Five days before the government s***down, a year and four days after the inauguration of President Donald Trump, a new piece of urban art appeared in north Denver, right by the A Line route east of Colorado Boulevard. Clearly a response to Trump (allegedly) calling certain nations "shithole countries" during a January 11 meeting with senators over immigration policy, it resonated much further. On January 15, this statement about the piece appeared on Transcending Walls, "a hub designed to challenge your equilibrium in regards to race":
happy Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. day everybody. in a speech at stanford in 1967 Dr. King stated that "it may well be that we will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words of the bad people and the violent actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence and indifference of the good people who sit around and say wait on time...social progress never rolls in on the wheels of inevitability."
After KMGH posted a quick story on the piece (editing out "shit"), we contacted Belove, the artist behind both the website and the "shithole" art, to learn more. "Whether he said it or not is not the issue," Belove says. "We have a president calling for a white national state, consistently denigrating people of color."
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And not just people of color: The "shithole" comment was just one in a long line of egregious acts by the president that include mocking a reporter with a disability and trying to ban transgender people from entering the military, he notes. "We have a deeply comprehensive understanding of the sentiment regardless of the actual language."
Even so, Belove continues, "We have the tendency to sweep things under the rug as quickly as we can. We need to feel every day the urgency people feel when statements are made. Every person has a part to play, and I can only do my part."
But in this case, his part was quickly erased. Although Belove says he had permission to paint on the wall — and, in fact, had created the "shithole" piece over another work he'd created — within days it was gone, painted over by the city at the request of the property owner.
But while the piece didn't last long enough to mark the one-year anniversary of Trump's inauguration, Belove plans to continue his work. "I refuse to be silent, or faciltate that silence," he says. "Race must be reckoned with, not run from. And it's the same with our president."