Friday Roundtable Zeroes in on Racial Equity in Park City

Jul 10, 2020

After a Black Lives Matter mural on Main Street was vandalized, Park City officials held a discussion about race as part of their Friday Roundtable.


Park City’s Main Street was adorned with four murals commissioned by Park City Municipal and Summit County Arts Council over the Fourth of July weekend, including one with the words “Black Lives Matter.” By Wednesday morning, it had been vandalized. 


Friday morning the city held an online conversation with the artists to discuss the murals.  


Park City Councilor Max Doilney is a white man. He says he can’t understand what it's like to be a person of color, but he says he tries to look at the world from the lens of his daughter, who is Black.


“When I went up to Main Street and saw that the only parts of the murals that were vandalized were the references to ‘Black;’ it’s emotional,” he said. It’s really hard to think that that’s basically an attack on my daughter. Anybody who’s a parent can understand that there is no greater fear than an attack on your kids. That said, the emails that we’ve received come from an emotive place. They come from a place where people are frankly pissed off on one side or the other. So when you have that kind of emotion, logic gets lost. It’s really hard to have a conversation. It’s incredibly important that we all have these conversations as often as possible so that each person can tell their story, and explain why they’re so frustrated, with whichever viewpoint they carry.” 


Doilney added that emotional reactions don’t lead to the best conversations unless they come from a place of vulnerability and acceptance. 


Aljay Fuimoano was the artist who painted Black Lives Matter at the top of Park City’s Main Street. He says as a Polynesian man he gets judged by his appearance often while living in Utah. 


“There’s a lot of history in the things that us as colored people—not just Polynesians but Hispanics, Native Americans—and we’re all in this same boat of we need that racial equality,” Fuimoano said “We’re trying to fight for that. So straight to the point, I put Black Lives Matter right on the street. If you look closely inside the painting there’s a rose, a dove and then two hands shaking, which represents love, peace, and unity.” 


Fuimoano says he also used sunset colors to represent the end of racism, and that he put the word ‘Lives’ in a box to emphasize the importance of lives. He says he looks forward to making adjustments to his work the second time around. 


Mayor Andy Beerman said that conversations about race make people incredibly uncomfortable, meaning often the conversations don’t happen at all. He says that the emphasis on social equity in the community and the murals have helped spark much-needed conversation for growth in Park City. 


“Our community’s been doing this equity work for the last three years, for which I'm grateful because I believe we built some capacity to have the difficult conversations that are bubbling up right now,” he said. “One of the things we've found is it's very hard to get all sides of the conversation brought in. There's a group that disagrees with some of this equity work or feels like maybe it’s misunderstood. But more importantly, they don't feel like they're having a voice in the conversation. Yet, I think we feel like it's been very difficult to bring their voice into the conversation and make them feel safe to express their feelings and us to be able to work through this broadly as a community. I will say I've heard more diverse voices since the time these murals have hit the street.” 


The full conversation can be found on the city’s Facebook page.