RACE: Are We So Different?
Faculty, staff and students of Mayo Clinic and visitors to Rochester have had a special opportunity to view an extraordinary exhibit entitled RACE: Are We so Different? at the Rochester Public Library. The American Anthropological Association teamed with the Minnesota Science Museum in 2006 to create the original exhibit. Mayo Clinic joined with the Rochester Public Library so that the exhibit could be brought to the Rochester community this summer. Dawn Littleton (DL), Head of Public Services at Mayo Clinic Libraries, who assisted with the exhibit and two library employees who attended the exhibit offered these comments.
DL: “The exhibit encourages us to look at the construct of race in the United States, and how our society has used ideas about race to promote or discriminate against individuals or groups based on their physical features such as eyes and nose shape, skin color, and hair texture”
DL: “Since joining Mayo, I have been engaged for many years with the Education Diversity Task Force to bring ideas and programs in support of Mayo’s initiative to increase the diversity of Mayo’s staff and leadership.” “Additionally, as a student at the University of Minnesota’s Organization Leadership and Policy Development Department, I study how public and academic libraries and librarians work to successfully influence the often poorer health of populations defined by a race label.”
The exhibit describes historically how we humans created ethnic and racial categories and how these classifications have changed over time. Also there is no single gene or set of genes, or even a set of physical attributes that can support the idea of race scientifically.
DL: “Our society works (often invisibly) in ways that race labels strongly impact people we call Native American, African-American, Asian, Pacific Islander, and Hispanic in very different, and negative ways. Meanwhile, White people (and I am one) often don’t perceive or feel the effects of the race label assigned to us; therefore, we are often unaware of how being White significantly impacts our lives and others.”
DL: “This exhibit helps everyone in Rochester’s diverse community to know that we are labeled by race, the history of the concept of race, and how it helps or hurts us in our work, school, and neighborhood communities.”
Beth Miller and Tona Keene, library associates, recently attended the RACE Exhibit. They described their perspective of this learning experience as “a wonderful opportunity for the associates group to participate together at the RACE Exhibit. Each learning station provided a unique and interactive opportunity to learn more than just the printed word. It is good for all of us to be able to evaluate how we think, see and feel about different cultures. We look forward to further discussion about this educational event.”
The RACE Exhibit currently runs Monday through Thursday 9:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., Friday 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. until September 4, 2010 at the Rochester Public Library.
Submitted by Debbie Fuehrer
Rochester Methodist Hospital