What Students Are Saying About: Controversial Murals, ‘Senioritis’ and a 17-Foot Python

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What Students Are Saying About: Controversial Murals, ‘Senioritis’ and a 17-Foot Python

I believe the school should not paint over it the murals, but instead have a plaque explaining the history behind these photos. Example, “This picture explains how, though he was a valiant general, George also kept slaves …” or “ this dead native american shows the hardships the natives have faces and still face to this very day from the white people.” I think the murals should stay, and continues to show our ugly but very true american history.

George Siokos, Masterman Philadelphia

@George Siokos George, but is it worth having to walk under murals of dead kin everyday. Is it worth being reminded everyday that your ancestors were not even considered human. I respect your opinion, but I believe that history can be taught without bringing people’s self esteem down.

Tino K., Masterman Philadelphia

@George Siokos I think you make a very fair point that these are pieces of history and they definitely had a lot of effort put into them, and that is something that should not be overlooked. This is a very hard question, and I can definitely see how one could take either side. You certainly shouldn’t just get rid of something that someone put a lot of work into, especially if it is historically valuable, but is that really more important than making students feel safe and not discriminated against at school, which is supposed to be one of the safest places in a kid’s life? It would be nice if there were a compromise, a way to preserve the art while also upholding students’ self confidence. Of course, you’re certainly entitled to your own opinion, but in the end, I feel that it is more important that all students feel equal than it is to save paintings that degrade certain racial groups.

Sivan Frankel, Masterman School, Philadelphia, PA

@George Siokos I totally agree. Even though these murals can be offensive, they express a part of our history. They shouldn’t be destroyed.

Kaya Perelman, Masterman, Philadelphia

I think that the murals should get taken down if people are actually getting offended. Some people might say that kids need to learn about these events, which is true. But they can just learn about them in class. If nobody cared about the murals the if would be different because no one would be harmed by them. But people are feeling dehumanized by the murals and that’s not right. So I think that since people really care about these murals and are offended by them then they should be gotten rid of.

Sabrina Mintz, Masterman, Philadelphia

@Sabrina Mintz While I agree they should be taught about in class, they can’t be taught and forgotten about, the events need to be acknowledged and remembered. History is history and it cannot be changed, the best we can do today is learn from them and that’s a reason the murals should stay, it’s so we can remember the events and not repeat them.

Benjamin Chiem, J.R. Masterman – Philadelphia, PA

@Sabrina Mintz I also agree, the murals are still a part of history no matter how the events are described. It’s better to learn about history, compared to just hiding from it and trying to forget about it. People need to be aware of how it used to be, and how far we’ve gotten in our present time.

Benga Oni, JR Masterman, Philadelphia PA

I think that the murals should stay in the high schools because the past is the past and there is nothing we can do about it. Not all of history is good, and we need to learn how to accept that. Of course some of these murals may not honor or have a positive purpose, but history was not smooth and either should these murals be. If the artist wanted to create something that depicts a darker time in history, so be it. We cannot sugar coat the past, for it happened.

Sophia, Masterman

@Sophia It’s not about changing the past … We are still taught history in our classes after all. I think we should view the situation through scientific point of view. For example, if we just accepted the murals even if people found this offensive, would not this be evolutionary stasis? We wouldn’t evolve or gain anything by acceptance which would leave us in stasis. However, if were to remove the murals, we would evolve in a way of intelligence. We would be more intolerant of racism and the such.

Yeah it seems small to remove one mural, but what about the kids who go that school? It probably would affect them to some degree at least. Remember the Galapagos islands? It was only one minor change; a drought. To the world, this drought in the Galapagos was nothing. However, to the finches living there, it sure was a big deal!

… Humans are no longer primitive anymore. I don’t think we are dealing with issues of physical evolution anymore, but instead evolution regarding intelligence.

G Jap, Masterman School, Philadelphia PA

A symbol of resilience

For me, The murals remain us a part of the history and help us to be stronger. That remind us to understand how difficult it was for the ancestors to g fought to enjoy the privilege. Together we are strong.

Dorrotie 3A, YC CLIP

@Dorrotie 3A I agree with you all the way because history makes up what we are now and does make us stronger. True statement.

Teddy Santos, Julia R. Masterman

Remembering the past to face the future

In my opinion, if something happened, there is no point in trying to cover it up under the wraps of time. For example, in the case of the murals, George Washington did fight in (what I believe to be) the 7 Years War, and did command Native Americans, who were, at the time, employed by both the British and French forces. Also, George Washington did own slaves, as did many of his contemporaries, it was just a product of the times.

