Colonizing efforts seek always to obliterate the peoples they dominate. My sister-in-law, a Ukrainian, was prohibited from speaking her native language by the dominant Russians during the Soviet Era. A former co-worker of mine, a Crow Indian, was prevented from speaking her people’s tongue by the priests and nuns of her elementary school. There is no shortage of historical examples of cultural suppression. Conquered lands and conquered peoples themselves are to be a tabla rosa on which a victor’s history of imperial aims is portrayed through a whitewash of benevolent intentions.
This peculiar and predictable narrative continues to play out in Prescott, Arizona where an artist’s mural at an elementary school in a predominantly white neighborhood has come under censorious consideration. The artist’s inclusion of a Latino child prompted a request from school administrators to “lighten” the complexion of the child. The reason cited by these administrators is, they claim, artistic considerations.
Given the demographics of Arizona’s population—a Latino majority—you might not think the inclusion of one dark hued face in a mural would warrant outcry from a Caucasian enclave. It is a dismal commentary on Arizona, and by extension on the United States, that the presence of a non-Caucasian cannot yet be seen as representational of community and continues to be viewed as provocation.