If you don't know the story about the elementary school mural that came under attack because of the appearance of two children of color then check out the links below to get up to speed.
- Prescott Arizona Daily Currier Art Attack: Elementary school mural getting a 'lighter' facelift
- AZCentral.com Altered mural fuels racial debate in Prescott
- TusconSentenal.com Prescott radio host fired over school mural flap
Councilman Steve Blair, who at the time had an AM radio show, said the following words:
On May 21, 2010 Steve 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?'"A correction at this point. The child depicted was a Latino boy. The next statement probably added gas to the fire:
"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."This Is What I Want to Say.
Well, maybe not. I can't use the words I want to because they are the same words I promised myself not to type in the blog. Came close though. WTF does not get near the words I wanted to use. I've tried typing this post six times and this is the best I can do.
I understand that words can hurt. Deeply. Whether you intended to or not. Words aimed at hurting children, children identities and self-esteem will generate straight up anger in me. It takes a bit of work to pull back.
I didn't want to pull back. Until I got my anger under control I couldn't write. It did help to see the actual citizens of Prescott stand up and say that what Blair and the principal did was wrong.
To Steve Blair, the Principal and the members of the community that drove by cussing at the artists:
Your words attacked people that couldn't fight back. The children.
The children came up the the design and the selection of the mural. You and your cohorts took that class and community project and crapped all over it. It wasn't political correctness that prompted that mural. It wasn't political at all.
It was a group of loving innocent children seeing a world that could be if we stupid adults would just be open to taking care of the planet.
These kids are the juice and cookie crowd. A good day has at least three knock-knock jokes. What did they know of your tea parties, talking points or hater of the week rhetoric?
Nothing. Not a damn thing. Somehow you took that innocence and mapped it to your own anger and frustrations. Politics is personal but goddamn it should not be vindictive; especially against children.
Congratulations. You've introduced them to racism, public ridicule and, as an added bonus, taken the intended message "Go Green with Transportation" and stomped it in the ground.
There isn't anything I could type to make you or others that think like you understand that community is much larger than your city borders. That love isn't depended on an external light upon the skin but the light within.
To The Rest of Us:
I was thinking of Fred Rodgers. Actually, a great dame name Kim Pearson reminded me that we need to affirm the children. My mind linked back to good old Fred, who had a heck of a lot more smarts and class than we do at the moment.
In the meantime, we can work on connecting with the better part of our adult selves.
We've got work to do. Let's get to it.