Taking down statues isn't erasing history—it's making history, literally

In a generation or two, kids in history class will be reading about this time period we're living through now. They'll learn about a global uprisings for racial justice in the middle of a pandemic, they'll hear about the specific incidents that sent that spark into a flame, and they'll analyze the significance of the movement to remove statues and monuments that celebrate white supremacy or honor problematic individuals.

Some people claim that removing statues erases history, but the truth is the exact opposite. The entire reason for their removal is that people are finally becoming aware of history that had been erased, through whitewashed history books and glaring omissions in the heroic stories we tell. As a result, people are making history by taking down monuments that symbolize historic erasure.

The history of a nation is essentially the story of its people, and the removal of statues by the people is as much a part of the American story as the individuals and events they were created to honor. It's hard to see in the moment, but this kind of thing is exactly how history is created. In the same way that we middle-aged folks learned about the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War, history students will learn about the history being made now with this movement.


In addition, the idea that removing statues erases history is nonsensical on its face. The fact is we don't learn or study history through statues or monuments. We study history through books, primary documents, first-hand accounts and other documentation. There are no statues of Hitler in Germany, and no one claims that not having them erases the history of the Holocaust. And there are plenty of historical figures we've all learned about who don't have statues erected of them.

A statue is not a history lesson; it's a way of honoring someone. The same goes with naming schools or roads or places after someone. It seems to be long past time to seriously question how and why we venerate historical individuals in general, especially since statues beyond the more clear-cut confederacy figures have begun coming down as well.

In recent weeks, people have toppled statues of genocidal explorer, Christopher Columbus, and founding father and former president Thomas Jefferson, who not only wrote the Declaration of Independence but also raped an enslaved Black woman and didn't free the children he fathered with her until he died. This week, a statue of Teddy Roosevelt in front of a New York museum is being taken down by the museum itself—not so much due to issues with Roosevelt himself, but because the statue has him atop a horse with a Native American man and a Black man flanking him on the ground behind him on either side. (Roosevelt's great-grandson, Theodore Roosevelt IV agreed with the museum's decision, for what it's worth.)

Of course, there's a lot of gray area here. "Where does it end?" and "How far do we go with this?" are questions we all have to grapple with.

In addition to the already established purpose of confederate monuments erected to reinforce white supremacy, we need to examine why we put up statues of people in general. The assumed purpose of a statue of someone displayed in public is veneration and honor. But what impact does that have?

Protesters in Portland, Oregon recently toppled a Jefferson statue in front of Jefferson High School. Rather than ask whether the statue should stay, let's ask why it's there in the first place. Does it even makes sense to honor Jefferson by naming a school in Oregon after him, when Oregon didn't even become a state until 30 years after Jefferson died? What's the purpose there, and what's the impact, especially on students Jefferson would have been cool with enslaving if they'd lived at the same time? Does honoring a figure like Thomas Jefferson by naming a school after him prompt us to gloss over the horrific aspects of who he was?

And what's the impact of removing the name? Would students at Jefferson High School never learn the history of Jefferson if it weren't for their school being named after him? Of course not. Was my history education lacking because I went to a high school called North Central and not the name of a historical figure? Of course not. Is there a better way of naming schools, buildings, roads etc. than pseudo-idol-worshiping historical figures? Undoubtedly.

I would argue that very few historical individuals are unproblematic enough to have statues of them displayed in public—especially in a nation whose history is steeped in white supremacy. Removing public figures from prominent places of honor and reverence allows us to sit with the full truth of who people were and are, to see them in their full history. With Jefferson, for example, it is possible to hold two truths at once—that he was a brilliant thinker whose powerful words pushed humanity forward in some important respects, and that he was also a rapist who kept his own children enslaved during his lifetime. But it's hard to balance those truths when we see his face everywhere in places of honor—statues, portraits, namesakes, and even our currency. We can't reconcile those two equally important truths when we constantly see him being honored and celebrated.

If we truly want to not erase history, we need to rethink statues and namesakes altogether. The over-honoring of historical individuals doesn't actually help us learn more about their history; it prompts us to elevate their positive contributions and brush aside their problematic characteristics. While focusing more on people's positives than negatives sounds nice in theory, that doesn't work in a country where the positives of people in power have always directly benefited an entire race of people while their negatives hurt entire races of people.

That's the nature of the history of our nation, whether we choose to acknowledge it or not. And I hope our kids learn that truth more fully when they learn why people in our generation chose to topple statues.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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2020 was difficult (to say the least). The year was full of life changes, losses, and lessons as we learned to navigate the "new normal." You may have questions about what the changes and challenges of 2020 mean for your taxes. That's where TurboTax Live comes in, making it easy to connect with real tax experts to help with your taxes – or even do them for you, start to finish.

