“Everything we shut our eyes to, everything we run away from, everything we deny, denigrate or despise, serves to defeat us in the end. What seems nasty, painful, evil, can become a source of beauty, joy, and strength, if faced with an open mind.” ~ Henry Miller

Small Section of Completed Mural Depicting Flora and Fauna of Prescott and Alternative Transportation: One of two eco-themed murals

  **UPDATE**

“My generation’s apathy. I’m disgusted with it. I’m disgusted with my own apathy too, for being spineless and not always standing up against racism, sexism and all those other -isms the counterculture has been whining about for years.” ~ Kurt Cobain 

On Friday, Arizona Fox affiliate KYCA fired Steve Blair from his job as a radio talk show host for the station. Blair’s firing comes as a result of his vile comments regarding the mural that I discussed in the post below.

Additionally, in a letter to the editor,  former Prescott Mayor Jack Wilson called for Blair to resign from the City Council:

Steve, if you truly love Prescott you need to resign. 

I spend 5-6 hours yesterday on Twitter trying to do “damage control” that resulted from the remarks of Councilman Steve Blair on the Miller Valley School “Going Green” mural. Yesterday was a firestorm of bad publicity for Prescott and it was worldwide.

Several major newspapers, including the Arizona Republic, USA Today, Washington Post, etc. picked up the story of the mural. The story was also picked up by the Associated Press which means up to 1,000 papers could reprint the story.

Many of the most influential Internet blogs also picked up the story, including The Huffington Post, The Daily Kos, etc. The Twitterverse has been super active and I have replied to a couple hundred Tweets to try to protect Prescott’s image.

Steve, you have sullied the image of Prescott worldwide. Yes, I understand you love Prescott, but the firestorm of controversy that you have created has reverberated all the way to Melbourne, Australia where you and your comments on the mural are a hot topic. I cannot reprint many of the Twitter Tweets because of the language used in them – your comments have hit a nerve across America and the world and it was not a good nerve.

As the former Mayor of Prescott Arizona I have done my best yesterday and today to respond to hundred of Tweets and blog posts and tell the world that most of Prescott residents do not share your views. That has helped somewhat. However, this firestorm of bad publicity for Prescott will not subside until you do the right thing.

If you truly love Prescott, you need to resign from the Prescott City Council.

“There is a strange kind of tragic enigma associated with the problem of racism. No one, or almost no one, wishes to see themselves as racist; still racism persists, real and tenacious.” ~ Albert Memmi

Just to clarify, here’s an example of some Blair “I’m-not-a-racist-because-I-have-black-friends” rhetoric:

On his May 21 show 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?'”

Personally, I can tell you that I have always loved it when people open their sentences with the “I am not a racist but” clause. Just makes me warm and tingly all over.

Oh, and by the way, I found out after further research that the mural design was put on public display and circulated to local residents, and the Prescott City Council, including Councilman Blair, voted to approve the final design, so all of his protesting about not knowing what the mural was supposed to depict is just plain bull. Said Blair, “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?”

“One day our descendants will think it incredible that we paid so much attention to things like the amount of melanin in our skin or the shape of our eyes or our gender instead of the unique identities of each of us as complex human beings.” ~ Franklin Thomas

I have been unable to get on the mural site as it has been overwhelmed with traffic, but I wanted to display the entire mural, which covers two sides of the building.  I did, however, find a sketch of the mural showing all four children, two of whom are blond; one is black, and one is Latino. The full mural depicts four children, and the largest picture, the one that Blair and others protested, is of an actual Latino child who attends Miller Valley School. The children depicted were chosen from photographs of the children attending the school, which is described as the “most racially diverse” school in Prescott. The mural’s theme is “Go Green,” which celebrates the fact that Miller Valley is a “green” school.

 

In the midst of all of the mud-slinging and opining on this issue, I think that one key point is being white-washed, as it were (okay, really bad pun): There were real school children working on painting the mural. There are real school children depicted in the mural. These kids were subjected to a bunch of gits yelling racial slurs from their cars as they drove past: “Get the n***** off the wall.” Lovely. Group of young, impressionable students doing work for their community and school being yelled at by a bunch of loudmouthed bullies. That’s right bullies, what else would you call adults who yell at defenseless children on scaffolding?

