What’s wrong with this picture?
An Arizona school mural designed to promote environmentally friendly transportation has ignited a debate about race and censorship of the arts.
Officials at Miller Valley Elementary School in Prescott, Ariz., asked the painters of the mural to lighten the skin of children depicted after a city councilman denounced its prominent portrayal of ethnic minorities. Following protests, the principal apologized today for making the request. "Miller Valley made a mistake when we asked them to lighten the mural. We made a mistake," said Principal Jeff Lane.
The mural shows children walking and cycling in a garden-like scene, with birds flying around them.
"We don’t have a racist town," R.E. Wall, who painted the "Go on Green" mural, told AOL News. "I believe we have racist city council."
City Councilman Steve Blair, who says he "can’t stand" the word "diversity," criticized the mural on his talk-radio show. He particularly targeted the portrayal of the painting’s main figure, a dark-skinned boy in blue jeans and green sweatshirt.
"To depict the biggest picture on that building as a black person, I would have to ask the question, ‘Why?’" Blair said on a May 21 broadcast, according to The Daily Courier.
The child in question is meant to be a Mexican-American, Wall told AOL News.
When the Courier published an article online about the unveiling of the mural, readers left comments describing the painting as "tacky," "ghetto" and "ugly." On his radio show, Blair said that he had spoken to locals who are offended by the mural and call it "graffiti."
Welcome to post-racist America. Yes, we’re beyond all that, of course.
Consider for a moment what this kind of ugly rhetoric is doing to children in Arizona. How will the brown-skinned kids be treated now by their lighter-skinned peers?
Jane Elliott, what would you charge to give the entire state of Arizona a Blue Eyes Brown Eyes exercise?