Everyday Items reflect stereotypes of “Them”
Exhibition helps viewers identify, resist subtle hate messages
Stereotypes: Martin Luther King, Jr. said it eloquently – “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Prejudice and hate are not only reflected in the current political climate; they have long been promoted through items as innocuous as a souvenir postcard or a Halloween costume.
From Oct. 14, 2017 through March 11, 2018, the Arab American National Museum (AANM) presentsTHEM: Objects of Separation, Hate and Violence. This exhibition explores artifacts and images from the early 20th century to the present day that reflect and encourage stereotyping and discrimination.
Created by the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Mich., and expanded in conjunction with AANM, this exhibition exposes the prevalence of stereotyping in our society and helps visitors resist these messages. A related public program is set for Oct. 21; see details below. Please note: The content of this exhibition may not be suitable for all visitors.
THEM: Objects of Separation, Hate and Violence showcases items from popular culture – including those sometimes excused as “harmless fun” – that are used to stereotype various groups such as Arab and Muslim Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanics, Jews, poor whites and those who are “other” in terms of body type or sexual orientation.
Through 35 separate framed pieces and 15+ additions for this AANM presentation, THEM tackles some of the most contentious, cultural hot-button issues: anti-Arab and anti-Muslim sentiment, Holocaust denial, “don’t ask, don’t tell” and immigration. The exhibition is an extension of the Jim Crow Museum’s philosophy of utilizing objects of separation and negativity to teach tolerance.
“It’s our hope that viewers will leave the exhibition with a heightened awareness of these seemingly harmless items, and how they negatively affect individuals, communities and American society,” saysElizabeth Barrett Sullivan, AANM’s curator of exhibits. “We encourage viewers to think critically about these items and their hateful messages. We also urge people to discuss this exhibition with their friends and family, and confront those who, for example, use oppressive or racist language on a regular basis.”
This exhibition follows up on the success of the Jim Crow Museum exhibition Hateful Things, comprised of artifacts from its collection. David Pilgrim, the founder of the Jim Crow Museum, says THEM responds to questions he received from people who saw the previous exhibition, which focused specifically on imagery demeaning to African Americans.
THEM: Objects of Separation, Hate and Violence also includes items that negatively stereotype African Americans, but that is only a part of the exhibition’s larger picture. “I’m hoping THEM shows discrimination and stereotyping is not just a black/white issue — it’s more pervasive than that,” says Pilgrim.
THEM: Objects of Separation, Hate and Violence
Oct. 14, 2017-March 11, 2018
Lower Level Gallery
Arab American National Museum
13624 Michigan Ave., Dearborn, MI
Free with Museum admission
Related public program:
Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017
Hikayat: Personal Narratives of Race, Identity & “The Other” live storytelling + FREE workshop (ages 14+)
4-6 p.m. Storytelling workshop FREE with RSVP
Participants will explore the art, significance and essentials of storytelling and construct their own story by focusing on topics of race, identity, being the “other” culture, confronting stereotypes and more.
6-7 p.m. Gallery stroll: THEM: Images of Separation, Hate and Violence
7-9 p.m. Live storytelling $8 AANM Members, $10 general public
Enjoy an opening reception with light refreshments and hear some of the most inspiring and talented storytellers in the metro Detroit community share their personal experiences on topics of race and racism, identity, culture, confronting stereotypes and being labeled “the other”.
To RSVP for the workshop or purchase tickets for the live storytelling, visit http://arabamericanmuseum.org/hikayat.
For further information on the exhibition, visit www.arabamericanmuseum.org/THEM.
The Arab American National Museum (AANM) documents, preserves and presents Arab American history, culture and contributions.
AANM – an institution of Dearborn, Mich.-based human-services agency ACCESS – is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums; an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution; and a founding member of the Immigration and Civil Rights Network of the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience.
The Museum is located at 13624 Michigan Ave., Dearborn, MI, 48126. Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday; noon-5 p.m. Sunday. Closed Monday, Tuesday; Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Admission is $8 for adults; $4 for students, seniors and children 6-12; ages 5 and under and Museum Members, free.
Visit www.arabamericanmuseum.org or call 313.582.2266 for further information.