Jen Reid's iconic image in support of Black Lives Matter creates a statue of new liberty

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Jen Reid's iconic image in support of Black Lives Matter creates a statue of new liberty

The Background

A few weeks back we saw what seemed to be overnight outrage take over the world, but what I knew to be a brewing volcano of tension which was bound to spill over.

With the unfortunate and horrific killing of a Black man, George Floyd, at the hands of the police – as well as the murders of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Shukri Abdi and Belly Mujinga #SayTheirNames – protests erupted around the world in support of Black and brown lives.

With these protests taking place, we also began to see anger spill over into other parts of society, in which injustice reigns, including the pulling down and desecration of statues of alleged racists and slave traders. Statues that for a long time towered in taunting celebration of the people they oppressed. 

The one in question happened to be the statue of slave trader Edward Colston in the docks of Bristol.

The Big Idea

On the day of the protests, in which the Edward Colston statue was pulled down and drowned in the docks, demonstrator Jen Reid, full of triumph of what had just happened, climbed on the empty plinth and raised her fist in a defiant symbol of solidarity for BLM. 

That night the image trended across the world.

What They Did

A few weeks later we saw the raising of a sculpture in the likeness of Jen Reid, immortalising the act that made history.

Created by Marc Quinn and dubbed “A Surge of Power”, the statue was the first time a black woman in the UK had been encapsulated in a real, influential and Statue of Liberty-esque way. 

From her curly hair to her powerful posture, it may be the first time we’ve witnessed a Black woman in Britain portrayed in such a dynamic way, rather than a stance of servitude.

The Review

I am increasingly starting to believe Elon Musk’s theory that we are in some sort of weird simulated game. Every week of 2020 feels like an entirely new saga filled with affairs, aliens and apocalypses that take the world by storm and then is forgotten by Monday and replaced by more mayhem and scandals.

Although it comes with positives (because I for sure want to forget a good 40 percent of 2020 so far and we are only in July), a few weeks back I remember feeling a huge lump in my throat that the movements and protests taking place, like everything else, would be forgotten.

As soon as the hashtags left everyone’s trending topics and pints could be pulled again, I truly felt that the calls for change would simply be lost – and that filled me with fear.

Seeing this statue raised has renewed my hope that weeks, months, and years later we will all still be thinking of campaigns and stunts and lifelong lessons that stand up to the status quo and creates the real change that we want to see.

The feeling it gave me to finally see someone like me being celebrated in statue form is one that will stay with me for a long time. Someone brave, someone bold, someone with the same kinky curly hair as me, the same skin as me, the same drive and need for change. 

In Hindsight

It was a tad disappointing to see that only 24 hours later, the local council took it down and moved it to a museum. However, I’m not sure I mind as for the 24 hours the statue was up it did everything it needed to do, and more.

My score out of five, is a ten.

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