Racism and the Stroke of a Brush–Arizona Again

A farcical show of racism took place recently in Prescott, an Arizona city of 34,000, located 120 miles north of Phoenix. The cause was the opposition by some local citizens to a public mural located at an elementary school. The mural’s purpose was to advertise a “green transportation campaign.” Likenesses of four elementary school children of various races were part of the display.

The presence of nonwhite children in the mural bothered some of the local white citizens. Regarding the painted wall, one of the mural artists, reported that as the artists and some children worked on the project they were heckled. “We had children painting with us, and here come these yells of (epithet for Blacks) and (epithet for Hispanics).”

Wall reported that subsequently school principal Jeff Lane asked him to make the children’s faces appear “happier and brighter.”

“It is being lightened because of the controversy,” Wall said. He added that, “they want it to look like the children are coming into light.”

It would appear that ‘brighter’ and ‘coming into light’ mean ‘whiter.’ Yet Lane denied any political pressure, asserting the changes were made “from an artistic view. nothing to do with race.”

It is important to note that the mural was funded by a state grant. Furthermore, Wall reported that thousands of town residents volunteered or donated to the project.

Nevertheless the ‘mural battle’ is a stark reminder that racism still is alive, even if sometimes it comes as tragicomedy.