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Arizona City “Whitewashes” Murals: So Glad We’re Beyond All That Racism

Update: Looks like the truly good folks in Prescott are fighting back, forcing some of the School Board members to say "we made a mistake, and we’re sorry." The councilman quoted below may have been fired by local talk radio show. (h/t Wonkette) See video.


In case you needed further assurances that the popular support among whites for Arizona’s "show me your papers" and "history began in 1848, or maybe 1913" statutes couldn’t possibly be based at least partly on racism, we have an example of enlightened tolerance from the pristine community of Prescott, Arizona.

From the NYDaily News:

Artists who painted a mural at an elementary school in Prescott depicting four students, with the most prominent being a Hispanic boy, were asked to lighten the faces amid taunts and tensions.

R.E. Wall, the artist who heads the Prescott Downtown Mural Project, told a local newspaper passersby regularly shouted racially charged comments at his group while they were creating the mural at the Miller Valley Elementary School.

"You’re desecrating our school," "Get the ni—- off the wall," "Get the sp– off the wall," were common, Wall said. "The pressure stayed up consistently," Wall said. "We had two months of cars shouting at us."

And it seems one councilman just can’t handle the "black" guy in the White House:

The ranting of one city councilman seems to have revved up the controversy in the community.

"Art is in the eye of the beholder, but I say [the mural] looks like graffiti in L.A.," Councilman Steve Blair said.

"I am not a racist individual," Blair said on a radio show last month, "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?’"

The "black guy" in the mural is based on a student of Mexican descent, a school official said.

According to the most recent census data, Prescott is more than 90% white, with 8.2% claiming Hispanic origin. Blacks, Asians and Native Americans compose less than 3% combined, the data show.

Blair said Wednesday diversity is a word "I can’t stand."

I’m trying to understand why the President of the United States sent 1200 National Guard to keep reality from intruding on Prescott, Arizona, rather than guarding its schools and students from racist thuggery. We used to do that.

But I’m sure it’s a lovely place (see comment). You might want to put Prescott on your list of places not to visit this decade. [I spoke too soon; see update]

John Chandley

The Arizona Republic, Altered Mural Faces Racial Debate in Prescott

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John has been writing for Firedoglake since 2006 or so, on whatever interests him. He has a law degree, worked as legal counsel and energy policy adviser for a state energy agency for 20 years and then as a consultant on electricity systems and markets. He's now retired, living in Massachusetts.

You can follow John on twitter: @JohnChandley