Just One Q with Dr. Melissa Horne Educational Podcast with Guest Dr. Mekala Audain

Monuments and Moving Forward | Dr. Mekala Audain

Statues and monuments: Tributes to history or glorification of oppression?

Using the example of statues and monuments commemorating the Confederacy, Dr. Mekala Audain shares concrete ways to dismantle the relics of oppression and inequality that continue to exist in our workplaces. By recognizing protests against monuments are less about physical statues themselves and more about historical and societal context, your organization will be able to better identify your own problematic policies and practices and work towards sustainable change.

Habits take time to break, and your own developed implicit or explicit biases are no different. Discomfort or anxiety related to the dismantling of statues or renaming of certain landmarks need to be addressed directly in order to progress as a society.

Although the existence of statues commemorating the Confederacy might not seem like they impact your personal life experience, on a greater scale they symbolize and glorify oppression and white supremacy.

The removal of these monuments means we are collectively headed toward a new, more inclusive future. The pathway forward includes people who look differently and think differently than you. Don’t be left behind because you refuse to adapt. 

Dr. Mekala Audain is an Associate Professor in the History Department at the College of New Jersey, where she teaches African-American History courses. After providing insight into why individuals may feel uncomfortable with ongoing changes to statues and monuments, she uses it as a metaphor for confronting workplace inequalities. 

In order to collectively progress, Dr. Audain suggests that we must first:

  • Acknowledge policies and practices in our own workplaces that are perpetuating inequality
  • Reach out to coworkers and to learn more about the barriers they’re facing individually
  • Investigate the root causes of personal feelings of anxiety or discomfort related to your company’s diversification

It’s not just about the statue you’re used to walking past on your way to work. It’s about understanding how we continue to contribute to oppressive systems of the past by glorifying problematic behaviours. Take the steps necessary to identify the “monuments” in your own workplace that need to come down.


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Dr. Mekala Audain

The College of New Jersey

Dr. Mekala Audain is an Associate Professor in the history department at The College of New Jersey, where she teaches African American history courses. She earned her PhD in history from Rutgers University–New Brunswick. She is currently writing a book about fugitive slaves from Louisiana and Texas who escaped to Mexico between 1804 and 1865.


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See how easy it is to activate soft skills in your organization. Soft skills training on 3 key topics: DEI, Leadership, and Collaboration.