Monday, January 23, 2017

Withrow Vandalism Defaced a Historic Landmark

Photo by, GFDL

If you live in My Cincinnati, you probably know about the vandalism at Withrow High School. I'm a Withrow alumnus, so the vandalism, the overt racism, the vicious intent struck me as particularly senseless. When I heard about the incident, my still nerdy little Withrow heart broke a little. My eyes teared up as I hummed the Withrow Alma Mater. 

"Gentle slopes and lofty towers,
radiant in the sun.
Arching bridge and shaded valley,
All our hearts are won.

Withrow's beauty,
Withrow's splendor,
fill our hearts with pride.
Love for you, our Alma Mater
ever will abide"

Okay, so humming Withrow's Alma Mater might sound like emotional overkill, but the racial/racist implications are pretty overwhelming.

Withrow is beautiful

I graduated from Withrow over four decades ago. Still, I have clear memories of sitting in those shaded valleys and marveling at the beautiful flowering trees and bushes. I remember "sitting in" around the tower the day after Martin Luther King was killed and marching with my class over the arching bridge on my graduation day. Withrow has always been beautiful, even when a nearby construction project had students joking about changing the "..tower against the sky" lyrics to "...tower against the Regency." 

In case you didn't know, Withrow is also listed as a historic landmark in the National Register of Historic Places. The main building, tower, bridge, and grounds have been beautifully preserved. Over time, the old stadium, gymnasium and other structures were replaced with modern versions. Beautiful Withrow is located on Madison Road at Erie Ave., in a busy Hyde Park intersection. It's the most visible structure in the neighborhood, so, I have a few questions:
  • How did this happen?
  • How come nobody in the neighborhood noticed it was happening?
  • Does anyone know who did it?

Back to Normal?

The vandals who spray-painted racial slurs, swastikas and "Trump" high and low across the Withrow High School grounds could have been adolescents who just didn't know any better or teens who just didn't care. They could have been local Alt-Right, KKK, or Neo-Nazis, or simply a band of racist drunks. We may never know all the facts.

By Sunday evening, a crew had eliminated all traces of the offensive markings. Local media had reported stories from the site. On Monday morning, Alumni and well-wishers rallied at the school to show their support.

In time, things should get back to normal. Except, it's the kind of incident that burrows into your brain, leaving an unforgettable imprint and no room for closure. How do Withrow, the students, the school alumni, and the Hyde Park community return to normal after this racist incident? 

This is why we march!

If you're on that GOP bandwagon that demands every American accept Trump for who he is and be good citizens, If you believe that we should stop marching and protesting and stay at home and be nice, the Withrow incident should help you understand why we just can't do that. If we do nothing, incidents such as this will become our new normal. 

We can't pretend that Trump doesn't inspire appalling behaviors. We must hold him accountable for acts performed in his name. We must insist that he stop them by speaking out against the behavior he promoted. Trump's campaign rhetoric uplifted and empowered racists. His inauguration inspired them. He can make them stop. 

Until then, we must continue our protests. We must march for what is right. 

Still Love My Cincinnati, Carol, The Nice Lady

Photo by Greg Cameraman Reese 

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