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Feedback 12/12 

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Blacks, whites, and racism

On December 3, a white friend of mine got in her car to go to work and discovered that her tires had been slashed and her "black lives matter" lawn sign had been stolen, along with a "black lives matter" car magnet. (Other magnets were not removed).

This crime is another violent, racist aggression against black people, as well as an act of vandalism against a white person who supports anti-racist efforts. Whether the perpetrator was an angry individual or an organized hate group, the attempt to intimidate and silence people of color and their white allies was clear. Hateful narratives do not fit with values of basic human rights.

When considering if and when she should replace her lawn sign, my friend acknowledged that her white privilege allows her to decide if she wants to avoid being a target of racially motivated violence. She recognizes that black people do not have that option; we are always at risk.

The fact that black lives matter is not a "belief." One doesn't "believe" that black lives are important; they simply are. One does not "believe" or "disbelieve" in climate change, because facts are not debatable. In recent years, a courageous group evolved the phrase "black lives matter" into a human-rights call to demonstrate that black lives are important. They did so because we continue to see black lives under- or unvalued in the United States.

Throughout this incident, my friend has experienced a fraction of the intimidation and violence that people of color regularly endure. She described it to me as "eye-opening, humbling, and infuriating." She was attacked for doing the one thing white people are not supposed to do: acknowledging racism.

This is a call to white people to stay vigilant and vocal against racist overtures and microaggressions. Visit and "like" the Facebook page "Rochester anti-racist efforts" to follow local events dealing with the dismantling of white supremacy. Support anti-racist action with your time and your dollars.

One can only be an ally of people of color when they serve and take direction in anti-racist efforts. Every day my friend and other white people continue to benefit from white privilege; instead of hiding behind that privilege, use it to fight white supremacy.

MERCEDES PHELAN

An arts fund? For what?

I'm confused by CITY's article "Arts Support: Beyond a Big-Show Theater." What do you mean when you refer to "1 percent for art?" Assessed by whom? On what projects?

Does the 1 percent include special project design? Why or why not? If the project is of the highest creativity and design (which should be the basic mandate of every project), must it also pay the extra 1 percent to the public coffer? To be used how? Who decides?

Are you supporting purchases of objects? Can older pieces be sold to raise funds? Who pays for maintenance and care of public art pieces already owned by the city or county?

What if the project is small, and 1 percent only amounts to a few dollars? Must a committee or appointee search for "bargain" art to adhere to budgets or could the money be banked toward larger goals?

Will the 1 percent pay for a complete inventory of "public art" pieces in our county? To what goal? A book? A brochure? Publicly available literature or web site? Maintained by whom?

Is there a "public art" commissioner? A spokesperson within the travel and tourist industry who champions Rochester public art? On city staff? At the Memorial Art Gallery? At the Chamber of Commerce?

Is this person paid a salary? What credentials? Does the 1 percent pay that expense?

What kind of "public art" are you talking about? Only objects? Only wall coverings? What about performance? Isn't the Fringe Festival, broadly speaking, a public art performance piece? What about the jazz festival? What about financial support of art organizations? Does 1 percent pay for that, too?

If I wanted to leave a bequest to a public art fund, how would I do that? To whom? What if I simply bought my own piece of public art and found a place on Main Street for installation? Would that be OK? In that case, am I liable for any damages to property or persons? When the property gets sold, who owns the artwork?

Before you begin the topic, some of us need clarity.

SHIRLEY DAWSON

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