Alex Eichler at The Atlantic
Matt Welch at Reason:
Well, here’s an ugly story
Hard to find even the Gallows Humor in this story, so maybe we won’t even try. Maybe it’s time to admit that large chunks of America are in the hands of unreconstructed racists and vulgar idiots, and that the popular election of a black man as president just might’ve pushed these furious, economically doomed old white people into a final rage that is going to end very, very badly. Ready? Here you go: An Arizona elementary school mural featuring the faces of kids who attend the school has been the subject of constant daytime drive-by racist screaming, from adults, as well as a radio talk-show campaign (by an actual city councilman, who has an AM talk-radio show) to remove the black student’s face from the mural, and now the school principal has ordered the faces of the Latino and Black students pictured on the school wall to be repainted as light-skinned children.This is America, in 2010, and there’s a dozen more states and endless white-trash municipalities ready to Officially Adopt this same Official Racist Insanity.
Seriously, Arizona. Fuck off and die.
This is another good example of how colorblind racism works. Colorblind racism, as a principle, works not to end racism but rather to render people of color invisible and discussions of racism beyond the pale in order to maintain white racial hegemony. Which is why in Blair’s mind, there would be no racial controversy if there were no people of color. By acknowledging that people of color exist, one “creates racial controversy.” The only way to end racial controversy, therefore, is for white people to be dominant and people of color to be invisible, only then can we be judged by the content of our character.
How would I feel if I were a brown student at Miller Valley Elementary School in Prescott, Arizona? A mural was created to depict some of the actual students in the school.
Let’s say I was one of the lucky ones. The mural took shape, and as my face became recognizable, I took some kidding from my classmates and a smile from a pretty girl I liked.
My parents even came over one day to have a look and take some photos to e-mail to the family. The mural was shown on TV, and everybody could see that it was me.
Then a City Councilman named Steve Blair went on his local radio talk show and made some comments about the mural. I didn’t hear him, but I can guess what he said. My dad says it’s open season on brown people in this state. Anyway, for two months white people drove past in their cars and screamed angry words out the window before hurrying away. And the artists got back up on their scaffold and started making my face whiter.
We went over to my grandparent’s house, and my grandmother cried and told me, “I prayed that was ending in my lifetime.” Then there was more news: The City Councilman was fired from his radio show, the Superintendent of Schools climbed up on the scaffold with a bullhorn and apologized for the bad decision, and I guess the artists went back up and started making my skin darker again, but I didn’t go to see, because I never wanted to go near that bullshit mural again.
I began up above by imagining I was a student in Prescott, Arizona, with my face being painted over. That was easy for me. What I cannot imagine is what it would be like to be one of those people driving past in their cars day after day and screaming hateful things out of the window. How do you get to that place in your life? Were you raised as a racist, or become one on your own? Yes, there was racism involved as my mother let the driver wait outside in the car, but my mother had not evolved past that point at that time. The hard-won social struggles of the 1960s and before have fundamentally altered the feelings most of us breathe, and we have evolved, and that is how America will survive. We are all in this together.
But what about the people in those cars? They don’t breathe that air. They don’t think of the feelings of the kids on the mural. They don’t like those kids in the school. It’s not as if they have reasons. They simply hate. Why would they do that? What have they shut down inside? Why do they resent the rights of others? Our rights must come first before our fears. And our rights are their rights, whoever “they” are.
Not along ago I read this observation by Clint Eastwood: “The less secure a man is, the more likely he is to have extreme prejudice.” Do the drive-by haters feel insecure? How are they threatened? What have they talked themselves into? Who benefits by feeding off their fear? We have a black man in the White House, and I suspect they don’t like that very much. They don’t want to accept the reality that other races live here right along with them, and are doing just fine and making a contribution and the same sun rises and sets on us all. Do they fear their own adequacy? Do they grasp for assurance that they’re “better”–which means, not worse? Those poor people. It must be agony to live with such hate, and to seek the company of others so damaged.
You know, Arizona stuff like this isn’t going to help convince people that there isn’t some weird racial thing going on in your state.
Jason Linkins at Huffington Post:
What can I say about this? We are talking about a bunch of mentally deranged adults, who have terrorized an elementary school, for daring to paint a mural featuring the faces of black and Latino children — actual black and Latino children who live in Arizona. And we’re also talking about a group of adults who have decided to send a stirring message to their students and the world: when a bunch of mentally deranged adults — and we are not talking about people who are particularly threatening, this is a bunch of utterly gutless mopes, yelling racial slurs from their cars, egged on by some pinhead city councilman cowering behind a radio microphone — threaten a bunch of children, the best thing to do is to accede to their psychotic, racist “demands.”
Seriously, educators of Prescott, Arizona, when some creep demands you whiten the faces of your own students on a mural, the correct response is to say, “No, we will not be doing anything of the sort.”
This story really should be blasted, far and wide. You cable news producers need to get this story in the mix with a quickness. And let me be clear to you all: there are no “two sides to this story.” This is not something you need to have a panel discussion about. CNN, I don’t want to see you plumbing the depths of your counterintuition on your website, or lending credence to the notion that the gutless mopes in their cars, shrieking racial slurs at the images of children have an interesting point of view that we should “hear out” because of the need to be “balanced.” This is your moment to decry, condemn, and brutalize these evil people.
Blast them to hell, or go jump in the Gulf of Mexico.
UPDATE: Good news. The gutless, carbound racists lost, and the mural is being restored to its “original theme.” Jeff Lane, the principal of Miller Valley Elementary School, and Kevin Kapp, the school superintendent, showed up at a protest today to apologize for giving in to whims of mentally deranged adults, spewing racial epithets at a painting
Garrett Epps at The Atlantic:
On Saturday, the public rallied at Miller Valley Elementary School in Prescott, Arizona, to save the murals on the wall outside the school. School officials had asked the artists to “Lighten up the forehead and the cheeks” of one of the students depicted in the mural, and make all the children look more “radiant and happy” — meaning, apparently, less black and Latino. But at the rally, officials of the school district announced that the murals would be kept as they are.The crisis at Miller Valley Elementary was brought on largely by the efforts of Steve Blair, a radio host and member of the city council. Blair objected to the mural’s depictions of black and Latino students. Blair assured listeners 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.” Not long after, drivers began shouting racial slurs at the artists working on the murals. Blair was fired from his radio show on Friday.