By Emy Louie. Edited by MM.
Got a chance to see the 5,000 square foot exhibit “Race: Are We So Different?” The exhibit offered space to learn about and talk about race in a respectful manner from both a public policy and human interest standpoint, among other reasons.
As defined in the exhibit, race is not who a person is. Race is a man-made construct to categorize people in order to forward a political, social or economic policy.
For example, U.S. public policy,
- up until 1865, forced Africans to come to America against their will via slavery.
- from 1882 – 1965, largely forbade Chinese to come to America.
- beginning in 1830, pushed Native Americans to relocate West of the Mississippi.
Based on such policies, the exhibit compared the nuances of how the policy enforcement differed in different states.
Fast forward to the 20th century, the exhibit show that the G.I. Bill steered whites to move to the suburbs where the real estate values increased, increasing their wealth. On the other hand, practices left out Hispanics, Chinese and African-Americans from taking advantage of the G.I. Bill.
The exhibit not only talked about how past public policy affected present social economic status, but compiled human interest stories about race. In a disarming way, the exhibit shared stories about race from African-Americans, from a white man telling about how he grew up to understand race, from biracial and multi-racial people who don’t fit in neat categories and from a kid who wanted to talk about race and difference with his parents, instead of not talking about it.
By understanding the past and present via the exhibit “Race: Are We So Different?”, we can make informed decisions to shape our future.
Emy Louie is the author of “Fast Trains: America’s High Speed Future,” published in 2012. Since 2009, Emy has served as the Director of Public Outreach for the US High Speed Rail Association. Emy has a degree in Architecture from the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. In 2007 and 2008, she hosted her own radio show. She has taught continuing education classes on sustainable design and urban development to architects and engineers.