Late last week a mural on the wall of a school in Arizona drew national attention because the artists were asked to lighten the faces of the children depicted. Roger Ebert has a beautiful reflection on the controversy and on the progression of his views on race:
I began up above by imagining I was a student in Prescott, Arizona, with my face being painted over. That was easy for me. What I cannot imagine is what it would be like to be one of those people driving past in their cars day after day and screaming hateful things out of the window. How do you get to that place in your life? Were you raised as a racist, or become one on your own?...The hard-won social struggles of the 1960s and before have fundamentally altered the feelings most of us breathe, and we have evolved, and that is how America will survive. We are all in this together.
But what about the people in those cars? They don't breathe that air. They don't think of the feelings of the kids on the mural. They don't like those kids in the school. It's not as if they have reasons. They simply hate. Why would they do that? What have they shut down inside? Why do they resent the rights of others? Our rights must come first before our fears. And our rights are their rights, whoever "they" are.