The mural depicts a black woman taking off a mask of a white one. It was painted in Białystok in a housing estate where earlier flats of foreigners had been set on fire.
- We want to show that Białystok is a normal city, just like any other, that one can live here peacefully – says Anna Mierzyńska, member of the Normal Białystok initiative promoting multicultural spirit of the city.
It was members of this initiative that Chekosart artists contacted about their idea for the mural. Usually they carry out their artistic activity in Italy; in Białystok, they spend their summer holidays.
The mural was painted on a wall of a four-storey block of flats in the Leśna Dolina / Woody Valley housing estate, where in the past few months flats of a Chechen family and of one whose one member is Indian were set on fire. So far the perpetrators have not been identified. The mural depicts a black woman taking off a mask of a white one. Below the mural, there is a quotation from Kazimierz Przerwa-Tetmajer: ‘Ludzie są równi, tylko nierówność ich dzieli’ (People are equal; they are divided solely by inequality).
- It is a very clear message: a woman takes off her mask; she is no longer hiding and is not afraid to show her face. We want to show that we are all equal regardless of our skin colour, nationality, religion, culture, or customs. Everyone is entitled to freedom – says artist Anna Kitlas.
The case of arson attack involving the family with an Indian member has given rise not only to a series of intensified actions undertaken by the police, but also to social campaigns opposing similar acts of racism and xenophobia. The Polish-Indian married couple participated in such a campaign, and city councillors and municipal authorities held an anti-racist concert ‘Białystok dla tolerancji’ (Białystok in Support for Tolerance).
Source: PAP / Polish Press Agency, written by JHP, 31.07.2013, translated by Małgorzata Pachoł November 2013