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Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by Dr. Cheese, May 26, 2011.
Rep. Jim Moran: Wrong About National Black Museum
Quit getting your articles from The Root! (if only because I can never read them, the site is blocked by my companies network settings)
Anyway you can quote the text into your post, Dr.?
The Root makes me sad..
OK, please someone just tell me before I read it if the article really is thought-provoking, intelligent and maybe poignant, or is it more outrage? I'm totally willing to give it a shot, I just hate disappointment.
Actually, it's not so bad. I really should not prejudge the Root, I just get perturbed sometimes (well...usually) at the writing.
Just read the article, it's not bad.
Granted Jim Moran is a goofball, but the topic itself makes for good conversation.
I only read the headline.....Will White People Go to the National Black Museum?
My answer is a conditional yes. It has to have a section about athletes in it.
The guy is a total goober, but I actually agree with him to an extent (assuming I understand his thesis correctly).
Why should there be divisions of museums that focus only on the adjective before the word American and the people who most identify with that adjective. Black history is a part of American history. Native American history is a part of American history. Irish American history is a part of American history. etc... They all should be housed under one roof where we can all come together as Americans. I doubt this was his main point, or even his point at all, but that's what I took away from the article.
Black folks want their own museums, same with the Native Americans and whoever else. It ain't white folks running around trying to get them built. So half the time, it's people of their own race trying to keep the line of demarcation clear.
Yeah, I hear that part of what he's saying too, but it's not really about "American" it's about cultural experience.
I fully support that.
One thing that I'm not 100% clear on though - is the new Nat'l Museum of African American History & Culture set to REPLACE the Anacostia Community Museum?? Or is it in addition to it?
+1 to this.
There are several reasons why very few people go to Anacostia to visit the Smithsonian museum there. It is inconvenient to travel to (compare its location to the local metro stop) and unsafe. If the historical information is that worthwhile, I'll look it up elsewhere.
On the mall, next to the other museums - sure, I'd go, just like all the other Smithsonians.
I was kind of feeling this as well. I think all aspects of our history should be presented, good and bad so that people may learn from both. Maybe I over fuzzy-wuzzyfied it but I also saw history as something people could come together over; it affects all of us so the potential to learn is there for all. Plus no reason not to make the Smithsonian bigger!
Yeah, but no way could we fit all of our country's history into just one museum!
This is really the single most common sense answer.
This is what I was thinking, too. It's not practical. Each Smithsonian building was packed to the gills already when I was last there. I suppose they could make the new museum part of the Smithsonian, but they'd still need a separate new building. It'd be a distinction without a difference.
I feel like the Representative's assessment that white people won't go to a black museum is a little too generalized. I'd go to a black museum. I'm sure that black people have been to Museums of American History.
I'm not interested at all in Judaism(or any other monotheistic religion) or genocide and I've been to the (very depressing) Holocaust Museum. I don't know a damn thing about art but I've been to art museums.
It seems like this is an issue of equality here. Where is the Latino Museum?,...the Native American Museum? Are those on the Mall along with the Holocaust Museum? The Smithsonian? If they are; then it stands to reason that the mall should also contain a museum dedicated to Black Culture in America. Or maybe should just not have any museums (can museums just be a form of propaganda? [not trying to say anything just thinking critically here])?
Just my two cents.
Please the hacking scene in Night at the Museum 2 clearly showed multitudes of underground storage areas!
In fact, that one DOES exist, and it's on the Mall. I hear it's very interesting.
I'm talking about the exhibit areas. (I didn't see the movie, so I don't know if it was actually filmed there or if you're joking.)
It was kind of a let down when I went.
What I want to know about this proposed museum is where they're going to put it? The Mall's already pretty well packed. The only place really where there's room for it is across the way from the Holocaust memorial, and that's kind of dubious symbolism.
Regarding whose gonna go to it, that depends entirely on the quality of the content in the museum.
Also, here's the text of the article, for those who can't see it.
The Anacostia Community Museum is one of the Smithsonian Institution's grand, federally chartered Washington, D.C., museums, but it is located miles from the Mall's gleaming white marble monuments where millions of eighth-grade history students pilgrimage each year.
