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Race Exhibit

Last Thursday I visited the Race Exhibit at the Science Museum in Saint Paul. Ever since reading Peggy McIntosh’s essay in our Feminist Frontiers book, I’ve thought a lot about the privileges that I have because I am (actually half) Caucasian (I look more white than I do Asian). The other day in downtown Minneapolis I saw a black woman about my age, maybe younger, holding the hand of a four-year-old black girl and I thought, “I bet most people who don’t know her think that it’s her child and she’s a single mother struggling to make ends meet, whereas if I had a young child by my side, more people might think I was just babysitting.? Situations like this really have been running through my head ever since we began discussing white privilege. Where I come from, in Milwaukee, segregation of races is especially apparent. Like in most cities, there are freeways that divide neighborhoods; cross under one and you can be in a completely different income neighborhood. Driving through Milwaukee one can see the gross inequalities of segregated living, where whites and further north, white suburbanites live in gated houses along the lake, while blacks and Mexicans live in run down housing. Driving through Whitefish Bay, an affluent suburb right outside of the city, one can get pulled over in an instant for being black, or even driving a “junky? car. Police brutality against Mexicans and blacks is another serious issue where I live – and it seems that police are still getting away with it. A lot has to change.

So I visited the Race Exhibit to further understand inequalities between races and genders, and I was so surprised at how much I still had to learn.

I really thought it helped that the exhibit was interactive – it’s a good way for kids to want to learn about these things, and of course I think it’s important to teach kids about this at a young age. There was a place where people could try to identify different ethnicities by skin color flaps, and in most cases I was incorrect. When scanning my skin and seeing it up close next to others who had done the same, it reiterated in my mind how alike we actually are, how are skin and bodies are all made up of the same “materials.? The same fluids run through our veins; the same organs keep us alive.

So the question is: are we so different? No, we’re not, and I think that this exhibit really helps people understand that all races are more genetically alike than we think. Years of evolution and geographical differences/separation have changed the colors of our skin, the shape of our eyes, our height Again, biology loves diversity: society hates it. I was really happy to visit an exhibit that was so thorough, whose facts forced people to confront the issues, and hopefully inspired viewers to go out, get involved, and fight for equality.