Culture

A San Francisco High School Is Losing A Historic Mural After Backlash Against Imagery And I Shed No Tears

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The United States is currently undergoing a significant transformation. The division of political parties, including having a divisive president, is not helping to ease racial tensions. With so much emphasis on trying to right the wrongs of our country’s embroiled history, many are demanding the removal of several historical statues that glorify racist leaders. Though, it’s not just ending at statues. Paintings and murals depicting the cruelty of this country’s minority population are now being reevaluated with a 21st-century mindset. However, the issue isn’t as cut and dry as it seems. There are others that say doing away with these historical artifacts goes against freedom of speech. That’s the debate roiling at a San Francisco high school.

Last week, a school board in San Francisco voted to paint over a 1936 mural inside a high school that shows the mistreatment of African slaves and Native people.

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The fresco, titled “Life of Washington” is inside the walls of the diverse George Washington High School in San Francisco and it shows the early presidential years of our nation’s first president. But according to those offended by the mural, they say that it glorifies “racism, genocide, Manifest Destiny, colonization, and white supremacy,” according to the National Review.

The 13-panel mural was painted by Russian-American painter Victor Arnautoff who studied and worked under Diego Rivera.

Credit: Public Domain

Arnautoff painted several murals in the city (as did Rivera), but Arnautoff’s pieces are much controversial. As one critic noted, Arnautoff’s painting “depicts the father of our country as also being the father of a genocide later claimed by the victors as Manifest Destiny. It is a position so contrary to the national mythology of the time that I have often wondered how the artist got away with such criticism in a public space.” It seems that time has run out.

The removal of the painting will cost $600,000 to paint over it, but people who are offended by it say taking it down is worth it, regardless of the bill.

“Think of all the families, the children who have walked through there,” Joely Proudfit, professor of American Indian Studies at California State University, San Marcos, told The SF Chronicle.”What images do they see? Dead Indians to the left and African Americans to the right in bondage.”

Historic preservationists say that removing it these works of art is a violation of free speech.

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“We don’t burn great art. It is unconscionable,” Richard Walker, director of the Living New Deal Project, that is currently which is documenting art from Works Progress Administration, told The SF Chronicle.  “It’s something reactionaries do, fascists, it’s something the Nazis did, something we learned from history is not acceptable.”

The school board felt that students of color should not have to subject themselves to that kind of art.

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“Painting it over represents not only a symbolic fresh start but a real fresh start,” Mark Sanchez, vice president of the school board and a third-grade teacher, told CBS News.

However, just because they voted to remove the painting, doesn’t mean it will happen any time soon. The SF Chronicle reports that the vote to remove the mural has brought forth more trouble and will be under litigation.

San Francisco is undergoing a massive and poignant overhaul in the city that is rectifying the audacities of the past and honoring beloved artists of color.

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Just last year, the SF Board of Supervisors voted to remove a street named after James D. Phelan, a racist 19th-century mayor and renamed it Frida Kahlo Way. California Mayor Gavin Newsom held a special event in which he apologized the Native American community for the state’s part in their population’s genocide.

“It’s called a genocide,” Newsom said, according to the Sacramento Bee. “No other way to describe it… I’m sorry on behalf of the state of California.” He added, “We can never undo the wrongs inflicted on the peoples who have lived on this land that we now call California since time immemorial, but we can work together to build bridges, tell the truth about our past and begin to heal deep wounds.”

READ: While D.C. Debates Reparations, California Governor Issues The Long Overdue Apology Indigenous People Have Long Awaited

Lost KKK Tapes Have Been Uncovered By A Journalist And They Are As Bad As You Might Imagine

Things That Matter

Lost KKK Tapes Have Been Uncovered By A Journalist And They Are As Bad As You Might Imagine

Invaluable Auction / Thad Zajdowicz / Flickr

Back in 2012, the daughters of Eugene B. Sloane, a photographer and journalist, came across a piece of uncovered Martin Luther King Jr. history, a never-heard-before recording. After their father’s passing, the women had begun to sort through his belongings, and they’re tucked away in a box sat his original Sony reel-to-reel tape recorder and two reel-to-reel audio tapes. The two tapes, although recorded in 1967, have content that is still relevant today. 

