After a burst of national outrage over the Prescott School District’s request to “lighten” a mural with a large Latino figure, the School District announced at a pro-mural protest last Saturday that they are ok with the current image and they want the artists to return to the original vision for the mural.
Well today at 10am was the protest against changing the mural and for diversity. I hastily made my sign at 9:45am and drove down there. I’d love to tell you all what it said but it was so fucking clever I’ll probably be on television tonight. I arrived to … the most positive feeling protest I’ve ever been at … the director of the mural project was amazing. It truly is his time to shine. After R the Superintendent of Yavapai County announced that the mural would not be changed … I thought the super put its perfectly when he said something about how pleased he will be that when he drives by this intersection he will look at the mural and know that the boy is Mario.
The Superintendent’s referred to “Mario” because, according to the Arizona Republic newspaper, all the figures in the mural were drawn from photographs of children enrolled at Miller Valley, a K-5 school with 380 students and the highest ethnic mix of any school in Prescott. The male figure that has triggered the controversy was apparently the image of a boy named Mario.
Peace educator, author, and activist Randall Anderson wrote a telling post in the Huffington Post last week, where he laid out the absurdity of the Prescott School’s decision:
In a twisted feat of modernized and imposed “passing,” artists in Prescott have been pressured to “lighten” the dark-skinned faces on a just-completed public mural due to a backlash inspired by a city council member who said that he failed to see “anything that ties the community into that mural.”
In other words, the appearance of a brown-skinned face in the mural is not reflective of the community — despite the fact that demographic data indicates that people of color comprise over 15% of the regional population, and that in Arizona as a whole this demographic represents an estimated one-third of the state’s inhabitants.
Thankfully, saner head have prevailed in Prescott and the school district has decided that the mural will not be changed.
There is a YouTube video of the June 5th protest at Miller Valley Elementary School in Prescott, Arizona, where principal Jeff Lane and Prescott Unified School District Superintendent Kevin Kapp admit they made a mistake and apologize for their decision to lighten children’s faces on the “Go Green” mural.
In the video, Prescott Unified School District Superintendent Kevin Kapp offers some inspirational words for those on both sides of the controversy, “It is ok that this mural has become a major issue … it’s good for the town to stand up once in a while and take a look at itself, and this mural has done that. And Prescott will be a better place for it.”
Let’s hope so.
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