RACE: Are We So Different? Award Winning Exhibition opened at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences on April 22nd, 2017. It will be available until October 22, 2017. I had the opportunity to be a part of the UNC TVâ€™s RACE Exhibit Black Issue Forum event on April 25th. We had 40 minutes to tour the featured exhibit and then we were led in a guided conversation where we recorded a 20-30 minute discussion with Debra Noel and two of the museums trained â€œCultural Conversationsâ€ facilitators.
The first thing that stood out to me was the way RACE exhibit addressed racism from three different perspectives. There is a historical, scientific and personal experience take on it. It really makes you open your eyes and see things in a different light. I even questioned certain things that I believed to be true. In the exhibit you are sure to see thought provoking pieces that force you to dig deeper for understanding. In one area it mentioned a time when racism didnâ€™t exist and it was hard to imagine.
There was a piece on â€œCreating Raceâ€ where it states that race wasnâ€™t found in nature but made by people in power. Racial classification provided a way to justify privilege and oppression by making inequality appear to be the result of natural differences. â€œRace was never just a matter of categories. It was a matter of creating hierarchies.â€ â€“Robin D. G. Kelley, historian, Columbia University. This of course got me to thinking. Iâ€™ve never thought anyone was born racist and do believe itâ€™s a learned behavior.
I went home that evening and decided to ask my youngest son some questions about race. Here is how our dialogue wentâ€¦ Me: Jo what do you know about race? Jo: Whatâ€™s race? Me: Our biological and genetic makeup. Not to be confused with ethnicity. Jo: Whatâ€™s ethnicity? Me: Our ancestry and cultural makeup. Mommy was born here like you, but Grandma and Grandpa were born in Jamaica. We have African, German & Asian ancestors. Me: What do you say if someone asks what you are?
Jo: a human! Me: What do you identify as? Jo: Jo! Me: Do you notice the differences between you and some of your friendâ€™s skin tone? Jo: Yes, now can you stop asking me questions. Me: Okay, Geez! This conversation made me question if I have failed or am doing awesome at â€œMommingâ€! My son is in 2nd grade and hasnâ€™t really had to deal with racial tension or issues to my knowledge. I always try to keep my children culturally grounded with lots of diversity to help dismantle a variety of barriers that exist.
I plan to take my son to see the RACE exhibit and gently make him aware of some of the issues that are faced in todayâ€™s society or that he may face as a young African American Male down the road. RACE is a great exhibit that gives you interactive displays, historical artifacts, iconic objects, compelling photographs and multimedia presentations to start a great conversation. Youâ€™ll have intriguing questions that youâ€™ll want to find the answers to like the science behind the anatomy of skin color.
Does race play a part in your daily life? If so, how does it affect you?
Visit the RACE: Are we so different? Exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences before it leaves. Admission is FREE even though you need to register for a ticket. The UNC-TV Black Issues forum will air on Sunday May 7, 2017 at 11:30 am on UNC-TV and then again on Monday May 8, 2017 at 5:00 pm. It will be available shortly after on the website to stream. I canâ€™t wait to visit again with my family and hear their thoughts on the exhibit. RACE can be an uncomfortable topic to talk about and this is a great conversation piece. Join the discussion. Start somewhereâ€¦