Justin Timberlake is adding his voice to the chorus of those calling for the removal of Confederate monuments. The Tennessee native took to Instagram to share his support for the ongoing process of tearing down tributes to Southern secession and slavery.
"A lot of you know I’m from Tennessee ...a state that happens to be the home of many many confederate monuments," Timberlake wrote in a post he shared Monday. "I’ve been listening closely to the ongoing debates about what to do with these statues -- and I really want to take a minute to talk about this."
"When we protest racism in America, people think we are protesting America itself. Why is that the reaction? Because America was built by men who believed in and benefitted from racism. Plain and simple," the singer continued in his caption.
The post included a video created by the ACLU discussing the history of Confederate statues in America, their links to Jim Crow–era segregation and racism, and the painful legacy that they represent.
Timberlake went on to rebuke one common argument against the removal of the monuments, which is that the Civil War is "all in the past" and that the statues only represent states' heritage.
"Let’s be clear... those men who proudly owned and abused Black people are STILL celebrated all over the country," he wrote. "There are roughly 1,848 confederate statues of in the US. More than half are in The South, and it’s not acceptable. No one should be protecting the legacies of confederate leaders and slave owners."
The artist argued that, if America wants to move forward with unity, "These monuments must come down." He also stressed that simply removing the monuments and tributes "does not erase our country’s vile history of oppression."
"Removing them is a symbol of respect for Black people in America and it’s a step towards progress and actual equality for all," Timberlake explained, before urging his fans to watch the video, get involved, and to "learn more about the history of the monuments in your own states and counties."
In the wake of the ongoing nationwide protests against police brutality and systemic racism, there has been increased pressure by activists to remove monuments, statues and plaques honoring and commemorating the Confederacy and Confederate political figures.
Many statues have been removed, either by protesters tearing them down or city and state officials having them removed and placed in storage. Additionally, the Confederate flag has been banned from NASCAR races, and Mississippi passed a bill in June removing the Confederate symbol from its state flag.