Record editorial: Conversation spurred by Black Lives Matter mural is vital
What kind of a community is Park City? What kind do Parkites want it to be?
Those are questions residents are asking themselves after a week of controversy incited by the painting of a massive Black Lives Matter mural on Main Street and its subsequent defacement.
The reaction to both the mural and the vandalism of it were illuminating.
To some, the phrase “Black Lives Matter” spelled out in the middle of Park City’s most iconic street was a rallying cry, affirming the community’s commitment to progress on racial equality, and the vandalism, then, was itself a racist act. Others argued the mural had no place on Main Street simply because the shopping, dining and entertainment strip is not where such a statement should be made. For others, still, the frustration was with the message itself.
Muddying the water further is the question of whether it was appropriate for City Hall to provide the Park City Summit County Arts Council with $15,000 of taxpayer money to fund artwork that ultimately promoted a political message — and “Black Lives Matter” is, in the country’s current climate, a political message.
We believe it was unwise to spend taxpayer money on the artwork, particularly in the midst of an economic crisis with no clear end in sight. Yet we support providing a prominent platform for artists of color during a moment in which minority voices, so often shouted down, must be elevated.
And the artwork itself was important. Black lives matter. Period. Likewise, other murals painted on Main Street as part of the project were also thought-provoking, spelling out “Solidarity,” “Peace, Unity, Love” and “Justicia Para Todos,” Spanish words translating to “justice for all.”
Collectively, they presented a stirring statement in support of equality.
Most importantly, though, they sparked a conversation, the impact of which will be felt long after the paint has faded from the Main Street asphalt.
Our hope is that all of us, whatever our views, use this moment as an opportunity to better understand our neighbors. Parkites must reckon with the fundamental issues of race and equality head on, resisting the human urge to retreat to our respective corners and instead make an honest effort to empathize with one another.
Grappling with these topics and the questions they raise is difficult. Doing so has a way of making obvious all the ways we’re falling short, as individuals and as a community. But if we’re committed to it, it will also show us the path forward, revealing the kind of place Parkites want their hometown to be and how to get there.
Not as individuals who happen to live in the same couple of zip codes. But together, arm in arm, marching toward a future filled with progress, understanding and compassion.
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