Calgary artist painting Blackness mural in Chinatown not troubled by backlash

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But some of the hardships continue.

A blue fence wraps around the mural location, which faces the Calgary Chinese Cultural Centre, and private security has been hired to patrol the area after a right-wing media outlet and other groups have harassed the project team and spread misinformation.

“Unfortunately, you have to be prepared for that type of sh—t if you’re painting a mural of Black people in the city,” said Sterling. “It’s sickening because (the media outlet) takes advantage of people who don’t know any better but (they) know better. They know that there are people who don’t know much so they take advantage of their ignorance.”

He said people are trying to “spook” them but it won’t work.

“What Calgary has shown me is it’s not as bad as we think. There are a lot of people out there who wanted us to speak up so they can support us,” said Sterling.

On Saturday, members of the project team were painting details of clouds on the large brick wall with colours of purple, pink and blue. One man yelled from outside the gate perimeter, “Black Lives Matter.”

Sterling said, “see?”

“For every one heckler we get like 20 people to come in and compliment us.”

Pictured is the unfinished mural by Jae Sterling that celebrates black culture in Calgary's Chinatown on Friday, September 4, 2020. Azin Ghaffari/Postmedia
Pictured is the unfinished mural by Jae Sterling that celebrates black culture in Calgary’s Chinatown on Friday, September 4, 2020. Azin Ghaffari/Postmedia Photo by Azin Ghaffari /Azin Ghaffari/Postmedia

Sterling, who has a two-year-old son, is hopeful this will be the first of many murals celebrating the Black community and will create a sense of belonging for his kid and others.

“A lot of immigrant people grow up in this city and when they get to my age they feel like the entire time they were here they had to fight to feel welcomed. And they had to fight to not feel like outsiders,” he said.

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