Tightrope and “Whiteness” Per The Smithsonian’s NMAAHC

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Tightrope and “Whiteness” Per The Smithsonian’s NMAAHC

Post by GeorgeKunath »

Many of us are probably aware that on July 17, 2020, The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (which sits on the National Mall in Washington DC) deleted from its website this chart about “Whiteness” which had just been posted and promptly went viral –

In an accompanying apology, the NMAAHC said –

“It is important for us as a country to talk about race. We thank those who shared concerns about our ‘Talking About Race’ online portal. We need these types of frank and respectful interchanges as we as a country grapple with how we talk about race and its impact on our lives….. We erred in including the chart. We have removed it, and we apologize.”

The chart said that “White dominant culture, or whiteness, refers to the ways white people and their traditions, attitudes, and ways of life have been normalized over time and are now considered standard practices in the United States.”

According to the chart, those aspects include self-reliance, hard work, a nuclear family, respect for authority, and planning for the future.

The relationship to “Tightrope”?

I was reminded of the NMAAHC Chart when encountering Tightrope’s reporting (p. 23) of a Brookings Institution study that found that “of people who follow three traditional rules – graduate from high school, get a full-time job and marry before having children – only 2 percent live in poverty.”

Accordingly, it is easy to see why the NMAAHC Chart created such a firestorm of criticism.

It implied that black culture is the opposite of “whiteness” on each of the points listed.

Per the criticism, this was a terrible indictment of black culture.

Respectfully submitted,

George Kunath – 8/4/2020 – 7:30 EDT

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