It is a world-class museum charged with interpreting and preserving the black experience. But it is tucked away in a remote corner of Washington's poorest, blackest ward. Since it was established in 1967, the museum's surrounding Ward 8 community has served as a glaring metaphor for the black experience: segregated, under-resourced and disrespected. A few weeks ago my husband got lost while driving to meet me there. He rolled down his car window, and flagged pedestrian after pedestrian. "Where's the Anacostia Museum?"
Person after person he stopped replied with blank stares.
In a rant on Capitol Hill earlier this month, Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) railed against these kinds of federally supported ethnic museums -- calling them un-American. According to U.S. News and World Report, Moran went off about the burdens of funding them during a Capitol Hill Appropriations hearing:
Every indigenous immigrant community, particularly those brought here enslaved, have a story to tell and it should be told and part of our history. The problem is that much as we would like to think that all Americans are going to go to the African American Museum, I'm afraid it's not going to happen. The Museum of American History is where all the white folks are going to go, and the American Indian Museum is where Indians are going to feel at home. And African Americans are going to go to their own museum. And Latinos are going to go their own museum. And that's not what America is all about … It's a matter of how we depict the American story and where do we stop? The next one will probably be Asian Americans. The next, God help us, will probably be Irish Americans.
Never mind that the National Museum of the American Indian, as well as the Museum of American History and the National Museum of African Art, for that matter, regularly draw crowds of all races. Still, as the new National Museum of African American History and Culture prepares to open on the Mall in 2015, the challenges and successes of the Anacostia Museum may be instructive. The new museum, led by Lonnie Bunch, will fight for scarce public and private resources and respect. It will fight for collections that could arguably belong in the Museum of American History and other "mainstream" institutions. It will battle the stubborn questions, from black people and white people alike, about why history must be segregated.
But unlike the beautiful Anacostia Community Museum, which is safely out of sight for the most part, the symbolism of the new museum will be impossible to ignore. In addition to usual questions about black worth and legitimacy, it will carry the additional burden of integrating our nation's most elite historic neighborhood.
The eminent cultural historian Fath Davis Ruffins chronicled the decades of fits and starts of establishing a black museum on the Mall in a 1998 article in the Radical History Review. Ruffins pointed out that historians have a lot of catching up to do when it comes to fully documenting the black experience. For centuries, black historic documents and artifacts have been largely discarded or passed down to descendents and often lost to history.
To wit: Years ago, I wrote a Washington Post article that mentioned the existence of a diary of a Maryland slave named Adam Plummer that historians believed was lost to history. One of his descendants, living in Maryland, read my article and came forward with the diary of perhaps the only real-time accounts of a slave life, written by a slave beginning in 1841. She promptly pulled it out of her attic, and eventually donated the diary to the Anacostia Community Museum, which has marshaled the considerable resources of the Smithsonian Institution to preserve and guard it like the Constitution. (Plumgood Productions has done a short documentary about the discovery of the diary.)
How it will address slavery in general is a major challenge for curators at the black museum on the Mall. "Instead of being removed from the 'scene of the crime,' the proposed museum would be erected within sight of locations where slave pens stood during the 1850s and the early years of the Civil War," Ruffins wrote. Permanent exhibits on slavery would be snug between two sacred white memorials to founding fathers George Washington and Thomas Jefferson -- both slaveholders. Awkward!
Moran may be right that white people may not go to a black museum. The whole enterprise may, as he argues, represent the balkanization of American history. One could justifiably pile on, as other prominent black historians have, that a black museum represents the ghettoization of black history. The late, great historian John Hope Franklin, for instance, as Henry Louis Gates Jr. noted, spent a career arguing that his work chronicling the black experience belonged not in "black studies" but at the very center of American history.
Moving on to the Mall will sometimes be awkward and sometimes hostile -- as those of us who have integrated an all-white neighborhood or school know firsthand. The Mall may become "overcrowded" with a cacophony of colors and stories, as Rep. Moran predicted. But a true, comprehensive, warts-and-all account of how America came to be demands it. If it cares about telling the truth about itself, Congress should fully support this enterprise, at any cost.
Writing in 1998, nearly two decades before the dream of a black museum was scheduled to come to life in 2015, Ruffins put it best:
We know the name of King, but we do not know the names of all the others who were murdered trying to vote in the South, or the millions of Native Americans who were killed for their lands, or the millions who were caught up in the bloody maw of the Third Reich. To remember them, all nations build memorials and sometimes even museums.