It’s all been dreary bad news this morning, amiright? So we need a pre-palate cleanser, um, cleanser and here it is:
The state of Rhode Island is moving to change its official name — “The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations” — due to its connection to slavery. Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo signed an executive order on Monday to change what appears on government documents, and the state’s legislature is moving forward with a bill to alter the name entirely.
I had no idea that was Rhode Island’s official name. That’s ghastly.
The order will shorten the name to “Rhode Island” in official communications from the governor’s office, including executive orders and citations, and will also change the state’s website. It will also remove the word “plantations” from all state agency websites and official correspondence, effective “as soon as practicable.”
I’m sure that the New Confederacy defenders will jump on protecting this history right away, cancel culture, etc, save the statues, and so on, even when the people vote to change it.
The Rhode Island Senate unanimously called for a statewide vote on the name change last week after the bill was introduced in part by the state’s only Black senator, Harold Metts. The state legislature signaled it will move forward with the referendum.
When something has a name, it has power. Changing the name, whether it is a brand of syrup or a NFL team (come’on, sports, it’s long overdue), or a state is a powerful symbol that times are finally changing. Way too slowly, of course, but I’ll take it.