Sunday, June 6, 2010

Arizona School Withdraws Request for Artist to Lighten Faces on Mural

A Prescott, Arizona school has occupied the center of a controversy for nearly a week. The school commissioned an artist to paint a mural with an environmental theme using pictures of students who attended the school. A Latino child is among the most prominently displayed figures in the mural.

During the painting of the mural, passersby hurled racial epithets at the artist. Steve Blair, a member of the city council, criticized the mural during his radio show, invoking the jaded "I'm not a racist, but. . . " and the "I have black friends" lines in the same breath:
"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."
Apparently, the mere presence of a Latino child is unsettling to some people in the community. Although the child is an actual student at the school, his presence in the mural means that the artist is "forcing diversity down the[] throats" of whites in Prescott.

Furthermore, the nonracist Blair describes the Latino child as black and somehow manages to connect him with President Obama (who happens to be black). Equality is so beautiful!

The school also received complaints, which led officials to ask the artist to "lighten" the faces of children depicted in the mural. School officials denied any racist intent and said that they were not responding to angry callers.

After a national uproar, however, school officials have now switched their position and have withdrawn the request to have the mural altered to depict lighter children. The school principal said he made a mistake; the superintendent also said that the request to lighten the students' faces was wrong.

Meanwhile, Blair has lost his radio show. And he is still complaining about the mural:
"It looked like a guy, in my opinion, a black guy, brown guy holding a stick, and flowers and stuff, what was it supposed to mean?
Perhaps he'll blame some "black guy, brown guy" for the loss of his radio show.

1 comment:

Jack Wilson said...

I am the former Mayor of Prescott Arizona and I have called for the resignation of City Councilman Steve Blair because of his racist remarks. See my blog post at

Steve, if you truly love Prescott you need to resign

See our group Facebook page
Calling for the Resignation of Steve Blair, Prescott, AZ City Councilman

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