This weekend we were reminded that racism and hate crimes are still alive in our own backyard.
Popular Toronto-based street artist Evond Blake, who works under the pseudonym MEDIAH, had a piece of his most recent, still unfinished work vandalized by racist graffiti.
The artist was invited to participate in a public art project and create a mural as part of the Cambridge International Street Art Festival.
He left his artwork on Saturday night at around 11:30 p.m. When he returned to it the next morning, he found that it had been covered by a hateful message.
According to a Facebook post by the artist on Sunday morning, festival organizers suggested he paint over the message and continue to complete the painting.
He decided to leave it as it is, the piece now a chilling symbol of the racism that continues to exist in society.
Here’s his post:
“Check this out. I was invited to Cambridge for a street art festival and look what somebody wrote on my unfinished piece. There are around 11 other artists painting here and only mine was vandalized. The organizers and the residents want me to ‘paint over it’ and get rid of the racist vandalism but I think not. They can’t stomach the bitter reality of racism in their town so they want it covered. I’m done here…time is money and more importantly time is finite. I can’t waste it, especially when the spirit of my artwork has abandoned the surface and left the town. Bye!”
While the story is maddening, disappointing, and frustrating, the positive news is that Blake hasn’t let the incident stop him from creating art.
Yesterday morning, he posted an image to Facebook of a new, collaborative piece of public art in Cambridge.
Another piece of positivity comes from the widespread response to the incident. At time of writing, the post had been reacted to 4.6 thousand times, and had 1737 shares and 22,00 comments. The messages have been predominantly supportive and up-lifting.
As for the cowardly, small-minded vandal, the Waterloo Regional Police Service police are currently looking into the incident. Personally, I think it’s unfortunate that the culprit wasn’t caught on camera – that’s one case of social media shaming I could have definitely gotten behind.