Letters to the Museum

Bamboozled

Dear Professor Pilgrim:

Thank you so much for sending the message regarding "The Garbage Man" essay. It is poignant, beautifully written and very helpful for students grappling with these images. I have made the on-line a requirement for the past few years in my course on THE HARLEM RENAISSANCE, THE BLACK ARTS MOVEMENT (both seminars) and my freshman level INTRODUCTION TO AFRICAN AMERICAN LITERATURE course. Students in the freshman course don't start working on the Museum and satire until mid-way through the course. These are mainly white students, as you might expect in Madison, Wisconsin, and I need that much time to develop the background, talking about theater, blackface minstrelsy, and so forth, so that they will feel safe enough to discuss their feelings about the images and the movie, Bamboozled. This is the one movie I show in class, and the responses are often quite full of pain. Last semester, I was sitting in the back of the room and didn't hear students weeping near the end of Bamboozled. I was surprised when the required review of the movie turned out to be very personal reflections about what they saw and their own feelings about racism. Several of the students said that they cried and some of the black students said they were surprised when their white classmates touched them on the shoulders at the end of the class and said, "I'm so sorry." Thank you for the work you have done on this project. It is especially good for you computer savvy students. I don't visit the museum with them in class. They have to do it on their own, but I do guide their inquiry, making assignments and so forth. "The Garbage Man" will be required reading for them.

Sincerely,

Sandra Adell, Professor of Literature
Department of Afro-American Studies
University of Wisconsin-Madison
-- March 14, 2005


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