The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture has removed a “whiteness” graphic that ascribed traits such as “hard work,” “self-reliance,” “delayed gratification,” being on time, and politeness to “white culture.”
“Since yesterday, certain content in the ‘Talking About Race’ portal has been the subject of questions that we have taken seriously,” said the museum in a Thursday statement. “We have listened to public sentiment and have removed a chart that does not contribute to the productive discussion we had intended.”
The “Aspects and Assumptions of Whiteness in the United States” poster, part of the museum’s “Talking About Race” series, was apparently intended to be critical of “white culture,” but wound up being slammed as condescending and unfair to Black people for ascribing a multitude of positive traits to “whiteness.”
YouTube host The Officer Tatum, a Black supporter of President Trump, ripped the museum for the graphic, calling it “racist” and an example of “the bigotry of low expectations for Black people.”
“Why in the world would the African-American museum put out this document?” he asked in a Thursday video. “Simply allude to the fact that every great quality that you ever could imagine is only white people, like Black people have no good qualities. That’s what this article is saying.”
Other qualities attributed to “whiteness” included “reliance on the scientific method,” “rugged individualism,” and “nuclear family,” as well as less flattering attributes like “Women’s beauty is based on blonde, thin—’Barbie,’” and “Win at all costs.”
Project21’s Horace Cooper accused the museum of trying “to offer advice to cripple Black America.”
“To call those [skills] somehow a racial category would make David Duke proud,” said Mr. Cooper on Fox News Channel’s “The Ingraham Angle.” “This is really, really sad.”
The criticism wasn’t only on the right. The liberal magazine Newsweek took issue with the chart in a story headlined, “In Smithsonian Race Guidelines, Rational Thinking and Hard Work are White Values.”
Others found fault with the museum’s decision to embrace the “white privilege” narrative on the rise on college campuses.
“The problem ain’t the chart,” tweeted conservative pundit Ben Shapiro. “The problem is the entire propagandistic critical race theory effort.”
The National Museum of African American History & Culture wants to make you aware of certain signs of whiteness: Individualism, hard work, objectivity, the nuclear family, progress, respect for authority, delayed gratification, more. (via @RpwWilliams)https://t.co/k9X3u4Suaspic.twitter.com/gWYOeEh4vu— Byron York (@ByronYork) July 15, 2020
The problem ain’t the chart. The problem is the entire propagandistic critical race theory effort. https://t.co/G9h2tCXgHw— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) July 16, 2020
#HoraceCooper Co-Chairman of @Project21News was on the @IngrahamAngle last night discussing #AfricanAmericanHistoryMuseum material on #whiteness. It is offensive and harmful. Take a look… https://t.co/CVdhTe3XtJ— DavidRidenour (@DavidARidenour) July 16, 2020
While the museum removed the graphic, the rest of the “Whiteness” section remains on the website, including a video from “White Fragility” author Robin DiAngelo, as well as tips on “Confronting Whiteness.”
“If you identify as white, acknowledging your white racial identity and its privileges is a crucial step to help end racism,” says the website. “Facing your whiteness is hard and can result in feelings of guilt, sadness, confusion, defensiveness, or fear.”
Founded in 2016, the museum showcases a host of Black historical figures and celebrities, but was criticized on the right for opening without any mention of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, a conservative jurist. The museum added him to its collection a year later.
• Valerie Richardson can be reached at email@example.com.
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