Since the murder of George Floyd, many white and white-presenting community members have opened our eyes to the horror of systemic racism and anti-blackness. While many of us have been on an antiracist journey for some time, we recognize that our blindspots are still harmful, learning does not end, and we must listen to our Black neighbors.
As I shared recently, it’s important that we recognize that our history has been whitewashed and that the Black experience has been almost exclusively told to white people through white voices. White supremacy has glossed over stories of racism, horror and genocide for centuries. It’s time we listen to the stories of Black Americans and follow their lead when it comes to how we share and honor the truth about our collective past as a nation. This is why we believe statues honoring confederate soldiers, slave traders and racists must come down.
At Apotheosis, we are going to practice what we preach and recognize our own blindspot about King Louis IX. First, we want to send a thank you to the group of St. Louisans who highlighted the horrific and violent legacy of King Louis IX of France and demanded the removal his statue located in front of the Saint Louis Art Museum in Forest Park. We want to acknowledge that it is our responsibility to educate ourselves on these figures, and we should have addressed this past in our logo long ago.
What is King Louis IX’s legacy?
As shared in the petition for statue removal: “For those unfamiliar with King Louis IX he was a rabid anti-semite who spearheaded many persecutions against the Jewish people. Centuries later Nazi Germany gained inspiration and ideas from Louis IX as they embarked on a campaign of murderous genocide against the Jewish people. Louis IX was also vehemently Islamophobic and led a murderous crusade against Muslims which ultimately cost him his life.”
Symbols that celebrate white supremacy and violence are harmful. As allies we must stand up against this harm. Allyship requires recognizing these symbols we’ve revered for so long may not be what we were told they represented. It’s recognizing we have to abandon them and the memories of nostalgia they brought. Before the Arch, our city was represented by the Apotheosis Statue, and its iconography was used to promote our region for decades. It’s now time to bring its use to a close.
History has been written by the oppressors then it’s taught to all of us. It happened with Columbus, it happened with the Confederates, It happened with slavery, and it happened to King Louis IX. We must recognize that history has been written to forget the evils that created society – a society built on oppression and justice for some, but not all.
That is why we will no longer use the imagery of King Louis IX in our branding. We cannot be a store that fights for social justice with a symbol that represents injustice.
We will keep the name Apotheosis because the name means transformation to something greater. We hope recognizing the hurt our logo could bring will be a trial in our own apotheosis as we continue to fight for a better tomorrow.