May 6, 2009- According to a recent New York Times/CBS News Poll, two-thirds of Americans grade race relations in the United States as “generally good” – a marked increase over the last several months that many attribute to the election of President Obama. More proof of this change is evident in the success of RACE, a public education program of the American Anthropological Association.
The project consists of a traveling museum exhibit, an interactive website (www.understandingRACE.org), and downloadable educational materials. RACE Teacher’s Guides are in use across the country and new curricular materials are being developed with input from experts and various school systems.
Teaching Race and Unlearning Racism
The goal of the project is to definitively explain the history and contemporary relevance, and create an ongoing national dialogue, about race. When asked how it can help to address racial inequalities, Yolanda Moses, Co-Chair of the RACE Advisory Board, responded:
Education and dialogue are essential steps for solving any problem, and we as a nation still have a lot to learn and discuss about race. Contrary to common belief, the idea of human races is only a few hundred years old; a powerful relic of the American colonial past. Everyone should know this because it implies that disparities in health, wealth or educational achievement simply do not reflect innate or natural differences. Instead, they result from barriers that we as a society have created for some, and not others, based on physical and cultural differences that often say little about a person.
RACE provides a framework for understanding and appreciating our differences. The election of President Obama suggests we’re making progress toward racial equality. It signals that ideas about race, including racism, are learned, and therefore can be unlearned. RACE takes us further down that road.
The traveling exhibit just wrapped up in Cincinnati. The next stop will be the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. The tour, which launched in 2007, was set to conclude at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in 2011. Due to overwhelmingly positive response, a replica and smaller version of the exhibit are being produced. Beginning in 2010, they will join the tour, which has been extended until 2014.
To learn about RACE and unlearn racism, please visit www.understandingRACE.org.
For a complete listing of the original tour dates near you, please visit: http://www.understandingrace.com/about/tour.htm