It has been a tradition for over 20 years that a mural with Vanderbilt’s head coaches is painted on the side of a local business. In pictures past there has been no problem, but the NAACP and new Vandy head football coach Derek Anderson himself, took exception with how he was represented in his new addition to the building.
“We realized it was reminiscent of the minstrelsy era in which black people’s skin was darkened and their lips were made whiter in order to exaggerate their race in order to put them in a sharp contrast with the white race,” said Akailah Harris, president of the Vanderbilt chapter of the NAACP told the Tennessean newspaper. “In the mural, his skin is black, not brown, and his lips are white. It doesn’t look like him.”
“I don’t believe the painting is representative of me, personally,” Mason told the Tennessean. “But if that’s somebody’s depiction, then so be it. There are still freedoms that are still allowed in this country, but when I look at it, I don’t think that’s an accurate depiction of me.”
The artist who painted the mural says that the fact that the painting was done from a photograph without meeting Mason in person, like he usually creates his act, may have led to the skewed depiction.
— The Tennessean (@Tennessean) March 31, 2014
The local chapter of the NAACP started a petition and the Mason’s picture will be redone.
I see where the painting is reminiscent of those done in the era when the minstrel-like depiction of African Americans was the norm and I’m glad it will be changed. But somehow I also think the NAACP in Tennessee has far more pressing issues that may warrant their attention and protest.