Not only has TurboTax Live helped millions of people get their taxes done right, but this year they've also celebrated people who uplifted their communities during a difficult time by surprising them with "little lifts" to help out even more.

Here are a few of their stories:


Julz, hairdresser and salon owner

"As a hairdresser and salon owner, 2020 was extremely challenging," says Julz. "Being a hairdresser has historically been a recession-proof industry, but we've never faced global shut down due to health risk, or pandemic, not in my lifetime. And for the first time, hairdressers didn't have job security."

Julz had to shut down her salon and go on unemployment benefits for the first time. She also had to figure out how she was going to support herself, her staff and her business during this difficult time. But many other beauty industry professionals didn't have access to the resources they needed, so Julz decided to help.

"My business partner and I began teaching basic financial literacy to other beauty industry professionals," she says. "Transitioning our business from behind the chair to an online academy was a challenge we tackled head-on so that we could move hairdressers into this new space of education, and create a more accessible curriculum to better serve our industry.

Julz connected with a TurboTax Live expert who helped her understand how unemployment affected her taxes and gave her guidance on filing quarterly estimated taxes for her small business. "I was terrified to sit at a computer and tackle this mess of receipts," Julz says, so "it was great to have some virtual handholding to walk me through each question."

In addition to giving Julz the personalized tax advice she needed, TurboTax Live surprised her with a "little lift" that empowered her to help even more beauty professionals. "When my tax expert Diana surprised me with a little lift, I was moved to tears," says Julz. "With that little lift, I was able to establish a scholarship fund to help get other hairdressers the education they deserve."


Alana, new mom

Alana welcomed her first child in 2020. "I think my biggest challenge was figuring out how to be a mom, with no guidance," she says. "My original plan was to have my mom by my side, teaching me the ropes, but because of COVID, she wasn't able to come out here."

She was also without a job for most of 2020 and struggled to find something new.

So, Alana took it as a sign: she decided to launch her own business so she could support her new baby, and that's exactly what she did. She started a feel-good company that specializes in creating affirmation card decks — and she's currently in the process of starting a second, video-editing business.

TurboTax Live answered Alana's questions about her taxes and gave her some much-needed advice as she prepared to launch her businesses. Thanks to their "little lift," they provided her with a little emotional support too.

"I got my mom a plane ticket to finally [have her] meet [my daughter] for her first birthday," Alana says. "I was also able to get a new computer," which helped her invest in her new business and work on her video editing skills. "It's helped my family and me so much," she says.


Michael, science teacher

When schools shut down across the country last year, Michael had to learn how to adapt to a virtual classroom.

"As a teacher, I had to completely revamp everything," he says, so that he could keep his students engaged while teaching online. "At the beginning, it was a nightmare because I had no idea. I had to go from A-Z within a couple of weeks."

Michael's TurboTax Live expert answered his questions about how working from home affected his taxes and helped him uncover surprising tax deductions. To top it all off, his expert surprised him with brand new science equipment and supplies, which allowed him to create an entire line of classes on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. "Now I can truly potentially reach millions of children with my lessons," he says. "I would never have taken that leap if not for the little lift from TurboTax Live."



Ricky, motivational youth speaker

As a motivational speaker, Ricky was used to doing his job in person, but, he says, "when COVID-19 hit, it altered my ability to travel and visit schools in person [because] schools moved to fully virtual or hybrid models."

He knew he had to pivot — so he began offering small virtual group workshops for student leadership groups at middle and high schools.

"This allowed me to work with student leaders to plan how they would continue making a positive impact on their school community," he says. He wasn't sure how being remote would affect his taxes, but TurboTax Live Self-Employed gave him the advice and answers that he needed to keep more money in his pocket at tax time — and the little lift he received from them has helped him serve even more students.

"[It] has been a major blessing," he says "There will be multiple schools and student groups from across the country that I can hold leadership workshops with to empower them with the tools to be inspirational leaders in their school, community, and world."

Plus, he says, it was great knowing he had an expert to help him figure out how being remote affected his taxes. "I felt confident and assured in the process of filing my taxes knowing I had an expert working with me, says Ricky. "There were things my expert knew that I would not have considered when filing on my own."

Filing your taxes doesn't have to be intimidating, especially after a year like 2020. TurboTax Live experts can give you the "little lift" you need to get your taxes done. File with the help of an expert or let an expert file for you! Go to TurboTax Live to get started.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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