Eugene B. Sloane was a respected reporter for the South Carolina newspaper, The State, who was most well-known for his coverage during the civil rights era.

One of the tapes found is a rare recording of a Klan meeting, that took place the night before a Dr.  Martin Luther King event. 

Credit: Invaluable Auction

That evening, in the summer of 1967, there was a public announcement that a Klan meeting would be taking place; Sloane then taped the recorder to his waist and hid it under a Klan robe, then placed a hood over his head and began to tape the entire meeting. In the recording you can hear the Klan leader, spewing false rumors and hate, making wild accusations that black men are coming to their city to rape white women, this is eerily similar to Donald Trump’s presidential announcement when he stated all Mexicans rapist and criminals. The man on the tape goes on to inflate the crowd sizes saying there will thousands coming the following day, which is exactly the same type of mob mentality that Trump creates when he spreads the same hate-filled lies about “invasions” happening on the “southern border.”

Sadly, the most parallel wording in the recording is when the Klan leader calls for King’s death, “for God help that —- He ought to be shot.” His call to action is then followed by audience applause and honking in solidarity. 

Eight months later, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would end up being assassinated by a white supremacist, with a rifle. 

Credit: Courtesy of Yolitzma Aguirre

On August 3, 2019, fifty-one years after white supremacy took the life of Dr. King Jr., in a mirrored action, the largest massacre of Latinos (in modern history) took place in El Paso, TX, when a supremacist drove 8 hours from Plano, TX – with a rifle – and murdered twenty-two innocent people. In the shooter’s own words, his objective was to “kill as many Mexicans as possible.”

During the most recent Democratic debate, the candidates were asked their thoughts on Trump’s responsibility in the El Paso massacre. Senator Kamala Harris’ response spoke volumes of truth. 

In both assassination of MLK and the massacre in El Paso, white men pulled the trigger and white supremacy was the ammunition.

Credit: @KamalaHarris / Twitter

In 1967 (much like today) racial tensions were at an all-time high. The Detroit riots had taken place a week before King’s Charleston visit. Yet despite all the racist hate hurled his way, Dr. King continued with the Poor People’s Campaign, he believed in the greater good and the work that must be done in order to truly attain equality. 

The second recording in Sloane’s belongings spoke exactly to that purpose. In this newly discovered recording, King discusses the very same issues that we are still battling today. On the topic of racism, he states, “…wherever we live in America, you have to face the fact honestly that racial discrimination is present. So don’t get complacent; certainly, we’ve made some strides, we’ve made some progress here and there but it hasn’t been enough; it hasn’t been fast enough; and although we’ve come a long long way, we still have a long, long way to go.

The 45-minute speech had profound key points on a range of issues, including the fundamental racism in this country, that must be changed, otherwise, freedom is not “free” for us all. He explains the pitfalls in the system, how America likes to say everyone is equal yet not everyone was allowed equal opportunity to attend school, therefore not everyone has equal opportunity to equal jobs, which means not everyone has equal opportunity to earn income, and not everyone has equal opportunity to afford food or a home…and the cycle continues.

If you look at the United States today, it is sad to say, not much has changed since King gave this Charleston speech.

Credit: @Nikki_Lew / Twitter

What the recording leaves us with, is the very essence of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy, that in the end, love beat out hate and fuel our movement. “so I’m not gonna give you a motto or preach a philosophy burn, baby burn. I’m gonna say build, baby build organize, baby, organize. I’ve decided to stick with love…Somebody’s gotta have some sense in this world. And a lot of white folks have demonstrated eloquently that they don’t have no sense and why should we be that way? The reason I’m not gonna preach a doctrine of black supremacy is because I’m sick and tired of white supremacy.

These two tapes that have now surfaced, have been cared for by Sloane’s daughters and will now be released to the public at auction. The sisters reached out to Guernsey auction house – who has handled many civil rights memorabilia, including Rosa Parks’ archives – and made the arrangements to personally hand deliver the tapes themselves, in order to assure the tapes arrived undamaged. 

The tapes, photos, and other items will be placed for auction on September 19th, 2019. 

Over fifty years after his death, Dr. King Jr. continues to be a beacon of hope, a light shining in the darkest hours. 

