The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), part of the Smithsonian Institution, has released a shocking new infographic that deems “self-reliance,” “the nuclear family,” “the scientific method,” “the Judeo-Christian Tradition,” “hard work,” “rigid time schedules” and “holidays” as a part of whiteness and white culture.
The infographic is titled “Aspects & Assumptions of Whiteness & White Culture in the United States” and was created as a part of its “Talking About Race” initiative.
The infographic makes the claim that “since white people still hold most of the institutional power in America, we have all internalized some aspects of white culture – including people of color.”
What are these internalized aspects of white culture?
The document breaks down the supposed areas that whiteness has institutionalized and infected into 14 categories. These include “rugged individualism,” “family structure,” “emphasis on scientific method,” “history,” “protestant work ethic,” “religion,” “status, power and authority,” “future orientation,” “time,” “aesthetics,” “holidays,” “justice,” “competition,” and “communication.”
Regarding the “family structure,” apparently the nuclear family perpetuates racism since it claims a father and mother with 2-3 children is a good thing. Additionally, the documents state the idea that “children should have their own rooms, be independent,” is also part of being white.
Under the section on the scientific method, the infographic claims that “objective, rational linear thinking,” and “cause and effect relationships” are a product of whiteness.
In the part discussing work ethic, NMAAHC states that “hard work is the key to success,” and the common phrase “work before play” is part of white culture.
Moving on, in reference to “future orientation,” the document claims that planning for the future and delayed gratification is a part of whiteness.
Allegedly, justice is also rooted in racism because it is “based on English common law,” and “protects property & entitlements.”
One wonders if the executives at the NMAAHC would be upset if vandals stole property from the museum? After all, it claims its property perpetuates white culture.
Conservative commentator Mollie Hemingway responded to the infographic on Twitter. “Stunningly racist,” she wrote.
As part of the initiative, NMAAHC encourages discussions on “whiteness.” The website for the campaign states that “Socially and politically constructed, whiteness is not simply referring to skin color but is an ideology that reinforces power at the expense of others and strengthens systems of oppression.”
Additionally, the Talking About Race website gives a binary option for how one can deal with racism: either be a racist or be an antiracist. If one is not actively an antiracist, the website states that the person must be a racist.
“Being antiracist results from a conscious decision to make frequent, consistent, equitable choices daily,” the website states. “These choices require ongoing self-awareness and self-reflection as we move through life. In the absence of making antiracist choices, we (un)consciously uphold aspects of white supremacy, white-dominant culture, and unequal institutions and society.”
Following the myriad of attacks that we have seen of vandals dismantling and destroying statues of Christopher Columbus, Abraham Lincoln, and Ulysses S. Grant among others, some argued that the safest place for the statues would be in a museum, where people could learn about the historical figures without honoring them.
If non-racist people are actual racists, like the NMAAHC concludes, it seems that not even museums may be safe for statues, or anything else, after all.
Update: Since the publication of this article, the NMAAHC has decided to remove the infographic which had caused widespread outrage. In a statement, the museum said the infographic did “not contribute to the productive discussion.”
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Photo from BrianPIrwin / Shutterstock.com
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