Clearly, the people who initially favored the monument were promoting a narrative of white supremacy. Whether the statues’ current proponents hold similar views or not, its continued presence on our campus empowers those who do.
And regardless of racist implications, North Carolina law will keep the monument in place. Therefore, efforts in actualizing change need to target the players with the real power in their decision-making, like the UNC Board of Trustees and the North Carolina General Assembly.
The BOT placed a 16-year moratorium on renaming buildings after changing the name of Saunders Hall to Carolina Hall — a decision reached by mounting pressure from student-led activism. Returning the Carolina community its power to self-title its buildings would be a significant show of solidarity and progress.
The statue was commissioned for the present-day value of $185,443.94 — a sum that alumni could pledge to fundraise (or withhold) for its removal or relocation as a message to the administration in the language it best understands.
And while we’ve spoken against placing all the blame on the chancellor Carol Folt, our administrators would be wise in taking a direct, public stance.
That said, this isn’t the time for fractures to split apart people trying to improve our University’s constituents, present and future. It was heartening to see the student organizations and local community members come together behind one banner to denounce Silent Sam.
However, this monument is just the tip of the iceberg of our University’s social problems and inequalities. We need to direct the attention it has attracted to less literal, bigger-picture battles, like protecting the Center for Civil Rights, affirmative action and campus workers of color.
The issue of Silent Sam will eventually find closure, and we should be the generation of Tar Heels to accomplish that, and more.