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Slave statue defaced in France, racism strikes yet again

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In another horrifying event, a statue of a black female woman has been defaced with white paint thrown over it. The event took place in the French city of Bordeaux, and was reported as an apparent racism attack by the city officials.

The statue was found to be defaced on 13th September, a Monday morning, but was immediately cleaned and restored to its original state. 

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The bronze statue is of a female slave draped in a shawl and dressed in a long skirt. The consternation imprinted on her face takes one back to the colonial past, a past very much inculcated into the present. The city hall has been discussing possible future steps and looks towards filing a criminal complaint, stating that the attack certainly had malicious intent behind it. 

Modeste Testas was brought up in the city in the 18th Century but was later shipped to the Caribbean island of Hispaniola. There she worked on a sugar plantation. Spending years here, she later moved on to the United States.

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After the passing away of her French owner, she was freed. She then moved back to the western side of Hispaniola – which is modern day Haiti. She lived up to the age of 105 years, long-drawn life of struggle and was commemorated in this statue.

The statue of Testas was inaugurated in the city of Bordeaux in 2019. Current years have seen a rampant increase in statues being destroyed or vandalized.

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The statue was established to celebrate the city’s colonial past as Bordeaux was one of the major slave trading centers that the country had. Steeped in colonial history, this statue is an inglorious reminder of the lessons from that period.

Stephane Gomot, who is the councilor in charge of the heritage, said that if it was indeed proven that racism was the motive behind this atrocious act, it would represent a “very violent attack on everything this statue represents”, including “the memory of people deported by slave traffickers”.

Even in the 21st century, instances of racism continue to exist all throughout the world. The white paint is a cruel reminder that although the world has progressed and taken a step towards removing racism, it is a long journey before the inherent mindset of people actually accepts the reality of considering everyone an equal, in spite of their skin colour. 

While the discourse around racism has expanded, discussions aren’t enough and concrete steps are the only way ahead.

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