History & Social Studies Race & Racism Social Commentary Visual and Performing Arts

It’s time to revisit the Washington Murals debate.

I firmly stand behind my vote to paint down the Life of Washington Murals. I don’t need white (and Asian) alumni, many of whom graduated from the school before it was even integrated as a result of Brown v. Board of Education, to tell me what those murals represent.

The Black children and families that walk into the school each day seeing their ancestors picking cotton and kneeling before a slave master, know what those paintings represent. Native American and Indigenous children and families don’t need false histories of scalping and “Indian attacks” and true histories of “Dead Indians” to know what those paintings represent. That history is a part of them.

As Caroline Randall Williams states in her NY Times article titled “You Want a Confederate Monument? My Body Is a Confederate Monument”:

“My blackness does not put me on the other side of anything. It puts me squarely at the heart of the debate.”

Caroline Randall Williams

When I voted to paint over the Life of Washington Murals, I did so because I know what it feels like to see your history marginalized and erased. I know what it feels like to be told by an education system that others have the right to tell your ancestral stories.

After we voted UNANIMOUSLY as a Board, I saw how whiteness mobilized in its own defense. I saw how “white solidarity” (DiAngelo) worked behind the scenes in both Moderate and Progressive political spaces. I saw how powerful men (all Democrats) met behind closed doors and mobilized the power of capitalism, the media, political strategists and white supremacist propaganda machines (Info Wars, the National Review, and Carlson Tucker, look it up) to target mothers, grandmothers and nonbinary parents and children who were speaking truth to power.

We were portrayed as “angry”. We were called the Taliban. We were told we were irrational.

Ask yourself where you stand on those murals now. Have they prevented history from repeating itself?

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