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.

Comments

  1. Joe

    I guess the children learn about the flagrant censorship often found in this society, now at an early age? Maybe the box of paints children get in school should only have colors of pink and white?

  2. No1KState

    I don’t get it. What’s the racial demographics of the school? And, are white Arizonans (not all of them, of course) really complaining about maybe being left out? Have they watched primetime TV lately?

    • José Cobas Author

      hi,
      there were details about the story that i had to leave out for reasons of space. google arizona republic prescott mural and you will taken to a website where you will find several stories about the incident.
      jose’

  3. ThirtyNine4Ever

    This ordeal is just embarrassing for anyone living in Arizona. Not too surprising though that it is coming out of Prescott, just embarrassing.

    • No1KState

      Concerning a previous thread –

      I’m sure plenty of legal citizens would be willing to pick fruit at much higher wage levels, leading to much higher fruit prices

      So true! You’re absolutely right!

      So…supporters of SB 1070 really don’t want to end illegal immigration, right? Can’t have your cake and eat it, too.

      To the rest of that comment: Cool beans, man! Anti-racists gotta learn and stick together!

  4. No1KState

    Okay . . . here’s the thing. If the school was 99% white, I’d be willing to role my eyes at Blair but move on. There’re bigger “racist to fry” so to speak. But it’s at least 30% Hispanic, so Blair’s initial complaint makes even less sense.

    Then he says it’s the principal’s fault for not explaining things upfrong, but the principle doesn’t owe the city council an explanation.

    Though, I had read about this before and just had other things I was doing. What’s always confused me is Blair’s complaint that, “that the minorities in the mural were creating racial controversy where none existed before.” From what I’ve come to understand, especially as a black person, the person who brings up the issue is the one who starts the controversy. Since when does a mural create a controversy where the was none?

  5. chrisch

    As reticent as I am to give kudos to CNN, I did see an interview they did with the artists last weekend that was pretty good. The artists explain that they’ve been dealing with racist challenges to the mural’s diverse racial images for weeks. Various elements (no doubt empowered by all the recent openly racist legislation being passed there) have spoken out at town meetings, the press and even (as I think has been mentioned) drive by and shout epithets at them and the students while they were painting. It sounds like these people finally organized to put pressure on the school administration to formally request changes in the mural. You can see the CNN coverage at:

    http://newsroom.blogs.cnn.com/2010/06/14/artists-racism-behind-request-to-change-childrens-skin-color/?iref=allsearch

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