Wednesday, June 16, 2010

fix the shading on the children's faces (4)

fix the shading on the children's faces!

"to depict the biggest picture on
the building as a black person, i would
have to ask the question: why?"
steve blair

what guides the hand of a
muralista? some glittering
idea that compels from a
world apart? some form
embedded in media matter,
awaiting a cunning artisan
touch to coax it out in all of
its material splendor? or
maybe some possessing
spirit of the age to take the
head, insinuate itself into
the lime mortar or plaster,
the tempera or encaustic
colors ground in a molten
beeswax or resin binder to
social realist art into the
public sphere -- to achieve
a political goal, to socially
emancipate, to advertize.
the mural mice, hardly a cell
of trotskyites, hired to paint
two intersection-facing walls
of the miller valley elementary
school in prescott, arizona,
learned first hand the backlash
of white privilege. they daringly
deigned to represent a multiethnic
vision --children using "green"
modes of transportation.
dominating pattern & symmetry,
points of interest & texture,
line & depth of field was the
striking image of a young
brown boy with a thick strong
jaw & defiant eyes, on one
knee, poised to get up &…act!
a metaphor for the artist in
a decadent capitalist society?
shaped by conflict between
himself & the social forces
arrayed against him? hardly.
like david alfaro siqueiros’
tropical america, brimming
with radical political militancy
or diego rivera’s provocative
post impressionist mural for
the hotel de prado in mexico
city including the words
"god does not exist" or jose
orozco’s symbolist murals
promoting the political causes
of peasants & workers?
not at all -- but powerful enough
to provoke a thermidorean
reaction from the prescott
demographic. from moving cars
came the shibboleths:

"you're desecrating our school,"
“get the nigger off the wall!”
“get the spic off the wall!”

hurled by the philistine, the
conservative & the frightened;
prompting the school principal
to tell the mural mice to lighten
up --the images on the wall,
that is; make those dark folk
lighter before they draw out
the destructive quality of
reconstructed whiteness, its
sinister structural causes &
consequences, before they
reveal the possessive
investment in being white &
the reinvention of white
identity as nonracist,
nonoppressive & victimized --
informed by the delusions &
projections of so-called decent
folk preserving their heritage.

©Joseph McNair; 2010


  1. This poem depicts the sadness of Racism that goes on today.
    People do not realize that the Race that you were born with is not something that you can just randomly change, or even need to change.
    The acceptance of others Race and ethnics have been problemized for centuries and centuries.
    We have gotten to a certain point today where people can live somewhat freely, however, it is really never ending.
    This is something that will most probably always go on.
    We just have to hope it will lessen and lessen over time.

  2. i think it is just plain stupidity for someone to tell an artist to change the color of the child's face. it is up to the artists preference and the artist is taking into considereation of trying to find an inbetween that would represent children. i agree with Jackie when she says that you cannot change the color of the skin you were born with. what kind of message will this send to the children? that its wrong to be a darker color than some of the other people? they are going to start thinking badly of themselves and others who share the same skin tone as them. it is not fair for them to be treated like that even if its not directly, it is sending the absolute wrong message to them and they will carry on that message to others. its just a vicious cycle to keep racism going instead of trying to help iliminate it.

  3. Even before reading this poem I saw this on the news and I thought it was just plain crazy. You first ask someone to paint you a painting then after you tell them the boy in the painting is too dark lighten him up. They were of course not talking about his personality but his skin color. In this poem I felt that you hit it on the head it is just plain about racism. We of course do not choose our race just like the boy in the painting he didn't choose to be that shade of color but his creator did so why change him. Till this day there are still forms of racism that it even reared its ugly head in a painting. So we need to change as human being and know that we are just one people.

  4. “We have come so far.” That is what many people say but instances such as this proves that we have a long way to go. Racism and prejudice occasionally rears its head and shows the true nature of society. An artist was hired to paint a mural on the school wall that was supposed to depict green transportation but when the boy on the mural was too dark the community needed it to be changed. Racial slurs were thrown out and showed how people really felt. This situation proves that racism, prejudice, and classism is alive in well. I agree that we have come far but we still have a long way to go. If the people who wanted this mural changed look at the real reason they wanted it changed, they would be disgusted with themselves.

  5. This is truly a sad situation. People wanting the artist to change the shade of the child conflicts with so many of our so called freedoms. First it conflicts with the first amendment. The artist should be free to express himself however they want to. It shouldn’t have been a problem if he made the child as black as night or as white as a toilet; it’s their creation and I’m sure they were commissioned for a reason. In also should be free to be ourselves. This event is going to send a very strong message to the children of our nation. It’s already been proven that even small children think it’s better to be light skinned; I can’t begin to imagine how this is going to impact them.

  6. Once again racism raises its ugly head. The first amendment is under fire. Some people refuse to change. They just cannot see the errors of their ways. They have no empathy, therefore, cannot relate – they are tunneled vision and a dramatic rude awakening is necessary to transform their perspectives. Perhaps the shoe should be placed on the other foot. The majority becomes the minority. How can people that look like me, the children the colors of the rainbow feel equal, welcomed and accepted in a society such as this? This puts me in a melancholy mood.