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Smithsonian’s African American History Museum online portal helps people talk about race

smithsonian talking about race

The Smithsonian‘s National Museum of African American History and Culture has launched a new online portal called ‘Talking About Race‘ to help people explore issues of race, racism and racial identity.

‘Talking About Race’ is designed to help people, families and communities talk about racism and racial identity, and the way these shape society, from economy and politics to culture.

The online portal offers digital tools, online exercises, video instructions, scholarly articles and more than 100 multimedia resources for educators, parents and those committed to racial equality.

The museum moved up the release date of ‘Talking About Race’ in response to a flood of racially charged incidents and acts of police brutality resulting in the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd.

‘Talking About Race’ comes after death of George Floyd

“Since opening the museum, the number one question we are asked is how to talk about race, especially with children,” said Spencer Crew, interim director of the NMAAHC. “We recognize how difficult it is to start that conversation.

“But in a nation still struggling with the legacies of slavery, Jim Crow laws, and white supremacy, we must have these tough conversations if we have any hope of turning the page and healing. This new portal is a step in that direction.”

According to the museum, research shows that many people feel they don’t have the necessary information to talk about race in a candid, safe and respectful way.

“The portal offers a wealth of resources to inform and guide discussions – videos, role-playing exercises, targeted questions and more,” said Crew. “We hope that people will use this site to become more comfortable about engaging in honest dialogue and self-reflection.”

Helping people talk about racism and racial identity

‘Talking About Race’ is the result of research, studies, consultations and educational resources from history, education, psychology and human development.

It includes published research from leading experts, activists, historians, and thought leaders on race, equity, and inclusion.

The first phase of the portal includes eight foundational subjects, as follows:

  • Being Anti-Racist – a conscious decision to make regular and consistent equitable choices.
  • Bias – prejudice toward or against something or someone.
  • Community Building – connecting and engaging with other people doing anti-racism work and exploring issues of race.
  • Historical Foundations of Race – how race, white privilege, and anti-blackness are woven into the fabric of American society.
  • Race and Racial Identity – how societies use race to establish and justify systems of power, privilege, disenfranchisement, and oppression.
  • Self-Care – caring for your mental and physical health to sustain the work of dismantling racism.
  • Social Identities and Systems of Oppression – systems built around the ideology that some groups are superior to others.
  • Whiteness – an ideology that reinforces power at the expense of others.
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Bea Mitchell

Bea is a journalist specialising in entertainment, attractions and tech with 10 years' experience. She has written and edited for publications including CNET, BuzzFeed, Digital Spy, Evening Standard and BBC. Bea graduated from King's College London and has an MA in journalism.

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