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Arizonans shout racial slurs at children; still totally not racist though! [UPDATE]

June 4, 2010

won't somebody please think of the ambiance?!

In an effort to strengthen its bid for the title of America’s Most Embarrassing State(TM), Arizona got itself into another bit of Racist Business today. The Racist Business included:

  1. passing drivers shouting so many racial slurs at a mural being painted on the side of an elementary school that
  2. the principal of the school requested the face of a depicted Latino boy–an actual student at the school–be lightened.

Okay, so: Miller Valley Elementary, in Prescott, AZ, was having a “Go on Green” mural, depicting various students of the school employing green transportation methods, painted on the side of its facility. It featured four children, including, most prominently, a Latino student. So, obviously,

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).”

Right? I mean, what else does a right-thinking passer-by do when confronted with an environmentally-friendly children’s painting?

Jeff Lane, the Miller Valley Principal, stated that he asked the mural’s subjects be lightened for artistic reasons, in order to “fix the shading” on their faces. Which sounds like it could very possibly be not-nonsense, except for the fact that even a City Councilman was complaining about it. Seriously.

City Councilman Steve Blair apparently has his very own radio show, on which he tackles hard-hitting issues like the presence of brown children within his line of sight.

In a broadcast last month, according to the Daily Courier in Prescott, Blair mistakenly complained that the most prominent child in the painting is African-American, saying: “To depict the biggest picture on the building as a Black person, I would have to ask the question: Why?”

According to Councilman Blair, merely depicting a non-white child “change[s] the ambience of that building to excite some kind of diversity power struggle that doesn’t exist in Prescott, Arizona.”

OH BOY. Let’s step back and really take this one in, shall we?

  1. An image of a diverse group of students changes the “ambiance” of what is, according to the AZ Central article, the most diverse school in the district. A mural with a white student prominently displayed would suggest one “ambiance,”–apparently the correct one–and this mural, with a Latino (or African-American) student prominently displayed, suggests a different, objectionable “ambiance”.
  2. Merely viewing an image of a minority student will incite a “diversity power struggle” that otherwise doesn’t exist, because obviously Prescott, AZ doesn’t have ANY RACE PROBLEMS WHATSOEVER .

What is the “ambiance” of Miller Valley Elementary School? Let’s look:

"This school" is Miller Valley Elementary

According to Public School Review, Miller Valley is whiter than the Arizona average, but not, according to everyone’s favorite unassailable research source, Wikipedia, whiter than Prescott:

The racial makeup of the city was 92.93% White, 0.50% Black or African American, 1.27% Native American, 0.83% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 2.77% from other races, and 1.63% from two or more races. 8.17% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

It turns out Miller Valley is a much more diverse place than its home city, with a large number of Latino students and a small-but-significant number of African-American students. But honestly? It wouldn’t matter if Miller Valley and Prescott were both 99.9% white and this Latino boy in the painting were the ONE AND ONLY brown person for 100 miles. You know why? Because only racists get pissy about a happy minority child in a community art project. UGH.

UPDATE: My new favorite radio-racist, City Councilman Steve Blair, was fired from his radio show this weekend. Yay!

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