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“Re-Addressing History – Statues, Sports Teams & Naming” – HAT Forum

The Humanist Association of Toronto

Every Saturday we meet to discuss a topic decided upon the previous week. These are topics of humanist interest, from a humanist perspective.

This week’s topic is: “Re-Addressing History – Statues, Sports Teams & Naming”

Due in large part to the current zeitgeist or protest and change emanating from the United States but sweeping the globe, those pushing for change in how we publicly present ourselves, our culture and our history have gained traction a few times in the past 50 years. Statues have come down by unilateral and democratic action. Sports teams are re-considering their traditional team names and branding. In myriad ways, there is an appetite for the conversation surrounding how historical figures are currently and should be portrayed like no other time. Many questions are open for debate.

How vital to social progress are the issues of the various presentations of culture and history up on the block to be changed? Are they substantive or more window dressing?

Is the wider Black Lives Matter movement in danger of winning the statues and naming battles but having the questions of real cultural change yet again deferred? Is this spending of political capital a wise choice?

In the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s 94 Calls to Action, there are whole sections devoted to Reconciliation Education, Commemoration and Museums and Archives designed to redress how our shared and transmitted histories have denigrated our Indigenous communities. Do these calls to action mirror the current calls from other minority communities? If so, how can they be ignored?

As is oft-quoted (but not reliably attributed to any one originator) “History is written by the victors”, meaning those alive and with the power to make theirs the side of justice and right will establish the record. Is it the place of society to establish a powerful mythology and narrative to create group cohesion and a national character (traditional) or can we move to a more nuanced view of our history?

What are the benefits and drawbacks of a zero-based historical re-assessment where every figure and episode is available to be reviewed and potentially left out of the public curriculum on all levels?

Some interesting source articles:

Meet our diverse group, trade perspectives in a free and open forum and learn from others as they learn from you!

BTW: don’t be concerned if there are not many RSVP’s. Many HAT members attend regularly but don’t sign up on Meetup. Our online meetings have been very popular with 20-30 attendees.

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