It has been a little over a month since the massacre took place in El Paso, TX, and in the month, we have seen different communities come together, to support each other in this dark hour, and as the next presidential election approaches we can listen to Dr. King’s words from that 1967 in recording, “build, baby build, organize, baby organize.” 

Already we have seen many groups begin to roll out their 2020 plans for engagement and voter registration. Democratic leaders like, Stacey Abrams – whose midterm race for governor of Georgia became national attention due to voter discrimination – has launched Fair Fight 2020, a voter protection program which will run across 20 states.

READ: These Surprising Facts Will Explain Why Latinos Ought To Celebrate Juneteenth

An Artist In Indiana Is Drawing Iconic Singers And Actors As Aztec Characters And It Is Amazing

Entertainment

An Artist In Indiana Is Drawing Iconic Singers And Actors As Aztec Characters And It Is Amazing

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For the last few years, Jorge Garza has been making a name for himself in the world of art with his Aztec-inspired drawings infused with pop culture figures. Garza’s Instagram page is a showcase of his unique work that includes illustrations of Latin figures like the Chapulín and luchador fighters. He goes by the artist name Quetza as a nod to his Aztec work that he’s heavily influenced by. 

Whether its the graphics, colors, and finishes in his work, Garza’s work is a testament to his knowledge and passion for Aztec art. His work showcases many sharp details and takes a classic process, from pencil sketches to digitization. While his style is varied in some ways from original Aztec style work he still includes details like the use of skulls, snakes, and details of Mexican culture. Garza also has his own online store where he showcases and sells many of his own original designs. Currently, he is working on an art book that will be focusing on his passion of Aztec/Pop Culture. 

While the Northwest Indiana artist has been around for quite some time, he might have gotten his biggest moment yet as his drawing of the “Queen of Tejano” got quite the attention online. Within hours of posting his “Aztec Selena” illustration on Facebook, the image was met with overwhelming attention from fans and strangers alike.  

Anytime you can pay tribute to the queen Selena you’re going to get love on social media.

Credit: qetzaart / Instagram

His Selena artwork was quickly shared and spread across social media with many in return getting to look at Garza’s overall portfolio of work. Upon first posting the sketch on Facebook Wednesday, Garza had no clue that it would receive more than 5,000 shares and well over 3,000 likes.

“I love Aztec artwork and its been a big influence in my work,” Garza told My San Antonio. “I respect Selena and the influence she has had on Mexican-American culture so I uploaded it … and I did not expect the feedback I had. It’s overwhelming.”

He says his viral drawing is a testament to the love and adoration that Selena fans still have even after all these years after her passing. Garza had planned to draw this specific piece for years and felt like now was the perfect time to put together this tribute to the “Como la Flor” singer. 

His collection of Aztec-inspired illustrations come from a special place in Garza’s heart. He grew up with a love for Mexican pre-Hispanic art that he learned about at a young age.

Credit: qetzaart / Instagram

As a young boy living in Indiana, Garza learned about Aztec culture and the complexity of the civilizations during that time period. But it was the artwork during that time that truly inspired him to become an artist. Since then, Garza has devoted himself to learning more about Aztec graphics and culture. 

While he gets inspiration from Aztec history, Garza has also thrown in a bit of his personal for pop culture into his artwork. Whether that’s including characters from X-Men, Batman, Marvel or Transformers, it’s his way of staying true to himself all while paying tribute to the past. 

Besides just illustrations, Garza has shown his versatility as an artist when he previously released a horror comic called Wrath of the Giver. He’s also put out a compilation book of Aztec art and pop culture with some of his best work so far. 

Fans of his work took to social media to share their appreciation for Garza’s latest illustration. 

Credit: @nate_sdsu / Twitter

Garza has proven to be an artistic inspiration to some on social media who are praising him for his work and his tribute to Latin art. There is a growing market for pop culture-inspired work like Garza’s all over the internet and with his latest piece blowing up we’re sure this isn’t the last time we see one of his pieces circulating on social media. 

For fans of Garza’s work, he’ll be at the Big Texas Comicon at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center from Sept. 20-22. 

READ: 5 Years After They Went Missing, The Case Of The 43 Missing Ayotzinapa Students Is Nowhere Near Answered