Wednesday, June 9, 2010

DAMage Report: What Color is Whitewash in the Crayola Box?

Excuse me... did someone roll us back into the 50s and 60s when I wasn't looking?  The rise in bigotry has been more and more evident in politics lately, but in the arena of the arts? 

In Arizona artists and children painting a mural on an elementary school featuring faces of kids who attend the school were the subject of drive-by racist slurs. The anti-black art campaign, which demanded the removal of  a dark-skinned latino child's portrait in the mural was adopted as well by a radio talk-show host who also served as a city councilman. The twat has since lost his show. Following the protests the school principal revealed a decidely chicken colored backbone, and ordered the faces of the Latino and Black students to be changed to Caucasian skin. When THAT was protested, he claimed it was an artistic decision. Right.

The Councilman Twat 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?'

Apparently anyone with skin darker than pasty white looks the same to the Councilman. It's always fun to note that invariably the protest of  "i'm not a racist" from a bigot's mouth includes "i'm good friends with them there black people." (Please insert visual here of me making gaggy face with finger down throat.)

The principal has since back-pedaled and allowed the mural to remain as intended, reflecting the diversity of it's student body. Ya think?

But back to the first point - are we sliding back as a society to an era when people think it's OKAY to yell racial slurs at not only adults, but children?  If art is a reflection of society, and is supposed to get a reaction, then what this mural revealed about the community of Prescott, Arizona, and possibly a portion of the American people is very dark and scary.  Quick hand me the whitewash crayon. We can't have anything "dark" showing up here.

If the art world is dominated by white males, then that singular perspective is going to be reflected in the arts. A friend of mine, who tours with Disney's Lion King, told me recently that the number of roles for a middle-aged black man on Broadway or theater anywhere in the country, is almost non-existent. No one writes the roles, therefore the roles aren't there for the actors. 

It is interesting that it was easier to find news articles and reference points for gender bias in the arts, than it was to locate information about racism and the arts. Does that mean it doesn't exist. Of course not. It means it hasn't been deemed news worthy.

1 comment:

ozymandiaz said...

the "arts" are considered liberal so no one would shine the light of truth in that direction other than conservatives who cry about public funds being spent on such.
i have lost all suprise at the rise of bigotry as those in this country with the loudest voices all seem to be hatemongers. In our community recently a church has been forefront in the news for esousing the evils of islam and at least here they are curbed and reprimanded. On a recent trip through (and I emphasise "through") south carolina there was a giant billboard next to the interstate pronouncing the bible's warning of the evil islamic rising.
can't you feel the love?