A good example of why we should not try to shield past blemishes from the people of the youth is the Armenian genocide of 1915 to 1917. Adolf Hitler used the reasoning that, if no one remembered the Armenian Genocide, (which they hadn’t) no one will remember the Holocaust. He said “After all, who today remembers the genocide of the Armenians?” All in all, those are my thoughts on why we should not try to get rid of the mistakes of the past, because if we do, history is bound to repeat itself.

Jonah A., Masterman School

@Jonah A.This is a wonderful comment

Hank, Philadelphia, PA

@Jonah A. I agree with how you related the Armenian genocide and the Holocaust to this issue. As with both genocides, genocides with these natives should not be forgotten, and it being placed on the walls of the high school, should not be removed to never forget what early Americans did to natives.

George Siokos, Masterman Philadelphia

@Jonah A. I strongly agree. The past isn’t something we should hide and keep in the shadows. It is something we should always pay attention to and grow from. Without knowledge of historical events, we may repeat the same mistakes, which wouldn’t have a great result on the later future

Abibat Lateef, Julia R. Masterman

@Jonah A. Well written, and great background. I definitely agree about not covering up our history, because why hide what has already been shown?

Naiima Jabati, Julia R. Masterman, Philadelphia

Do these murals belong in a school?

I feel like it really does matter that these murals are in high school. We are intended to learn a lot in high school so if we do see murals that depict such bad actions then the students will be influenced more than they are already. As a student i understand that our minds are still developing and very easily manipulated. If these murals would be anywhere else like in a government office building, hospital or a courthouse the adults that are in those places already know right from wrong, they already have a formed opinion of their own. Unlike the teenagers that walk the halls of this school.

Ciarah Torres, Iuka Mississippi

@Ciarah Torres I agree for the most part, but I believe that if these murals are thought of as offensive it doesn’t matter where they are. I also believe that it doesn’t matter what your age is, you can still be manipulated or convinced of something if you’re exposed to it enough. Besides these minor details I agree with your comment.

Samuel Hamilton, Masterman

Having these types of murals in a school might be a little harsh especially because teenagers are just developing. Instead of just having a mural, it would be nice to have a little excerpt somewhere explaining what is happening in the mural. During history, students should learn about the murals, too and discuss their views.

Jessica H., J.R. Masterman School, Philadelphia, PA

@Jessica H. I agree with you. We should not try to cover up history’s mistakes. We should try to learn from them.

Justin T. Liu, Masterman; in Philly

@Jessica H. I totally agree. We can’t just ignore these things, no matter how hard they are to accept. Also, having extra information about the murals is an excellent idea. It is important for the students to understand what they are seeing and why it was created.

Anya Finlay, Masterman- Philadelphia, PA

Learning about the good and bad parts of history

I recommend that the school remove the murals from the school. I think they should paint a new mural showing different aspects of George Washington’s life that aren’t as offensive.

Christian, Walla Walla High School

@Christian I can see where you are going and it is a good line of thinking yet it still honors George Washington, and to honor a person you must honor them entirely in all that they have done, don’t you agree? Really, in my opinion, it would just end up with the same result as Washington was a slave owner and a man who oppressed many people and you can’t really ignore that. Still, your point is valid as the murals depict a cruel and offensive part of Washington’s life and evoke emotions amongst the people who are members of the groups he oppressed so it makes sense to immediately want to get rid of it, yet history is history and it is important to acknowledge atrocities done by people whom we honor and revere.

Reza Chity-Guevara, Masterman, Philadelphia, PA

@Christian I respect your opinion but if you want to glorify a person such as George Washington, you should know his entire personality/beliefs and what he did in his lifetime. By just showing the aspects of Washington’s life that cutting out how he harshly treated others, a false understanding of his personality can be interpreted with his heroic side showing only.

Hope A, Masterman, Philly

I believe the murals should stay. There are few reasons for this. The first and most obvious one is that they have historical importance. They were painted a long time ago and lots of other buildings and art from the past are still being protected today. Another reason is that it is educational. Lots of teachers and textbooks make George Washington out to be a great person, but learning about the bad things he did is also very important because no one is perfect and we all have our mistakes. The final reason is that we shouldn’t sugarcoat history. No matter what happened, we should still learn about it. These murals are in a high school. They are for sure old enough to realize that this is what happened in the world. That’s why they should keep the murals.

Tierra G., Walla Walla, WA

@Tierra G. I couldn’t stress that point enough. I agree with you when you say that these murals carry so much historical importance. This is such an important part of our history and we can’t just tear it down. The students need to be able to learn from these paintings and censoring the past won’t make it easier. Keeping these pictures up will help us from ever backtracking into our old ways.

Maeve McNichol, Masterman, Philadelphia, PA

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