California has a racist past. But removing monuments sparks debate about how to reflect an ugly history
racist past. But removing monuments sparks debate about how to reflect an ugly history
Every November for years, a yellow blindfold had been placed over the eyes of the bronze Prospector Pete statue that sits prominently on the Cal State Long Beach campus.
An act designed to make clear that the school was not blind to the brutality inflicted on thousands of indigenous Americans during the California gold rush.
This year, however, top administrators announced that they planned to retire the mascot.
And move the statue to a less prominent place on campus, a soon-to-be-built alumni center.
Amid a sweeping reappraisal of California’s history has come the growing acknowledgment that racism is at the heart of the state’s
founding: White settlers flooded the region in the mid-1800s looking for riches, and native Californians.
Along with Asian and Mexican laborers — became the victims of discrimination and violence that presaged how minority groups would be treated for decades to come.
“We’re connected to the past whether we like it or not, and that strand is really fragile and fascinating,”
said USC history professor William Deverell.
Who is wary of the idea that commemorative statues should be hidden away.
California’s past, he said, should be discussed, “scrutinized and put on the scales of justice.”