The Smithsonian Institution purveys Critical Race Theory

July 16, 2020 • 10:00 am

We cannot be free of wokeness in college, nor while reading the liberal media. Now we encounter it in America’s national museums as well.

I learned of the site at hand from a tweet, and then checked it out for myself to ensure it was kosher. The page in question appears at the website of the National Museum of African American History & Culture, a museum in Washington, D.C. that’s part of the Smithsonian Institution. (I’ve long meant to visit it, but haven’t been back “home” in a long time.)

I applauded the museum when it was conceived and then opened, but I had no idea it would be used as a vehicle to purvey Critical Race Theory, along with its narrative of structural racism, white privilege, microaggressions, white fragility, intersectionality, and so on, to the public. There are even video lectures by Robin DiAngelo and bell hooks. It all has the air of the indoctrination sessions given to many American college students, and feels a bit hectoring, as if its presumptions are beyond question.

To see all this, go to the page “Talking about Race: Whiteness“, and read on.

One of the unquestioned presumptions is the delineation below of so called “white culture” in two panels, a delineation that feels forced and even racist. Is this really “white culture”? Do most whites adhere to these values, while people of color do not? Where do they get the data behind it?

What about “Asian culture”, which would seem to coincide with “white culture” in many ways, including the emphasis on hard work? Asians, of course, are considered as “minoritized” people of color.  Hispanics, too, are surely seen by many as hard working and religious. Don’t African-Americans adhere to the precept of “hard work as a key to success”?

Note, too, that “emphasis on scientific method” is given as part of white culture. Is that really the case, as opposed to other cultures? In view of the anti-vaxers and predominance of creationists in the U.S., I’d be loath to say that white culture relies any more on “objective, rational, linear thinking” or “cause and effect relationships” than does African-American culture.

Finally, note that “religion”, given as part of white culture, is also an important part of African-American culture by any standard. Yes, there are Black Muslims, but by and large the religion of American blacks is Christianity.


Although of course I may be biased because I’m white—if Jews are considered “white”—I see this as possible denigration of the values of white culture, although perhaps this graph is presented only as a contrast with African-American culture. But if that is the case, why didn’t they also have a diagram of “Aspects and Assumptions of Blackness: Black Culture in the United States”? For if they showed the opposite traits of those given above for Black Culture, it would look exceedingly racist.

At any rate, you can read the page for yourself and make of it what you will. Remember, if you’re an American, your tax dollars are funding this nonsense, a form of nonsense that seems not only distorted, misleading, but positively divisive. Is this kind of stuff going to heal racial divides? I doubt it.

Does such a presentation have any value at all? I doubt that, too.

118 thoughts on “The Smithsonian Institution purveys Critical Race Theory

  1. Mainly true, in large part. Our culture is built on much of that. Although “no tolerance” of multiple gods goes it a bit far.

    However, it’s unclear how anyone will make their way in the world without working hard. It’s very clear from all studies that the most important life skill (assuming your life goal isn’t being a slacker) is deferring gratification.

    And, as you note, if the African American culture is the opposite of these, that is pretty bad! And, based on my first-generation immigrant African American colleagues, this is not true. (It may be somewhat true of the “urban” culture in the USA. Re: “Oreo”, doing well in school is considered, “white”, etc.)

    1. Technically a great deal of physical phenomena can be explained and predicted with linear relationships. But I get your point. Resolving racism in America feels like taking the Fourier transform while only being allowed to use one sine wave to construct a complex solution.

  2. Some points in the graphic are just odd. Children all have their own bedrooms? Food must be bland? Was this made in 1955? And, as you say, what’s wrong with science? Fortunately, we now have more Black scientists in the U.S.

    I have been to the museum —— spent an entire day there and absolutely loved it. One thing I noticed was that almost all of the museum visitors were Black, which surprised me. It’s hard to get tickets (admission is free, but to keep crowd levels down, they give out tickets online a few months before the date of your visit). If you can’t get a ticket, go early in the morning (before it opens) so you can get a place in line. Within a couple of hours, people who have extra tickets will give their extras to the folks in the line. In theory, the people in line are waiting for someone from the museum to offer tickets beginning at 1 pm, but other visitors will offer tickets before then. I was there in August 2017, so some things may have changed, and it must be closed now.

    1. I saw 1955 in there too, especially the bit about the wife being the homemaker and is subordinate to the husband. The trick about X-‘splaining a group or a person is to describe them in terms that they would recognize, however grudgingly.

  3. Let’s see:

    Wife is homemaker and subordinate to the husband
    Steak and potatoes; “bland is best”
    Woman’s beauty based on blonde, thin – “Barbie”

    That’s enough.

    A useless stereotype of whites, and a pathetic, trivial treatment of the concept of culture.

