Jim Crow Museum
1010 Campus Drive
Big Rapids, MI 49307
Although I have not visited your museum in person I would like to if I am ever in your area. I did however view the online gallery. I read a couple of your letters of the week, and some of your replies. You seem like a balanced guy.
My opinion of the gallery is that the images are beautiful. Don't jump to conclusions, I'm not saying that I find racism or hate or brutality beautiful, but I didn't find the images to be distasteful given the time in which they were crafted. Some of the images of course are obviously "racist" -- i.e. the KKK propaganda. I found some hard to know how to take, like the black boy's face in the middle of the dartboard. But for the most part 95% of the artifacts I see as a part of our past, nothing to be ashamed of. In fact I find our current situation in race relations to be more shameful.
I think afroamerica has come to deny the facts about themselves, their appearance and their past and easily dismiss those "facts" as racist. Is it racist for me to say that most black people have bigger lips than whites? Is it racist for me to say that most black people love watermelon and fried chicken? Because I've got friends from all over the world and nobody loves watermelon and fried chicken more than blacks do. I love it too.
The caricatures of the blacks in your museum are exaggerated, most caricatures are. But apart from the images which I myself find to be somewhat offensive, the caricatures are not so far out there. My point being this: I love the idea of your museum, I think its really cool that you are preserving classic americana and I think that its good that you post a commentary about the pieces. But being the current trend in race relations in the country, a display such as this throws red flags for me as a white american raised in the post civil rights america.
Like I said, I have never been to your gallery, but I just hope that it's not an experience that makes gullible white americans walk away feeling guilty and dirty. That would be a waste of a good art gallery. We are all becoming more conscious, and we should not have the past thrown in our face by "self serving" or "identity seeking" purposes.
Thanks for all of your efforts,
best of wishes,
-- September 14, 2007