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SF Board of Education Will Hear the “Life of Washington” Mural Tonight
by Paint Down Washington High's Racist Mural
Tuesday Jun 25th, 2019 12:54 PM
Reflection & Action Committee, Native & Black community and Allies say Paint It Down and No Cover Ups!
sm_life_of_washington_racist_mural_san_francisco_washington_high_school.jpg
SAN FRANCISCO, CA, June 25, 2018 – Members of the SFUSD Reflection & Action Committee, SFUSD Native American and Black students, parents and SF Residents will speak on the "Life of washington” (LOW) Murals, located inside the SFUSD High School located at 600 32nd Ave, at the Board of Education Committee meeting located at 555 Franklin tonight at 6pm where a final vote will take place on what the future of the “LOW” murals will be.

The Reflection and Action Committee established and approved the following recommendation about the “Life of washington” murals by a majority vote on February 28, 2019:

1. There shall be a digital archive of the “Life of Washington” mural.
2. Paint white paint over the “Life of Washington” mural located in the lobby, of all panels.
3. The aforementioned painting over of the “Life of Washington” mural should take place before the first day of the SFUSD 2019-2020 academic year.
4. Create a school and community-based committee to decide what new to put up on where the “Life of Washington” mural currently exists (or, if anything new should be put up.

Rationale: We come to these recommendations due to the continued historical and current trauma of Native American and African-Americans with these depictions in the mural that glorifies slavery, genocide, colonization, manifest destiny, white supremacy, oppression, etc. This mural doesn’t represent SFUSD values of social justice, diversity, united, student-centered. It’s not student-centered if it focuses on the legacy of the artists rather than the experience of the students. If we consider the SFUSD Equity Definition, the “low” mural glorifies oppression instead of eliminating it. It also perpetuates bias through stereotypes rather than ending bias. It has nothing to do with equity or inclusion at all. The impact of this mural is greater than what its intent ever was; it’s not counter narrative if it traumatizes students and community members.

The movement to cover the “Life of washington” murals with white paint started in the sixties from the schools’s own Black Student Union and the SF Black Panther Party. Over 80 black students at that school called for the murals to covered in white paint. In 1968, the High’s school’s Vice Principal, Allan Torlakson, stated to the SF Chronicle, “For years, the by-word has always been “I’ll meet you under the dead Indian.” This quote is still being echoed in the halls of this school today.

Three years ago, Amy Anderson and her child, Kai Anderson (he/him) who is a high school student at that school reignited this decades long movement to cover the murals with white paint. Amy, as an indigenous parent bring this issue to the SFUSD American Indian Parent Advisory Council, and they all booked a tour of the murals, did research, and voted to endorse the covering of the murals with white paint. Then for the past three years, the American Indian Parent Advisory Council bring up the issue of taking down the murals time and time again. The Superintendent formed a Reflection and Action Committee with different members from all walks of life.

Indigenous and Black youth who attend that school experience trauma, and PTSD from entering by that front mural in the front entrance everyday for school. Kai Kai Anderson-Lawson, Indigenous High School who attends school there states, “I remember not having the emotional capacity in me to look up at the ‘Life of Washington’ mural in my freshman year. I would look at the floor instead of lookin up to be stressed and reminded that nobody here really cares. The mural is very hard to look at due to the fact that it paints my People as victims. The result is, I feel demoralized and oppressed.”

Kai’s parent Amy Anderson states, “I hear supporters of the mural say painting over it would result in a whitewashing of history. The history portrayed in the murals is a whitewashed history. The images portray American Indians in settler-colonial stereotypes that persist today, as half-naked exotics, half-naked savages, and half-naked defeated warriors. Our history has already been whitewashed in the mural. Demanding that it come down is an act of social justice. When the metaphor of book-burning Nazis is thrown around, I am deeply offended. In that metaphor, I am compared to the Nazi. As an American Indian of Ojibwe, Algonquin, and Ahkaamaymowin Metis heritage, I am acting out of courage and love so that San Francisco can experience unity and healing across all communities. The bottom line is, the mural needs to go. Digitally archive it for historical purposes. Paint over it. Allow for new, uplifting images to take their place.”

All over our country we have been reexamining our white supremacist confederate statues, and here in the bay area we have been reexamining our racist statues and murals. San Francisco took down The racist Pioneer Statue. At Oak Park School in Illinois, the covered a historic WPA mural with white paint because it lacked the racial diversity their school has. Tracy Brown, Mission District leader/organizer/advocate/former SFUSD educator, SFUSD Alumni, speaks about why she supports the #paintitdown campaign on the "Life of washington" murals,"As an advocate for art as a form to spark discussion this mural does not provide this. In this particular case the mural is over 50 years old and does not fit nor represent the SFUSD in their district vision to provide safe and supportive schools. The mural depicts violence and triggers emotional trauma creating an unsafe environment which may get in the way of student learning. This mural has had no teaching significance and should be removed. It belongs in a space that educates and promotes discussion. Violence in any form has no place in our schools." The “Life of Washington” mural promotes a white supremacist ideology that is connected to the mass genocide of indigenous people and slavery of Native and Black peoples.

For more information on this issue, please contact this page:
https://www.facebook.com/takedownthepioneerstatue/

For general information about the “Life of washington” mural, please visit:
https://www.facebook.com/takedownwashmurals/

For our petition please visit:
https://campaigns.organizefor.org/petitions/take-down-washington-high-school-s-racist-mural
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A reactionary decision that marks a new stage in censorshipconfettiSaturday Jun 29th, 2019 11:38 AM

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