The Wall to Keep Black From WhiteJuly 25, 2021
The story behind Detroit Wailing Wall is a beautiful example of how art can be used as a weapon to fight white supremacy. This street art piece was created by retired Detroit Police Officer Calvin Shafer, who often stopped black teens in his area for “aggressive driving”. The white teen would get out of the car and would berate the officer on the side of the road. Shafer kept the teenager confined for days, making him aware that he was being punished for something he didn’t do, rather than for the color of his skin.
When the teenager came home one day, he wanted to tell his mother that he didn’t want to keep black, he wanted to be white. His mother was hurt by this, and she told him no more than four times. Finally, Shafer got angry and took the brick down from the wall. His mother, in an attempt to save face, decided to paint over the offending brick, which totally hid it from view. Shafer has never explained why he did this, but it was done with love and with the spirit of a great leader.
Detroit Wailing Walls is a national phenomenon, bringing thousands of black Americans together to peacefully protest the ugly manifestations of white supremacy in our society. Some of the signs read “White power”; others scream” Niggers get out of my hood!” And still others have slogans such as “We are Number One!” It’s amazing how many of these messages are on bricks that are placed on city streets. These walls are being called nooses, and they have been causing trouble everywhere they have gone.
One man was arrested after trying to build a fence to keep black children away from a white girl. Another was arrested after trying to stop a group of kids from stealing white trash cans. In Philadelphia, a 12-year-old boy was beaten, and his father arrested for hitting him because he was wearing a “Black Power” t-shirt. And in Alabama, a high school cheerleader was beaten up because her white shirt showed a logo used by the white power group called the KKK.
But it’s not just cities that have built these walls to keep black people out. Even the largest city in the United States, Los Angeles, has had its fair share of problems when it comes to race and color. After all, it is just not possible for one group to control all of the cultural activities in a city. In fact, it makes more sense to build a wall to keep cultural activities separate from those that are based on color.
Why is this? Because some groups can become too powerful when they use their power to divide people, when they use their power to single out someone because of color or race, and when they use their power to suppress entire groups of people from certain ideas or speech. In Los Angeles, for example, there are lots of Hollywood producers that keep black folks off of Hollywood Boulevard at all times, even though most of the street is perfectly fine. In this case, it was not a physical wall built to keep black people out, but rather a cultural wall that was built to keep black folks from being a cultural pawn in the hands of the entertainment industry.