Letters to the Jim Crow Museum
Your Work is Extremely Valuable
Dear Dr. Pilgrim:
I have wanted to contact you for a while but only plucked up the courage after reading the other letters on your site.
I discover your website by accident but I'm glad that I did as it's something amazing and made me see the world in a different way.
I'm a white born in the late eighties and brought up in multicultural Britain. I was taught to believe that people should be judged by their actions and that cultural difference is something to be celebrated. This made me one of those people who stare at racists crimes and proclaim, "I am not a racist".
A few years ago the British government and the Catholic Church began apologizing for atrocities that happened in the past. This annoyed me. I was angry because people who represented me were apologizing on my behalf about things that happened before I was born. I took the view of a German born academic who said that he would not apologize for the Holocaust because it happened twenty years before he existed.
I distanced myself from all the hatred because I was not there. I never thought about any one else's point of view until I read the accountants of your experience. You wrote about being touched when someone said sorry to you for the items in your museum and I realised that in a way I am a part of it.
"All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing". I would have been one of those people doing nothing.
I cried when I saw that "Alligator Bait" print of the little children. I am a community nurse working health centres. There is a poster of a group of naked multiracial babies that is strikingly simpler to that print. It is used to promoted infant vaccination and the children are naked to emphasise how vulnerable they are. The juxtaposition of these two meanings is truly horrible. To show one set of children that is to be protected and one that is to thrown to animals makes you realise that we went wrong somewhere.
I can not imagine what it would be like to be discriminated against and denied basic human rights just by being born. I hope that this is something can be learned from and that the future will be better.
I would like to lend my apologies to you and all those who were subjugated. I might not have been there but I had I would not have been part of the solution.
I think that your work is extremely valuable. Thank you.Lizzy Matterson
-- April 2, 2009