Queen Elizabeth’s Death Ignites Colonialism Debate

By Lauren Victoria Burke
NNPA Newswire Contributor

With the death of Queen Elizabeth II at 96, tributes and reflection have been broadcast and written on. Her length of time in the spotlight was a contributing factor.

Queen Elizabeth’s time as the reigning monarch of England was 70 years and 214 days. It was the longest reign of any British monarch. Elizabeth had become a fixture in popular culture and a constant in the lives of many in Great Britain, whether in the background or as a much seen figure in the news.

But with Elizabeth’s death came a discussion around the meaning of the monarchy and whether history can separate the individual from what they represent in the position they hold. Many viewed Queen Elizabeth as a grandmotherly figure who transcended politics and was a symbol of continuity in a rapidly changing world.

But for individuals whose families endured hardships under British colonial rule the moments around the Queen’s death could not pass without critique. Some viewed Elizabeth as a sovereign ruling over all of the decisions made by England, even before 1952 when Elizabeth took the throne.

“I heard the chief monarch of a thieving raping genocidal empire is finally dying. May her pain be excruciating,” wrote Professor Uju Anya on twitter as news of the Queen’s death overtook the airways and social media.

“If anyone expects me to express anything but disdain for the monarch who supervised a government that sponsored the genocide that massacred and displaced half my family and the consequences of which those alive today are still trying to overcome, you can keep wishing upon a star,” wrote Professor Anya added in a second message.

Carnegie Mellon issued a relatively rare rebuke of a Professor from an institution they’re employed at. Even rarer: Twitter removed Anya’s first message from the platform. Many questioned the precedent for that and wondered what twitter rule was violated.

“We do not condone the offensive and objectionable messages posted by Uju Anya today on her personal social media account. Free expression is core to the mission of higher education, however, the views she shared absolutely do not represent the values of the institution, nor the standards of discourse we seek to foster.

Carnegie Mellon University, a private research university based in Pittsburgh.

“Today, there is a great controversy for this statement for survivors of British colonial rule. Her university publicly chastised this statement. Benjamin Franklin refused to address British demands for compensation for American Tories recounting the atrocities of the British,” wrote economist William Spriggs on Sept. 8.

Though there was discussion on many networks, starting with Roland Martin’s BlackStar Network, by the middle of the week, many watching the ceremonies as Elizabeth’s coffin traveled from Scotland to London reviewed her seven decades in the public eye differently.

“She meant different things to different people,” said royal correspondent Zain Asher, who is British Nigerian, on CNN during the ongoing coverage.

“Today, I paid my respects and signed a book of condolence at the British Embassy in Mogadishu — in memory of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. During this time of grieving, I extend my deepest sympathies to His Majesty King Charles III and the Royal Family,” stated the Prime Minister of Somalia Hamza Abdi Barre.

As the days passed after the Queen’s death there appeared to be a general consensus that respect, historic analysis and ceremony can go hand and hand. Several of the Black royal watchers in journalism, such as Zain Asher, blended commentary on the impact of British colonial history, Elizabeth’s specific cultural connections and the complex issues around why some revere the monarchy while others do not.

Only time can tell whether Queen Elizabeth ll’s son, King Charles III, will be able to successfully reconcile those issues as well.

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