You Are a Racist
Sir . . . Your response isn't unexpected. But indeed very wrong. I absolutely support
your work of collecting and preserving a large and important segment of Americana.
I have several books on the subject myself, and it is the reason I had occasion to
visit your web site, much to my dismay.
What you fail to take into consideration in your analysis of black Americana is the
time in which it was popular. The nature of much of it suggests a feeling of innocents
borne not by rampant racism but from misunderstanding. Much of it is extremely fanciful
such as the Golliwogg dolls which you describe as "grotesque." I offer that this caricature
is no more grotesque than a white raggedy ann and andy.
Your theory seems to be that any black caricature that does not accurately depict
an African American in finite detail must be automatically racist when in fact it
is likely in many cases to be no more than just a fanciful character who happens to
be black. Your string of questions confirm a closed mind and suggest that you have
never looked at your site or your collection with anything other than jaundiced eyes,
and fail to see that there is more hate in your analysis of the purpose of your museum
than in most of the historical items which you are blessed with the job of collecting
If you fail to see the racism that fouls your site, then no amount of explanation
from me will correct that. There is so much to be learned from your museum, much of
which you have apparently missed. But if you view it as entirely ugly then you certainly
are not making the most of your rare opportunity and great responsibility, to not
only teach but learn, and show no true understanding of the times and circumstances
which gave birth to them.
Your description of the museum and its purpose will do more to breed hate then it
will to achieve harmony. Unless your site is intended for this purpose, then your
stated purpose is indeed only "perceived." Black Americans do not have a monopoly
on being offended by biased generalizations.
Robert W. Weidner, Jr.
-- June 19, 2006
BACK TO LETTERS