Things That Matter

Vandals Destroyed A Hispanic Heritage Month Mural At Duke University And Here’s How Students Fought Back

Mi Gente / Facebook

Hispanic Heritage Month, also referred to as Latinx Heritage Month, is from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 every year. It is meant to give recognition and praise to the accomplishments that Latinos have made in the U.S. The current political climate has been hostile to the Latino community and a recent even at Duke University shows the necessity of proudly owning ones Latinidad.

Latino students at Duke University wanted to show off their Latino pride for Hispanic Heritage Month.

CREDIT: Mi Gente / Facebook

Mi Gente is Duke University’s official Latinx student organization, which celebrates and organizes events around Hispanic Heritage Month. According to Sujeiry Jimenez, a co-president of Mi Gente, one of the events is “Pintando Murales” where students participate in the bridge painting.

“This mural functions as a sense of pride and acknowledgment of the Latinx community at Duke. It is used as a way to highlight the beginning a time when our culture is celebrated nationally,” Jimenez says. “It also serves as a way to publicize Latinx Heritage Month to the Duke community and extend an invitation to our programming for the month.”

The mural was defaced less than 24 hours after it was completed.

CREDIT: Mi Gente / Facebook

Jimenez says that the group was unaware of any negative sentiment toward the mural. The mural painting is something that the organization does every year. According to Jimenez, there has never been a negative reaction in the past.

FBI data shows that hate crimes have risen since President Trump won the 2016 elections. The NAACP has credited the increase in hate crimes to Trump’s own legacy of division and racism. According to reports, Trump’s name has been invoked by people carrying out hate crimes against different communities.

Jimenez isn’t completely surprised by the vandalism, however.

CREDIT: Mi Gente / Facebook

The increase in hate crimes across the nation have been tied to increased negative rhetoric about immigrant and minority communities. The Southern Poverty Law Center directly blames President Trump’s rhetoric about minority groups as the cause of increased hate crimes. Communities facing the surge of hate-related violence share the same sentiment.

“Fears of incidents like this happening were very present in our community as other minority communities at Duke had already been victims of targeted crimes,” Jimenez explains. “I felt devastated but not completely shocked. Incidents like this had happened at Duke not long before this. Before classes even started this year, the Mary Lou Williams Center for Black Culture was also the target of an act of hate speech.”

The students, rather than shying away, repainted the mural as an act of fighting back against the hate.

CREDIT: Ana Trejo / Facebook

Jimenez says it only took a few hours to report the vandalism, send a message to organization members and reconvene to fix the mural.

“As a both a leader and member of the Latinx community it was very powerful to see the response not only from our own community but from the larger Duke community,” Jimenez recalls. “We, as a community decided to write over the spray paint, but not with the intention of covering it up. We wanted to send a message of resilience and show that we could rise about the hate. Then, we recreated our mural to the side of where the original one was.”

They decided to send the vandals a message of their strength while letting the hate show.

CREDIT: Mi Gente / Facebook

Jimenez says the group choice the phrase, “They tried to bury us. They didn’t know we were seeds.” because of it’s cultural significance. For many Latinos, the Mexican proverb has been in their homes and at their demonstrations.

“We have to keep fighting. Engage and empower your communities. Show up and stand up for your community. This is all of our fights,” Jimenez says. “This is going to be a long fight, but we must work now so that future generations can continue and build on the work we start today! We must create space in spaces that were not created for us. Póngansen las pilas y échenle ganas, la lucha sigue.”


READ: Felony Hate Crime Charges Have Been Filed Against The Man Who Harassed A Woman For Wearing A Puerto Rico Flag Shirt

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

Culture

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

librarymail / Instagram

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.

Credit: artdecoca / Instagram

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.

Credit: @katwalkssf / Twitter

“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.

Credit: @chatandcutt / Twitter

“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.

Credit: @thehill / Twitter

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

An Anti-Violence Muralist was Shot and Killed in Oakland and the Community Wants Answers

Things That Matter

An Anti-Violence Muralist was Shot and Killed in Oakland and the Community Wants Answers

Violence
Wayne Freedman / Twitter

Antonio Ramos was a muralist who worked with middle schoolers to promote non-violence through art.

https://twitter.com/stopbeingfamous/status/649981050022690817

He and his team were working on a mural titled “Boy with Power to Heal and Stop Violence.”

They mural was going to be big – 4,000 feet BIG.

Ramos was working on the mural when a passerby started an argument.

#AntonioRamos

A photo posted by Paul Callis (@paw.l) on

During the argument, the stranger shot Ramos multiple times and fled.

And a makeshift vigil has been erected in his memory.

Fellow artists are promising to finish the mural and dedicate it to their fallen comrade.

You can see a video of the unfinished mural below:

Credit: George Kelly / Youtube

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