Thursday, March 29, 2012

"Hateful Things" At The Mark Twain House

By Mary Majerus-Collins
Senior Reporter
Alexandria Garry
Junior Reporter
HARTFORD, Conn., U.S.A. – The “Hateful Things” of racism are on full display at the Mark Twain House and Museum.
A disturbing and thought-provoking focal piece of the three-part Rage, Race & Redemption, “Hateful Things” features artifacts from the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia at Ferris State University.
The artifacts contained discriminatory signs, imagery and playthings such as trading cards against African Americans. One such item was a Monopoly parody called Ghettopoly filled with racist stereotypes.
There are children’s games and toys such as trading cards and books, even the popular books Dumbo, Mickey Mouse, and Woody Woodpecker with racist images. 
Any African American characters in these books were portrayed as uneducated and uncultured. Many companies used propaganda against African Americans, making fun of stereotypical southern accents and dialect.
The viewers of the exhibit, which opened Thursday, expressed strong reactions upon seeing the artifacts which stretched chronologically up to 2008.
Mary Majerus-Collins /

Keyla Ortiz, 14, visited the new exhibit
the Mark Twain House and Museum

in Hartford Thursday evening.

Fourteen-year-old Keyla Ortiz of Hartford said she was “shocked” by the horrors shown in the exhibit.
The treatment of African Americans was “very cruel and not nice,” said Ortiz. “They have feelings, too.”
Patti Philippon, chief curator of the Mark Twain House and Museum, said the museum wanted to host the exhibit for several years in hopes of opening a dialogue.
She said the idea is to explore what the images mean by using “this imagery that’s really difficult to look at and difficult to see, difficult for people to explain, even to themselves,” as a starting point for discussion and education to hopefully lead the next generation to see beyond race.
Racism is still relevant, said Philippon.
“Every day there are still examples in the newspapers of racist issues & race riots, these kinds of things that still happen, and I think that as far as we have come there is still more that we can do,” she said.
Mary Majerus-Collins /

Patti Philippon, chief curator
The Mark Twain House, Philippon said, “can be a place where people can really talks about it and have a positive response to negative imagery.”
Though much of the “Hateful Things” exhibit was troubling – and at some points disturbing – people attending saw the importance of the history.
“It’s a great exhibit because it shows the history of cultural racism in this country,” said museum visitor Julius Fabrini. “It is important for today’s generation to see how racism was reflected and how it had an impact on everyday life.”
Rage, Race & Redemption also includes “A Sound Heart & a Deformed Conscience,” which examines Twain’s personal evolution on race matters and “Hopeful Things,” a collection of memorabilia depicting a positive view of African Americans through music, children’s books and portraits of cultural heroes.
Several films, lectures, and performances are also part of the museum’s spotlight on race. The exhibit closes September 3 related programming runs through mid-September.

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