This post is from Geoffrey Vassallucci.
“African American history is not somehow separate from the American story. It is not the underside of the American story. It is central to the American story”, Barack Obama.
“A great nation does not hide its history, it faces its flaws and corrects them”, George W. Bush.
The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) has been inaugurated this week (Saturday, September 24th) in Washington D.C. by President Obama, in front of thousands people. This represents a very long work completion. Indeed, this old project is the product of more than one 100 years of efforts. The idea of honouring the African-American memory dates back to 1915: old black soldiers of the Civil War (1861-1865) ask, in vain, for an erection of a memorial. In 1929, the Congress gives first his agreement but, because of the deep crisis, finally refuses. After many attempts, the project finally takes shape in 2003, at the instigation of George W. Bush, who authorizes its launch. The first stone is laid in 2012.
The realization of this project is more than commendable. This museum represents a considerable progress in the mentalities evolution in the United States. For the Washington Post, the opening of this museum is « a dream coming true ». According to the creators of the NMAAHC, this journey into the dark story of racial relations in the American society has to give the African-American population place back into the national story, while avoiding some pitfalls: going into militancy or risking of “making black people seem like a victim and blaming white people”. The Bush’s commission designed it as a place of closure, allowing to contribute to the “races reconciliation”.
As I said before, the realization of this project is more than commendable. We feed on the past in order to not make the same mistakes. On this point, this museum has to play a key role in the mentalities evolution. Unfortunately, we cannot deny that the racist acts in the United States never stop increasing. Being a non-American citizen (and possessing an external eye to the situation, and so maybe being misinformed of the current reality), I am asking this question: is all of this today enough in order to change mentalities?
Should the US government not just face the truth? Perhaps the government should implement a much deeper process, much sincere. Is the simple confrontation with the racist past of their country enough to make American citizens realize that manners must evolve today? Is it enough to make them realize that border between Black and White folks do not only belong to the past but is still actual. I think that a much deeper action must be set up by the US government. Learning from the mistakes of his country throughout its history should not only be a choice – visit a museum or not – but should be part of the whole learning system. My opinion is that it should be taught at school, through courses that would underline the past racial issues of the country – such as segregation or slavery – but also explain to children from an early age what the notions of racism, ethnicity or diversity really mean.
Although the opening of this museum fits into a positive dynamic, it seems to me to be worthwhile to remind people that these notions of racism and ethnicity – in the United States as elsewhere – were relevant in the past but are still – and more than ever – a matter of common concern.
Obama At African American Museum Opening- Full Speech :