But to close on a good note—the principal of the school and the school superintendent of Prescott Unified School District have said that they “made a mistake” in deciding to kowtow to the protestors by requesting that the artist lighten the skin of the boy on the mural. “We asked them to lighten the mural. We made a mistake,” Principal Jeff Lane said. Added Superintendent Kevin Kapp: “The school district made a mistake and shame on us if we can’t say shame on us and we’re sorry.”

More later. Peace.

Music by Deadman, “When the Music’s Not Forgotten” (Yes, I know, this is a repeat, but it’s appropriate)

                                                                                                                              

When the Music’s Not Forgotten

Please come close, for I long for you to hear
Hear the sound
That will rid you of your fears
In a land, where no water can be found
In a place, where there is no fertile ground
Longing for, yearning not to be forgotten
In an age, when the music is forgotten
In an age, when the music is forgotten

In the truth (in the truth)
Speaks of great and mighty things
Teaching us (teaching us)
What the peace of heaven brings
We must give (we must give)
We must give to all the others to those in need (those in need)
Who we fear to call our brothers

Reaching out (reaching out)
So that we are not forgotten
In a time (in a time)
When the music is forgotten
In a time (in a time)
When the music is forgotten

If we stand on a hill and do not touch
How can we do good?
If we wash our hands with all our friends
Where change can really come
If we hide our fears and don’t draw near
Have we really lived?
Or are we all just standing here
Hoping there is grace?

In a dream (in a dream)
That I had not long ago
Visions of (visions of)
In a city made of gold
And a sound (and a sound)
That I never heard before
Such a sound (such a sound)
Saturating to the core
Such a sound (such a sound)
One that cannot be forgotten

[x4]
In a time (in a time)
When the music’s not forgotten

“If you fear making anyone mad, then you ultimately probe for the lowest common denominator of human achievement.” ~ Jimmy Carter

Pamela J. Smith and R.E. Wall Sitting in front of Offensive Miller Valley School Mural titled “Go on Green” in Prescott, Arizona

   

 

“If we accept and acquiesce in the face of discrimination, we accept the responsibility ourselves. We should, therefore, protest openly everything . . . that smacks of discrimination or slander.” ~ Mary McLeod Bethune

In 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “The nation is sick; trouble is in the land, confusion all around . . .” And luckily in the years that followed, we, as a country, seemed to find a way to curb that sickness. Unfortunately, we did not eradicate it. Unfortunately, King’s words from over 40 years ago seem to be just as relevant today as they were then. Unfortunately, each day when I peruse the news, I find more and more instances of a society that seems to be losing its way.

Unfortunately.

Unfortunately, the following story (as related in a column on Wonkette) is true, and it is so bleeping offensive to sane people, that I am not going to summarize, or pick and choose which parts to repeat. The whole thing needs to be repeated and spread far and wide because folks, we’re losing it, here. So here it is, verbatimm, courtesy of Wonkette:

Arizona School Demands Black & Latino Students’ Faces On Mural Be Changed To White

Hard to find even the Gallows Humor in this story, so maybe we won’t even try. Maybe it’s time to admit that large chunks of America are in the hands of unreconstructed racists and vulgar idiots, and that the popular election of a black man as president just might’ve pushed these furious, economically doomed old white people into a final rage that is going to end very, very badly. Ready? Here you go: An Arizona elementary school mural featuring the faces of kids who attend the school has been the subject of constant daytime drive-by racist screaming, from adults, as well as a radio talk-show campaign (by an actual city councilman,* who has an AM talk-radio show) to remove the black student’s face from the mural, and now the school principal has ordered the faces of the Latino and Black students pictured on the school wall to be repainted as light-skinned children.

This is America, in 2010, and there’s a dozen more states and endless white-trash municipalities ready to Officially Adopt this same Official Racist Insanity.

From the Arizona Republic:

A group of artists has been asked to lighten the faces of children depicted in a giant public mural at a Prescott school. The project’s leader says he was ordered to lighten the skin tone after complaints about the children’s ethnicity ….

