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Arizona School Center of Racism Debate

By carolyncastiglia |

With all the tension in Arizona over immigration law, wouldn’t it be crazy if some local politician with a radio talk show started a campaign to have the faces of black and Hispanic children on a school mural lightened so that they looked white?  That would be totally insane, right?


Which is why all hell broke loose this weekend in Prescott, AZ.  Wonkette first reported Friday that “a group of artists has been asked to lighten the faces of children depicted in a giant public mural at a Prescott school. The project’s leader says he was ordered to lighten the skin tone after complaints about the children’s ethnicity.” Ordered by the principal of Miller Valley School, no less, because of pressure led by Prescott city councilman Steve Blair. 

Prescott residents were riled by Blair’s inflammatory comments about the appropriateness of depicting a black student in the center of the mural.  Blair said on his radio show, “I am not a racist individual, but… to depict the biggest picture on that building as a black person, I would have to ask the question, ‘Why?’”

By Saturday morning, Blair had been fired from his job at station KYCA for his remarks.  A rally was held at Miller Valley School, and locals, including a former mayor, are calling for his resignation from the city council.  In a final bit of good news, thanks to all the media attention this story has received, the school has decided to restore the mural to its original state after the “lightening process” began last week.

The mural, painted by a student group called “The Mural Mice,” depicts actual students who attend Miller Valley School.  I can only imagine what a tumultuous week this has been for them.  It remains to be seen whether Blair will have the dignity to resign over this gaffe, but if Prescott residents have their way, he will.  Maybe he can do a few hours of community service to make it up to them?  I hear there’s a mural that could use some touch-ups.

Photo: Prescott News

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About carolyncastiglia



Carolyn Castiglia is a New York-based comedian/writer wowing audiences with her stand-up and freestyle rap. She’s appeared in TONY, The NY Post, The Idiot’s Guide to Jokes and Life & Style. You can find Carolyn’s writing elsewhere online at and The Huffington Post. Read bio and latest posts → Read Carolyn's latest posts →

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0 thoughts on “Arizona School Center of Racism Debate

  1. melissa says:

    It’s a relief to know the school apologized– but let’s be honest. They should never NEVER have let it get to the point where they have to own a single apology on this subject. How many people have to agree to create a racist situation? The answer is more than ONE. Thanks for posting this Carolyn.

  2. tobias frent says:

    Some nice audio from Steve Blair’s radio show including the now famous:

    “I am not a racist but………,” line as well as a conversation with fellow councilman John Hanna’s wife Sherry.

  3. Art Sheppard says:

    Prescott, Arizona City Councilman Steve Blair should be ashamed of himself. Why is it that some people insist on trying to live in a racist white world devoid of diversity and color. Mr. Blair probably would only be satisfied if the mural depicted only Caucasion children with sky blue eyes only. I’m reminded of the struggles for equality and representation of the 1960′s with Dr. Martin Luther King.Dr. King was a great man. He along with other brave men and women, transformed American society from a fake democracy into one in which all people can participate and achieve. The miraculous aspect of his great work is that he transformed an openly racist culture into one of tolerance almost overnight and led a spiritual transformation of our nation.
    I once met Dr. King when I was a teenager. He led a protest/picket campaign against a supermarket chain, in a community where I lived that refused to hire black teenagers as “Bag boys” in its stores. I was one of those teenagers. I met him after a speech he presented at a local movie theater prior to the protest campaign. I got to talk to him one on one. I relive and retell this meeting and conversation in my book, “Talking Penny.” I’ll never forget the words he said to me.

  4. Lisa says:

    I am sooooo embarrassed to live here right now….I thought we were better than this, and we have enough boycotting going on as it is…what a shame, what a shame

  5. Karl says:

    What’s embarrassing is the inaccuracy of the first paragraph of this article. The local politician did not start a campaign to have the faces lightened so that they looked white. Carolyn, how could you get this so wrong? Is it ignorance, or are you intentionally twisting the story? While I don’t support what Steve said I think the mural is an eyesore and I hope it comes down. I went to that school when I was a little kid and I know there is plenty of wall space on the inside of the cafeteria for this and any other graffiti the diversity crowd wants to force down our throats. That, or maybe this “artist-guy” should paint this thing on his house. Either way, the thing is ugly and I will help pay for the sand blaster…

  6. Jennifer Littrell says:

    I came across a good debating resource that allows you to post comments and cast votes either for or against the New Immigration Law of Arizona without prior registration. I really recommend it:

  7. George says:

    When the situation gets out of control, only reactionary, strict measures can work. This is the situation of Arizona. It’s too late for comprehensive immigration reform, it must have been done at least 3-5 years ago…Arizona Go!!!!!!

    People, please, share your thoughts on

  8. ann05 says:

    George, how on earth does painting a (legal resident) black kid’s portrait whiter help you with your “immigration problem?” Oh right, it doesn’t, it just makes you racist.

  9. Reality Check says:

    Are you people kidding me? Get a clue. How is it that we have to jack up the sales tax 18% to pay for schools but this dreadful piece of so-called art is able to get funded out of school monies? And furthermore, if you want to accurately depict the ethnic make up of the area, it sure as hell better have white people in it.

  10. Does ANYONE in D.C. actually READ bills or laws anymore???…

    I found your entry interesting do I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)

  11. Does ANYONE in D.C. actually READ bills or laws anymore???…

    I found your entry interesting do I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)

  12. Does ANYONE in D.C. actually READ bills or laws anymore???…

    I found your entry interesting do I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)

  13. Benito says:

    “All Men are created equal”! The founders had it right, when attempting to form a perfect union and they also knew that they were not there yet but knew we one day would get there. Lincoln moved us forward as did JFK and LBJ. This Nation was founded by men of many nations and backgrounds. It was founded on the principle that all men are created equal, and that the rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.

    It is my contention that this AZ law is not constitutional and will fail when challenged (unless, of course, they keep adding more amendments), pretty funny for this so called perfect law, that many internet blogs claim it was copied “Word for Word” from the Federal law, which I frankly do not believe, if it was then no amendments would have been made, right?, of course.

    As for the undocumented workers, as was attributed to Ronald Reagan “It’s the Economy, Stupid”. When the economy is good we say let’s all celebrate “Cinco de Mayo, my brothers” but when the economy is down “it’s all your fault, you damn immigrant”. This too will pass. The real problem is the narcos, arms and people smuggler that’s what the focus should be on.

    Don’t you find it funny that no one ever voted for Brewer for Governor, it’s all about politics and getting elected, do not be fooled. Busy Brewer has passed S.B. 1070, no permit conceal weapons law, the famous Birthers law, banning Ethic studies law, (could she be behind the Mural in Prescott, Arizona) and if history is a lesson she should look up Arizona’s House Bill 2779 from two years ago (which failed when legally challenged) and the craziest one the boycotted Martin Luther King Day, not wanting another holiday, how crazy is that. I believe there is an undercurrent to their enactment of new laws, they real love following a distinct pattern. Poor Brewer, last week, she first she said her Dad had died in Germany fighting the Nazi in World War II (war ended 1945) and we find out her father never was in Germany and died in California in 1955 (watch the spin doctors go into overdrive) and then she went to Washington and came back empty as always, poor dear.

  14. [...] back in June when an Arizona school was pressured by a local politician and radio personality to remove children of color from a mural depicting local students.  It’s mind-boggling that this type of thing still [...]

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