Perspective Museums

Flea Market Guy and I have a daily ritual. He wakes up and goes outside for his first cig of the day and then he sits out there for about 30 minutes reading the news online. I lay in bed stretching and deciding if getting up is really worth it. I play a couple rounds of toon blast, go to the bathroom, brush my teeth and lay back down. He usually comes in around that time and we talk about what’s happening in the world.

In all reality, we could talk for hours since there is so much going on in the world. But this particular morning, we ended up talking about statues. He was telling me how the mayor of Chicago took down the Christopher Columbus statues in the middle of the night and took them to an undisclosed location. I said I was glad that she took them down because it really made me sad seeing all these statues destroyed.

Flea Market Guy was kind of shocked that I would be opposed to symbols of racism being destroyed. My Best Friend had the same reaction when she and I had a similar talk.

But I had to clarify to them that I am not opposed to the statues being removed. I’m just opposed to them being destroyed.

One of my favorite classes in college was Art History. I loved learning about the art and statues that were found underground in different countries. I loved what those statues told us about how things were hundreds of years ago or thousands of years ago. I loved being able to see how primitive their art was compared to today. And in some cases, how ahead of its time it was.

But I guess neither FMG or my bestie really realized how deep my love of art runs. Like I said, I do agree that every statue that is paying homage to our racist history should be removed from our streets and cities and parks, especially when people (who know the history) have to walk by it every day and wonder why we still hold these people in high esteem by allowing them to stay standing. It would be just as bad if, say, we had a president who had sexually assaulted numerous women and they had to watch him make a speech every day at 5 pm… oh, wait… well, you get the point.

So instead, I think we should do one of two things. We should 1.) create perspective museums where these statues are held. The original story, the one in the history books, the one written on the plaque that stands next to it, is there for everyone to read and then on the other side of it, the true story, the story that we, Americans, have whitewashed so we didn’t have to feel bad about our ancestors behaviors. The ugly truth. Or option 2.) let’s put these statues in black history museums and let black museum curators tell the story the way they see it. Then, if white people want to go pay homage to “their heritage” they can also see the damage that was caused to other nations and groups of people in this country in the name of “freedom” and “liberation.”

I think all people are innately looking out for themselves first. We take all the ugly parts of our history and we try to bury it. And if it ever resurfaces at a family function or with a group of friends, we try everything in our power to “explain” it away or place the blame anywhere but on ourselves. And I think as a country we have literally been doing that since the day we (Europeans) stepped foot on this continent.

I think destroying history will be detrimental for the future. We all just assume that the internet will always be there and we will always be able to go back and read about George Floyd and the day the US took a drastic change, but what if we can’t. What if the internet is wiped out and 100 years from now all we have are empty pedestals where statues stood and no history, no story, telling us how we got to where we are… for better or worse.

I’m not proud of America’s history. I don’t celebrate “Columbus Day” or “Thanksgiving.” I think Christopher Columbus was a rapist and a torturer, but I also think, barbaric actions were all they knew back then. “Kill people in the name of Christianity.” “If we can’t convert them, kill them.” But that’s not what the History books have taught us. It was all peace, love, turkey and (small pox laden) blankets.

But a perspective museum could teach us lots of things.

We’ve always been scared of things that are different from what we know and people who are different from what we know and religions that are different from what we know. People don’t like change. And, sadly, they don’t always like to learn about others differences because they think their way is the only right way.

But I am scared and sad for the changes that are happening now. I think it was George Santayana who said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” I guess I feel like those who decide to destroy the past are also condemned to repeat it, even though I understand it in principal, the long term effects might be uglier than we can imagine. If you know better, you can do better.

And if you can see History from both sides, I think people would be more equipped and more willing to have the hard conversations. And to make positive changes.

But, that’s just one girl’s opinion.

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