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Pickaninny Stereotype Breaks My Heart

***The staff of the Jim Crow Museum receives dozens of letters and emails. Some of these communiques offer insight into race relations -- historically and in the present. While some are hateful, we have decided to share some of these letters and emails with our Internet visitors.***

Dear Dr. David Pilgrim,

Hello. How are you? My name is Annelisa Purdie, and I am a History student at New York University. I came across your website numerous times over the years, fascinated by what I've found on its pages. Just recently, I completed a paper on the "pickaninny" stereotype and its role in American literature (I chose the topic). I know that you probably get letters like this all of the time, but I wanted to express my gratitude towards you for your work with the museum. I think that it is important for us as Americans to realize where all of these racist icons came from, and to understand how little we have actually changed. Just because racism is more covert does not mean that it is dead. The pickaninny stereotype in particular breaks my heart, not only as an African-American, but also because I love children. To see them demeaned in such a way disgusts me, but again, I realize that it's important to learn. I look forward to visiting the museum in the future. Thank you again, and keep up the excellent work.

Best wishes,

Annelisa J. Purdie
-- May 18, 2011