Please, people of Pittsburgh, I implore you. Do not topple this statue. At least, not until I drive by it again so I can hug it, take a selfie with it and maybe take it on a date, too. I just hope magical Negroes love chorizo.
No, you don’t remember that at all? Well, it was from a piece I wrote last year on the statue of Stephen Foster that sits in Pittsburgh (between two world-renowned universities, the Carnegie Museum of Art and the main branch of the Carnegie Library) and also happens to be the most racist statue in America.
Of course, calling something the “most” of anything is quite the honor, and the “most racist” anything in America has quite a bit of competition. Like, you could declare a piece of kale “America’s Most Racist Piece of Kale,” but I’m sure someone would be able to counter that claim with a (true) story about a piece of kale that called her a nigger.
But I was (and still am) confident in making that “most racist” determination here, because this statue features 1) a toothless and shoeless black man playing the banjo at a white man’s feet while 2) said white man uses these toothless-Magical Negro tunes as inspiration for songs he makes money off of.
It’s so racist that a part of me wanted the city to keep it up just as a reminder of how racism—and not just polite and subtle racism, but flagrant and violent and absurd and “LOLOLOL OMFG THAT IS RACIST AS SHIT!” racism—is so embedded in our national tapestry that sometimes we don’t even realize it’s there. But Pittsburgh has other plans.
With a deadline nearing for action on a plan to remove and relocate Oakland’s Stephen Foster memorial statue, Mayor Bill Peduto’s office today announced it is “seeking the public’s help in selecting an African American woman to be honored with a statue” at the site.
“There are very few monuments in Pittsburgh dedicated to the many women leaders who have left their mark on the city,” a statement from the mayor and his Task Force on Women in Public Art announced.
“At present, there are no African American women represented,” the statement continued. “As the Stephen Foster statue is set to be removed from its current site in April, the city has a unique opportunity to build something in its place honoring the legacy of African American women and their impressive leadership in Pittsburgh.”
As tempted as I am for this statue to stay up long enough for me to take a selfie with it (I still haven’t), I have to admit that this is ... good news. Extending this honor to one of the many black women who’ve played a vital role in Pittsburgh’s history would be, well, awesome.
Let’s just hope they don’t throw a curveball and choose Stacey Dash.