion and greater public awareness. We cannot erase history. It is what was. We emerged from it. It is our story. We should preserve it, learn from it, benefit from it, and write new chapters.

Marcia Thomas

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