Politicians paint murals, but protesters make genuine change and real history.


Give ’em time, and we’ll have statues of automobiles. I volunteer to be first in line when it comes to bringing those symbols down.

Go Ahead and Destroy That Racist Statue (and Then the System Too), by Jillian Steinhauer (The Nation)

While politicians are painting murals in lieu of undertaking real change, protesters are making history by pulling down symbols of white supremacy.

On June 9, after a week and a half of large, daily Black Lives Matter protests in New York City that began as part of a national uprising in response to the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that he was taking action: He would name a street in each of the five boroughs after Black Lives Matter and paint the name of the movement on those roads. The decision came days after Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser received widespread attention for turning a section of 16th Street NW across from the White House into Black Lives Matter Plaza, with the phrase painted in 50-foot yellow letters on the pavement. Meanwhile, a short way down the National Mall, Democratic members of Congress, most of them white, showed up at the Capitol on June 8 wearing kente stoles. They knelt for eight minutes and 46 seconds—the same amount of time that Officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck—before entering their chambers to introduce the Justice in Policing Act of 2020.

Politicians around the country are performing. They’re trying to show their constituents that they’re working on the problem of white supremacy in ways big and small. They’re using gestures to attempt to broadcast a message—but one that is ultimately hollow. As Shannon Keating put it recently in BuzzFeed News, it amounts to “performative absurdity from powerful people who’ve long avoided real accountability for causing or excusing Black suffering” …