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Saturday, April 20, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Huckleberries Online

Confronting hate 1 stroke at a time

Clyde Welcker, 4, smears some gray paint over racist graffiti on the side of a house used for offices at Spokane’s Martin Luther King Jr. Family Outreach Center. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
Clyde Welcker, 4, smears some gray paint over racist graffiti on the side of a house used for offices at Spokane’s Martin Luther King Jr. Family Outreach Center. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

In his column today, Shawn Vestal/SR comments:

With every stroke of a paintbrush, the word seemed to disappear.

The mayor took a swipe. Ordinary citizens did, too. City Council members, clergy, social justice advocates and organizers, children, police and fire officials – all took up the brush.

Each took a swipe against the N-word – spray-painted in bright red on the side of a children’s center named for Martin Luther King Jr. – and with each one, it became harder to recognize that the word had ever been there at all.

But it had. As important as it is for the community to paint it over, it’s just as important for the community to recognize that the word, and the sentiments it represents, did not disappear. It’s still there, under that paint, on the side of that building facing the children’s playground, and the person who put it there is still here, too, underneath the surface of our community, like a cancer inside the nobler ideals that most of us have: that we are a welcoming place, a fair place, a just place, a place that protects the vulnerable and resists the hateful and the ignorant.

Are we that place? It depends on where you look. And how recently it’s been painted. More here.




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D.F. Oliveria
D.F. (Dave) Oliveria joined The Spokesman-Review in 1984. He currently is a columnist and compiles the Huckleberries Online blog and writes about North Idaho in his Huckleberries column.

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