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NMAAHC - space, learning, clarity.

me.mae.i's picture

First off, I'm sorry for this post taking so long. I hope my lateness doesn't discredit my appreciation for the trip and presence in the museum.

With that said, I'm so lucky. I literally walked through every part of the museum struck in awe. There is not a single emotion that explains the connections I had. Being surrounded by so many black and brown faces was warm. And it was in a space that was built for us. Not where we've been pushed to or forced to be in, but literally a space for us. I remember seeing a picture of Nat Turner (with his back to the camera showing the aftermath of the whipping) and a little boy went up to it. Then he looked at his mother and she began to explain to him. Yo, that's important. Having the space and museums to send your children to learn! I never had that. My first time seeing this image was either the 1st or 2nd grade. It was in my school's library and I dropped it. I was terrified. I had nightmares about it. Literal nightmares. I never told my mom or my dad. I didn't know. My teachers weren't really there. It felt like we were in the library just to pass the time. This brings me to a point where I remember moving with my dad, this was the 7th grade. And I finally had the courage to tell him I was afraid of the KKK. When I moved with my dad, my room was in the basement. So I would always get scared of being by myself, but the feeling of having my own room was nice. But I remember this one time I had nightmare about the KKK coming into our house, taking us, and killing us. I went upstairs to iron my uniform for school the next day and told my dad that I was scared. And he looked at me like what the hell are you talking about. Go to bed. Haha. It's kind of funny looking back on it now. But I wonder how different I would be, had me and my family had the tools to talk about this history. Not just look at it. But talk about it. 

Being in a space that forces you to bring the truth to light, through both facts and art, is essential. African-American History, which is also American History, needs to be taught but in the right spaces. My white second grade teacher who decided to come to the hood (Trenton, NJ) to be a better person wasn't able to help me. She couldn't help me see. The institution couldn't either. My family had been silenced and I was too. But the actual art and space can make so much of a difference.