Simon Fraser University: Remove Ghandi's Statue

Simon Fraser University: Remove Ghandi's Statue

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On June 2, 2020, SFU released a statement titled “SFU Stands in Solidarity Against Racism: Statement from the President.” This address stated clearly that it was our "responsibility not only to condemn discriminatory behaviour but also to take action to support inclusion for all." ​ ​​With that being said, we find it questionable that some of the individuals depicted in the artwork around SFU's campuses have failed to practice non-discriminatory behaviour throughout their lifetimes. Specifically, the focus being on Gandhi, as depicted in the bust located at the Peace Square at Burnaby campus.

It is quite a regressive step for SFU to promote an individual that carried anti-black beliefs while reminding others of their "responsibility to combat racism." Gandhi is commonly labelled as India's greatest peacekeeper. However, the fact that he was a racist individual who embodied anti-black views, cannot go overlooked. Gandhi spent 21 years in South Africa. His racial prejudice towards Black individuals was made evident in his writings throughout that period. ​His diatribe was also written in his newspaper 'The Indian Opinion'.​ ​Gandhi was focused on having Africans treated inferiorly, and he did not seek universal equality.

The following quotes are from Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi (CWMG).​

Sept. 24, 1903: “We believe as much in the purity of race as we think they do... We believe also that the white race of South Africa should be the predominating race.” — Vol. 3, p. 256.

Mar. 7, 1908: “Kaffirs are as a rule uncivilized – the convicts even more so. They are troublesome, very dirty and live almost like animals.... The reader can easily imagine the plight of the poor Indian thrown into such company!” — Vol. 8, p. 199.

Dec. 2, 1910: “Some Indians do have contacts with Kaffir women. I think such contacts are fraught with grave danger. Indians would do well to avoid them altogether.” — Vol. 10, p. 414

Dec. 15, 1904: “Under my suggestion, the Town Council must withdraw the Kaffirs from the Location. About this mixing of the Kaffirs with the Indians, I must confess I feel most strongly. I think it is very unfair to the Indian population.” — Vol. 3, p. 429

'Kaffir' was a derogatory term that Gandhi used towards the Black individuals in South Africa.3

These quotes are only a small selection of Gandhi's documented hatred. Nonetheless, it is one thing to commemorate the life of a so-called "peace-keeper" but it is another to have a statue of Gandhi displayed on campus while being aware of the fact that he intensively despised Black individuals.

Currently, people around the world are seeking revolutionary change by supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. The goal is to reform a racist system that has been put into place for hundreds of years. Therefore, it is our duty as a collective SFU community, to show our support by taking on this initiative. We must take action, and remove this monument that lies within the grounds of our school.

Gandhi’s bust symbolizes hate and discrimination towards Black individuals and his statue has no place at an institution that is dedicated to creating a “diverse, equitable and inclusive community.”  ​Displaying this statue at SFU shows our support for the things he stood for, which include his racist beliefs. The bust of Gandhi must be taken down so all individuals at SFU can truly feel “welcome, safe and accepted.”  ​This statue is an insult to us, our student body, and to those who stand against racism.