(Matt Hinshaw/The [Prescott] Daily Courier)
This is a depressing story, and its resolution is even more so. A group of artists in Prescott, AZ, likes to put murals on every available surface, which is cute, and they recently unveiled a new one at an elementary school. In the center of one part of the artwork is an African American child. Uh oh:
[Mural project director R.E. Wall] attributes the start of the racial controversy to recent comments that Prescott City Councilman Steve Blair made on his KYCA radio talk show about the mural.
On his May 21 show, for instance, Blair said, "I am not a racist individual, but** I will tell you depicting a black guy in the middle of that mural, based upon who's president of the United States today and based upon the history of this community when I grew up, we had four black families - who I have been very good friends with for years - to depict the biggest picture on that building as a black person, I would have to ask the question, 'Why?'"
On Wednesday, Blair again emphasized that "I'm not a racist by any stretch of the imagination, but** whenever people start talking about diversity, it's a word I can't stand."
Blair questions whether the mural is representative of Prescott, noting, "The focus doesn't need to be on what's different; the focus doesn't need to be on the minority all the time."
Blair said he has received a number of calls from long-time Prescott residents who ask, "Who authorized that graffiti on the wall?" He added: "What these people don't like is somebody forcing diversity down their throats."
Yes, well, clearly this is not a racist person. He just dislikes the concept of "diversity."
What came next is astonishing: school officials asked for changes to the mural, coming up with a... whitewashed... reason for why the children's faces should be lightened, not so that they looked less "ethnic," but so that they looked more "radiant and happy."
And then the muralists went ahead and did it! Now, as you can see above, the child basically looks like an Italian with a buzz-cut. Diversity!
There's a lot more in the must-read article linked above which will sadden and infuriate you. Even more depressing are some of the comments left about the paper's earlier article about the mural's unveiling (note that they are just as offended by "environmentalism" as they are by "diversity"):
- The subject matter "green bikes" is virtually the most NON-REPRESENTATIVE, UN-PRESCOTT theme anyone could possibly choose. It is a minority agenda bent on shoving this bike thing "in our face".
- I went to Miller Valley School back in the '50s and this, IMHO, is a disgrace. In San Diego there is an area called Chicano Park and it looks just like this. Welcome to Calizona. Ugh!
- Welcome to the ghetto intersection of Prescott, Az.
- Now that "Mother Earth" has once again been shoved down children's throats how about it being time for someone to paint the Ten Commandments on some of these brick walls? Bring our Creator back to class in the form of art so our kids can have a choice as to what/ whom they desire to worship -the creation or the Creator?!?
- How's you and me searching out a school building and paint the 10 Commandments? Showing kids the story of creation. They can decide what's truth and what belongs in a zoo.
**Remember when I recently wrote about comments which begin with "I don't mean this in a racist way, but..."?
UPDATE: There's a very nice follow-up/resolution here.