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You Are a Racist

***The staff of the Jim Crow Museum receives dozens of letters and emails. Some of these communiques offer insight into race relations -- historically and in the present. While some are hateful, we have decided to share some of these letters and emails with our Internet visitors.***

Sir . . . Your response isn't unexpected. But indeed very wrong. I absolutely support your work of collecting and preserving a large and important segment of Americana. I have several books on the subject myself, and it is the reason I had occasion to visit your web site, much to my dismay.

What you fail to take into consideration in your analysis of black Americana is the time in which it was popular. The nature of much of it suggests a feeling of innocents borne not by rampant racism but from misunderstanding. Much of it is extremely fanciful such as the Golliwogg dolls which you describe as "grotesque." I offer that this caricature is no more grotesque than a white raggedy ann and andy.

Your theory seems to be that any black caricature that does not accurately depict an African American in finite detail must be automatically racist when in fact it is likely in many cases to be no more than just a fanciful character who happens to be black. Your string of questions confirm a closed mind and suggest that you have never looked at your site or your collection with anything other than jaundiced eyes, and fail to see that there is more hate in your analysis of the purpose of your museum than in most of the historical items which you are blessed with the job of collecting and displaying.

If you fail to see the racism that fouls your site, then no amount of explanation from me will correct that. There is so much to be learned from your museum, much of which you have apparently missed. But if you view it as entirely ugly then you certainly are not making the most of your rare opportunity and great responsibility, to not only teach but learn, and show no true understanding of the times and circumstances which gave birth to them.

Your description of the museum and its purpose will do more to breed hate then it will to achieve harmony. Unless your site is intended for this purpose, then your stated purpose is indeed only "perceived." Black Americans do not have a monopoly on being offended by biased generalizations.

Robert W. Weidner, Jr.
Philadelphia, PA
-- June 19, 2006