In my rant on racism (“Language? We don’t need no stinkin’ national language“), I mentioned the story from Prescott, AZ where a mural depicting local children was being repainted to make the students white. Where a local city council member was using his radio show to speak out against the mural, and during the painting of it, artists were treated to racial epithets being shouted at them.
Well, there’s a small victory. The mural, which according to the school principal was lightened to make the faces seem happier, not because of the controversy (right)- is being restored to the original color scheme. The city council member? Was fired from his radio show. And the city has come together to prove that they support the children who were depicted.
So what did Steve Blair say that was so bad? Here’s a quick highlight of what he had said on his show:
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 think it’s pathetic,” he also said. “You have changed the ambience of that building to excite some kind of diversity power struggle that doesn’t exist in Prescott, Arizona. And I’m ashamed of that.”
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.”
“It was defacing a public building, of a historic nature,” Blair said when interviewed after losing his radio job.
“Nobody bothered to let the community know what that mural was supposed to depict, made it very difficult even to buy in on what the mission statement of that mural was supposed to be,” said Blair.
“It was too big, too in your face, wrong place, wrong time,” 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? If they say it means going green, what does that mean?”
Wow. I don’t even know where to start. He used the classic “I have black friends, therefore, I’m not a racist” argument. His apology included the word but, which negates the apology. He even tried to claim that choosing a black student had something to do with Obama being president!
But considering that he had a Spanish Language banner removed that encouraged residents to send in their census form because it might make visitors think “we’re a Spanish community rather than an English community.” Nevermind that a banner in English hung a block away. He also reportedly referred to Mexicans as “taco flippers.” Sorry, Blair. I think that sets a pretty good precedence for being a racist right there.
No matter what, it looks like the silent citizens of Prescott are stepping up to show that he doesn’t represent them. Which is a victory indeed!