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The National Museum of African American History and Culture launched a portal to facilitate conversations about race.

Daria Simone Harper
Jun 2, 2020 4:24PM, via The Art Newspaper

The National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. Photo by and courtesy Alan Karchmer/NMAAHC.

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) launched an online portal Sunday that aims to facilitate dialogue about race in the United States. This platform comes as protests over racial violence and police brutality spread rapidly across the country. The portal, Talking About Race, features videos, exercises, scholarly texts, and more than 100 other resources that examine how racism and racial identity form our society.

The portal was originally set to launch in the fall, but according to The Art Newspaper, NMAAHC cited various recent racist events—like the police actions that led to the deaths of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky, in addition to the following nationwide protests—as reasons for releasing the portal early. The institution also referenced a recent altercation in Central Park, during which a white woman called 911 on a Black man when he asked that she put her dog on a leash in accordance with park rules.

Spencer Crew, interim director of the NMAAHC, said in a recent statement:

Since opening the museum, the number one question we are asked is how to talk about race, especially with children. 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.

On Sunday, Secretary Lonnie G. Bunch—who, before becoming the the first Black leader of the Smithsonian Institution, was the NMAAHC’s founding director—shared a rare public statement regarding the current events and the state of race in the U.S. In the statement, Bunch praised protesters for their work and condemned police brutality. Bunch appealed to the need for action: “History is a guide to a better future and demonstrates that we can become a better society—but only if we collectively demand it from each other and from the institutions responsible for administering justice.”

Daria Simone Harper