'Race' exhibition at Chicago History Museum challenges what we think we know

Friday, 10 November 2017, 11:39:35 PM. With the timely “Race: Are We So Different?” the Chicago History Museum aims to show visitors that what we think of as race is more of a social construct than a scientific one.
The provocative “Race” exhibition that opens Saturday at the Chicago History Museum has been around for a decade now. But it’s a pretty safe bet that this nation will keep such a show, which aims to explain what race is (a social construct) and isn’t (scientifically valid), forever relevant. The exhibition — fully titled “Race: Are We So Different?” — debuted at the Science Museum of Minnesota in 2007, just ahead of the country electing its first black president. Since then the United States has witnessed the systematic disparagement of that president, the emergence of the movement and the successor president finding moral equivalency between white supremacists and those who protested their presence in Charlottesville, Va. In other words, even if some of the show’s timelines stop in 2005 or ’06, the exhibition feels fresh. The facts may be old-school, but the truths are au courant. “For some people, it will be new information that race is not a real thing,” said Joy Bivins, the museum’s director of curatorial affairs. “We are invested in it, and it’s how we talk. “As a society,” she added, “we often think we’re done with race, but then things will happen that show we’re really not.” Indeed, the concept of “race” is woven into the very fabric of the country, the exhibition shows, a system devised to justify the mistreatment of darker-skinned Africans brought here as slaves and Native Americas moved off of their land. A hint of ire occasionally seeps through. “‘All men are...Read more
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