On Understanding Race

racecoverRace: Are We so Different? is a travelling exhibit developed by the American Anthropological Association. Thankfully, Cincinnati is a location on the tour.


I visited during the first week with both anticipation and eagerness. The closing of the first film set the stage by challenging visitors to think and reflect one’s own views. For an exhibit that isn’t physically large, my two-hour engagement caused me to reflect for days.


The exhibit, divided into 3 sections (historical, biological, and currently) allows visitors to determine their own order. Interestingly, and to my surprise, race wasn’t defined; yet it is clear that race is complex, shaped by choices and stereotypes, and misconceptions besides determining who we are and how we interact with one another.


Random Notes

  • The exhibit has a wonderful Web site.
  • This video hit me hard. The YouTube video below is a news report about the filmmaker, while the link is to the exhibit’s video.
  • I didn’t finish the exhibit, but plan to return … and hopefully engage in discussions with other visitors.
  • I didn’t consider myself a racist, but this exhibit helped me see how most of us really are.
  • Philadelphia and Los Angeles are the next tour stops for 2009; here’s the entire tour schedule.  


Image courtesy of the American Anthropological Association and video courtesy of YouTube.

10 thoughts on “On Understanding Race

  1. Afrankangle – this is a great post. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

    As someone who comes from a very diverse family it is easy not to see race – you simply don’t see it in a group with which you’re safe. What binds us all – black, white (American and European), Asian, East Indian – is our culture. Most of us also practice different religions so which can cause some very passionate conversations but we decided that we should visit each other’s houses of worship once or twice a year and listen.

    We’ve now come to the conclusion that despite our seemingly very different beliefs the core of all our religions are the same whether we are Anglican protestants, catholic, Muslim, Hindu, seventh day Adventist, Methodist.

    As a family we love to do most of the same things and eat the same foods and other cultural things and that binds us together in a way that race can never separate us.

    It is hard to explain to someone that even though someone is black and embraces their blackness; or someone is white and embraces their whiteness – with a mother of father and extended family that is of another race a portion of all those races value system and culture is embedded in your spirit and soul and cannot be separated unless by choice. So it is interesting to me that the culture in America (and elsewhere) looks at a person, sees their race and by some miracle think that they understand or know that person’s values or thought process. You can look at a black person make an assumption then meet their family and realize that their value system is more European, Asian, Native America, East Indian, African or whatever based on their culture.

    Using race as a dividing factor is a choice. Race truly is insignificant and not even a thought in the broader scope of life and love.

    Thanks for bringing some light to this very complex yet simple issue.



    • Paulette,
      Thanks for your thorough comment … many good points. Best of all, I like your final statements: (as I paraphrase), it’s a complex issue, we as individuals have a choice, and it is (and should be) insignificant in the real picture of life and love.

      Thanks again Paulette for visiting and commenting.


  2. Great post. I like Paulette’s reply to this, too.

    I come from a somewhat diverse family, but as you know from reading my blogs, I can’t stand prejudgemental people in terms of the judging of one person’s race or religion. That’s exactly what Paulette explained in her reply, and that’s where it many times becomes an issue. I really have nothing to add because between the both of you, you pretty much said what was needed here.

    Nice post Frank.


  3. I believe that race and racism is quite possibly the most complex question we can discuss in America, ironically in part because knowingly or not our own race has an influence on how we view the issue. I’ve literally spent hundreds of hours with people of various races discussing their views on the subject. It’s my opinion that two people can have different views on race and/or racism and both be correct based on what their perception and experiences are. It sounds like the exhibit you refer to has put much thought into what they are doing. It would be interesting to look at if it were to come to Chicago.


  4. Thank you for leaving this link on my site. I appreciate it! I also enjoyed what Paulettee had to say.

    As someone that’s spent 30 years living outside the USA and working across four continents…I’ve seen far too much of not only racism, war, famine and genocide. Using race as a dividing line is ridiculous.

    I was once asked “Are we really that different?” My answer was an immediate “NO”…as we all desire basically the same things.



    • You’re welcome Michelle … to me, the Race exhibit was very well done and meaningful.

      It’s not only a difficult subject, but (as you well noted) not unique to America. Everyone needs to do a lot of soul searching on the issue.


  5. Pingback: On Civil Rights and Baseball « A Frank Angle

  6. Pingback: On Racism in the News « A Frank Angle

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