Saturday, June 5, 2010


The term "whitewashed" is often used today to describe someone who acts like a white person (whatever that's supposed to mean, considering that Caucasians can come from multiple cultures as well). In the days of Tom Sawyer, it used to refer to white paint made using chalk and lime that was often used to paint houses.

Well, now that old definition has some new meaning. A mural painted on the wall of an elementary school in Prescott, Arizona included the faces of children who actually attend the school. The school has a diverse ethnic mix, and the mural as a matter of course included white, black, and brown faces.

Some members of the community (beginning with a city councilman) apparently took offense to that. While the artists and the children helping them were painting the mural, they drove by the school screaming racist slurs for two months. Don't forget, this is an elementary school. Since when has shouting racist slurs at children become the best way to exercise your right to free speech?

In the end, the principal of the school decided the best way to handle the matter would be to ask the artists to lighten up the color of the children's skin. Make them more white, in other words.

And also don't forget that the faces in the mural are those of real kids. Isn't that a great message to send to your children? We don't like the skin color you were born with. If you manage to make it a little bit lighter, though, we might tolerate you a little better.

It seems like nowadays I'm reading about racism and discrimination every day. I live in the Bay Area, where most people respect other skin tones, at least in public. So I haven't been as exposed to this. And it sickens me that these problems are still out there. I thought we'd gotten past slavery and Jim Crowe. Hell, I thought we'd even gotten past World War II and Hitler and the Nazis, where we were fighting on the side of equality (kind of) and justice. What happened?


  1. Wow, I think the most disappointing part of this event is the fact that the principal, a person that the kids look up to, is basically saying that these hateful actions are legitimate and okay.

    Here's some interesting discrimination research in a natural field setting:

  2. I think I saw that - you posted it on Facebook earlier, right? It's unfortunately true, though. I wonder whether the race of the buyer makes a difference as well...