Millennials and college students just can’t seem to bear the site of statues dedicated to past presidents and historical figures. Every week, there are different stories of artwork removed after student protests. Several presidents, including founding father and author of the Declaration of Independence Thomas Jefferson, have been targeted by activists — and the statues dedicated to them have been quietly removed or even destroyed.
The latest wave of outrage comes from students in a California high school, who are targeting the nation’s first president. A painting of George Washington is so traumatizing for students that they are asking for it to be removed from sight at once. The difference in this instance is that alumni are supporting keeping the murals in place — stating that they are not offensive and are progressive for their time.
The murals of George Washington that students find so disturbing adorn the walls of George Washington High School in Northern California. There are 13 panels in all, and some students are calling them racist and traumatizing. The murals were painted in 1936 and portray scenes from the time of the nation’s founding, including the president the school was named for. Two of the panels are so traumatic that students want them to be removed.
The targeted panels depict scenes from the 1770s. One shows slaves working in a field in the background, the other shows George Washington speaking to Native Americans. Benjamin Franklin is also included in one of the paintings. A group of teachers and students have called for the immediate removal of all 13 panels because they represent “white supremacy”, not a historical moment or image.
According to the traumatized, frightened students:
“We come to these recommendations due to the continued historical and current trauma of Native Americans 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’s focused on the legacy of 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 its intent ever was. It’s not a counter-narrative if [the mural] traumatizes students and community members.”
The removal of murals based on the reasoning provided by the students and teachers doesn’t sit well with many alumni, who passed by the murals daily and emerged from the school unscathed by the experience. A recent petition was delivered to the school board and governing body and detailed why the murals should be retained. It reads:
“I ask the San Francisco Board of Education Superintendent and Commissioners to reject the proposal to paint out or dismantle the Victor Arnautoff “Life of Washington” murals in George Washington High School, a priceless example of WPA art painted by a left-wing artist and unusually progressive for their time. The murals include forthright depictions of the injustices experienced by Native Americans and African-Americans during Washington’s lifetime. ”
While students continue to demand removal, there is no final decision of whether George Washington’s historically accurate images should be removed from the high school bearing his name at this time.
~ Conservative Zone