Local business encourages equality and unity with event Saturday - East Idaho News

Local business encourages equality and unity with event Saturday

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Graffiti Beauty and Barber located in Rexburg. | Courtesy Brandee Gordo

REXBURG — An east Idaho woman is helping organize an event encouraging equality and unity after she found a racial slur painted on a building.

Graffiti Beauty and Barber, located at 111 West Main Street in Rexburg, will be hosting an event called “Graffiti Day.” It will be on Saturday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the business. It’s a celebration of equality, art and culture. There will be free tacos and giveaways too.

Erin Gilbert from Sugar City is helping organize the event with the owners of the business.

“We are just trying to do something in our community that can have everybody come together and know that there are good people here,” Gilbert said.

Gilbert explained a recent situation that happened near the home she used to live in. Last month, she moved out of her home with her family. She has three children and two of them are African American. The day after she moved out, she found a racial slur painted in red on a nearby building.

The writing said, “I don’t like (racial slur).” There was also a phallic symbol painted above the words.

“I don’t know if it was directed towards my kids. I really hope it wasn’t because that’s sad. It was just so hurtful,” she said.

Erin and her two boys
Erin Gilbert with two of her children. | Courtesy Erin Gilbert

The paint with the racial slur was reported to the Madison County Sheriff’s Office. A spokesman with the Madison County Sheriff’s Office told EastIdahoNews.com the case is still under investigation.

Gilbert, along with other moms and children, painted over the slur so nobody would have to read it.

“It feels like it should be a safe place for them to be, but apparently, there are still some people out there that don’t know better,” Gilbert said. “That’s just kind of our goal is to get the word out there like, ‘Hey, you don’t know how this affects people. You think it’s just a word.’ It really is heartbreaking.”

That’s why she’s encouraging people to come to the event on Saturday. She said in addition to the event, there will be a “Chalk on the Block” activity, which begins at 8 a.m. on the same day.

It’s a sidewalk art competition outside of Graffiti Beauty and Barber, which will have a theme reflecting harmony and equality. Chalk will be provided, and the art needs to be finished by 4 p.m. Whoever wins the competition will get a $500 cash prize.

“I think as a community, it’s our job to be unified in our stance on what’s okay and how to treat people,” said Brandee Gordo, owner of Graffiti Beauty and Barber.

Gordo explained her husband is Hispanic, and they have biracial children. Her husband is a co-owner of the business, and they have been hosting the event for the past three years.

Brandee Gordo Family
Brandee Gordo and her family. | Courtesy Brandee Gordo
inside graffiti
Inside Graffiti Beauty and Barber located in Rexburg. | Courtesy Brandee Gordo

“Our whole goal with opening a business called ‘Graffiti’ was to introduce some different culture to Rexburg and to provide a place for people no matter what walk of life you are from,” Gordo said.

Leading up to the event, Gordo created a video and interviewed several people in the community about what equality means to them. Watch in the player above.

She is looking forward to the event and said it grows each year.

“It is something to celebrate our community and give back to our community and also introduce culture that isn’t normally readily available here,” Gordo said.

people helping
People in the community cleaned the wall where the racial slur was found. | Courtesy Erin Gilbert
bad words on wall
The paint that was found in August with a racial slur. | Courtesy Erin Gilbert
kids helping take it off
Kids helped remove the racial slur on a wall. | Courtesy Erin Gilbert