The mayor of an Ohio city believes race relations in his town would be improved if the black silhouettes on the side of a water tower were painted over. Democrat Tom Mackin of Perrysburg, Ohio said during a Tuesday city council debate over an upcoming paint job on one of the city’s water towers that it’s time to paint over the black silhouettes because of “negative racial overtones.”
The black silhouettes, which depict parents playing with their children and adults being active in the community, are painted on the side of the water tower that sits along I-75 10 miles south of Toledo. In February, city administration, faced with the news that the water tower needs to be painted as required by the EPA, announced that it would have a redesign discussion and that was when Mayor Mackin gave the first indication of going woke over the water tower design by telling the Toledo Blade that the city had received “criticism about that design.”
During Tuesday’s city council meeting, Mackin laid out the criticism in detail, including the fact that people have made the joke on social media that the only black people in Perrysburg reside on the water tower.
“From my perspective, I’m not the right person to speak on the rights of the African-American because I’m as white as everybody up here, but if one African-American said that, ‘Hey, I would feel more welcomed if a stigma that exists is removed by the city,’ that that would be a step in the right direction,” Mackin told council.
“If we as a community can put something up there that does no harm, we can take one step further to saying we are a welcoming community.
“I get the sentiment of why people like [the silhouettes], but the administration moves that those aren’t up there.”
(Mackin begins his defense of painting over the black silhouettes at the 25:30 mark.)
Councilman Cory Kuhlman noted that the problem in this circumstance is definitely not the black silhouettes on the side of a water tower.
“I don’t want anyone to feel unwelcome in our community,” Kuhlman said. “So we have a water tower with black silhouettes. If we’re going to have a grown-up conversation about it, we have to address what the joke is. The joke is that there are not many black people in Perrysburg and the people on the water tower are the few that live here.
“When I look at that sentiment, to me it’s not the water tower that’s the problem. Racial jokes are going to be made no matter what we do and changing a water tower is not an appropriate reaction to that. Changing the culture that we live in, in our community, and trying to harbor diversity here, which I think our administration is doing a great job at, by the way — I’m not taking a shot at that — but changing a water tower, because one joke is being made, is not fixing a problem,” Kuhlman added. “Most jokes hurt when there is a hint of truth to them.”
By the end of the night, council members had voted in favor of keeping the silhouettes, but they will now be painted cobalt blue to match the city’s new rebranded logo colors. The painting project will cost $438,725.