R.E. Wall, director of Prescott’s Downtown Mural Project, said he and other artists were subjected to slurs from motorists as they worked on the painting at one of the town’s most prominent intersections.

“We consistently, for two months, had people shouting racial slander from their cars,” Wall said. “We had children painting with us, and here come these yells of (epithet for Blacks) and (epithet for Hispanics).”

The children depicted on the mural, as we mentioned before but feel compelled to repeat, are little kids who go to the school — “a K-5 school with 380 students and the highest ethnic mix of any school in Prescott. Wall said thousands of town residents volunteered or donated to the project.”

And these children, for the past several months as this happy mural encouraging “green transportation” was being painted by local artists, have been treated to the city of Prescott’s finest citizens driving by and yelling “Nigger” and “Spic” at this school wall painted with pictures of the children who attend the school. And this has been encouraged by a city councilman, Steve Blair, who uses his local radio talk show to rile up these people and demand the mural be destroyed.

And now the faces are being painted white, “because of the controversy.”

Remember where you were, when you could still laugh about teabaggers and racists and Arizonans, because funny time is almost over. If the unemployment keeps up — one in five adult white males has no job and will never have a job again — and people keep walking away from their stucco heaps they can’t afford and the states and cities and counties and towns keep passing their aggressive racist laws to rile up the trash even more, shit’s going to very soon become very bad, and whether it’s the National Guard having wars in the Sunbelt Exurbs against armies of crazy old white people who are finally using their hundreds of millions of guns, or whole Latino neighborhoods burned to the ground the way the Klan used to burn down black neighborhoods a century ago, we are in for a long dark night and no light-colored paint is going to fix that. [AZCentral via Wonkette operative AZW88]

*To see the unbelievable comments by Councilman Steve-I-Hate-Diversity Blair, click here.

Unfortunately, I can think of no musical accompaniment for this.

More later. Peace.

 

“In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins — not through strength, but through persistence.”

This was my Cinco de Mayo post . . .

Recently I read a post on Janson’s blog (Floridana v3.0) that really got my ire going in full swing. I am reposting a bit of his copy and the image in honor of Cinco de Mayo to show just how appreciative certain Arizona legislators are, especially when it comes to things like Constitutional free speech. Apparently Judy Burges thinks that being rude to anyone with an opposing opinion is perfectly acceptable behavior for a  state representative. So glad I don’t live in Arizona at the moment for so many reasons.

Janson’s comments:

A friend of mine recently forwarded an email exchange between her brother-in-law and Arizona State Representative for District 4, Judy Burges. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by Burges’s response to Mark (she’s a Birther, after all)—and yet I was. I’m surprised by how utterly unprofessional her response to Mark was. Is this the best representation District 4 can come up with? Does Burges really represent the people of Arizona? I think not, I hope not.

What strikes me most about this email exchange is how Burges’s own political beliefs seem to supersede her ability to effectively and productively represent her constituents. Like an oil slick covering the ocean (an unfortunate and sad simile at this moment), this kind of arrogant, self-serving thinking does nothing to actually help or serve her constituents. Instead of trying to convince Mark to reconsider visiting Arizona again in the future (which would economically benefit her constituents), she decides to insult this potential source of income for the people of her state. Mark is far less likely to visit Arizona as a direct result of Judy Burges’s nasty response.

She just solidified more loss of money for her constituents.

And this is what kills me. It’s not so much that she’s a birther. It’s not so much that I so deeply disagree with what I view to be racism in the legislation she supports… In this case, it’s that she is allowing her own vitriol to override her ability to actually serve her constituents productively. She, like so many others, is so in love with her own perverse distortion of ideology, she is either no longer willing or able to actually serve her constituents’ best interests. It wouldn’t be hard to have responded to Mark in a productive manner without compromising her own values.

It’s called Rhetoric. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad. And sometimes it’s completely absent.

Arizona deserves better than Judy Burges of District 4.

Here’s a link to the Arizona Representative Judy Burges is a Moron Facebook group page. Join them to show your solidarity—but be sure to also email and phone Burges directly! Her email is jburges@azleg.gov and her office phone is 602-926-5861. Feel free to share this graphic/story with anybody and everybody.

 

 

More later. Peace.