    1. Well said.
      Frankly, I cannot name one man I know who actually prefers the blonde, skinny “Barbie” look. My husband just about puked when he saw this.

  4. It’s really hard to type when you are shaking your head. This is just so incredibly racist. And simplistic. How is 2.3 children an “ideal” of the white family? God knows, we’ve failed in our house to have that extra third of a child. Shame! Did the author of this piece (it’s attributed to a Judith H. Katz) just take survey data, and turn responses into ideals?

  5. Scientific rationality and emphasis on “quantitative” relations (i.e., stuff you can measure, stuff that actually has an
    impact on the universe independent of your preferences) is, according to this profound document, a property of ‘White’ culture. What does that make George Washington Carver, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Shin’ichiro Tomonaga (who shared the Nobel Prize for quantum field theory with Julian Schwinger and
    Richard Feynman) and Abdus Salam (who shared the Nobel Prize with Sheldon Glashow and Steven Weinberg for the Standard
    Model of electroweak unification)? Presumably, going by the Smithsonian’s screed, they were ‘race traitors’, or something like that?

    And on the flip side, the uber-white supremacists, the Nazis, had some of the most insane beliefs about physics and astronomy of any group of whackos in the past several centuries. Many of the defectives in Hitler’s inner circle believed that the moon was covered in ice and there was a hole in the earth running from the North to the South Pole (anyone curious about their pathological
    ideas might want to take a look at Martin Gardner’s grand old classic, Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science). Despite quantum theory’s triumphant account of complex quantitative relationships arising in the interaction of matter and radiation and the behavior of atomic nuclei and subatomic particles, Nazi sympathizers in the German physics community rejected it as
    ‘Jewish physics’, leaving them unable to account for pretty much *any* of the great discoveries in early twentieth century

    That the Smithsonian is pushing this purely ideological junk culture theory strikes me as an excellent reason to press for a change in management there…

    1. “Presumably, going by the Smithsonian’s screed, they were ‘race traitors’, or something like that?” I think the preferred phrase is “performing internalized whiteness” but I could be wrong.

      1. Sure—but unless these people are cagey enough to invoke paraconsistent logic in their reasoning, that ‘internalized whiteness’ claim is going to come to grief in the face of, e.g., the huge accomplishments of the mathematicians and logicians in ancient India, who around 300-400 AD gave us the concept of the *number zero*, as well as the corollary rules for manipulating negative numbers, and fundamental work on algebra (including an early version of the solution formula for quadratic equations beloved of middle-school students around the world. The early Indoeuropean invaders of the subcontinent had by then long ago blended into the indigenous population—so these tremendous achievements of logical rationality and quantitative reasoning were taking place in a demographic environment where, so far as we can tell, didn’t *have* any whiteness to internalize!
        Funny old world, eh?

    2. That Nazis’ denigration of “Jewish physics” also may well have been what kept them from being first to develop The Bomb.

    3. You know what? These so called ‘scientists’ actually believe there is a giant, thousands of km’s diameter, ball of extremely hot mostly molten iron between us and Australia/NZ? Now I’m asking you, how could they not be nuts?

  6. Well, if you thought of yourself as a non racist person before you had all this guidance and information on whiteness, you would probably be racist after. Let’s call it post education racism. No tolerance for deviation from a single g*d concept. That one is not a problem for atheists.

    1. Women are often the main breadwinners in African countries. They still get treated like shit, though. Interestingly, not being the breadwinners in Western countries may have helped women there to get better treatment. After all, men who work on farms do not have as much time to engage in tribal warfare and other destructive forms of male competition.

  7. Critical race theory is of course itself racist and bigoted. The correct and most enlightened theory was expressed long ago by John Stuart Mill. It was expressed equally by Martin Luther King who said we should be judged by our character and not by our skin color.
    We real progressives must fight constantly against identity politics and other authoritarian bigoted approaches recently espoused by the left. We have fought long and hard against the bigotry of the right but we must protect progressivism against the equally pernicious ideas embodied in identity politics and wokeness.

  8. So if “white culture” is
    * self-reliant
    * hard working
    * scientific

    does not follow that “black culture” is
    * dependent
    * lazy
    * superstitious

    Is this not EXACTLY what a white supremacist would argue?

    For a hundred years people have fought against racial stereotyping and now the intellectual left endorses it?

    Any chance Biden would condemn it?

    1. Eric, maybe you cherry-picked a bit in your three examples, but
      – they are incontrovertible.
      – they are not much deviating from the general tone.
      – they illustrate beautifully how racist those tenets are.
      So yes, they are obviously racist and indeed exactly how a white supremacist would argue.

  9. Dr. John McWhorter, Columbia Univesity, reviews “White Fragility” by R. Diangelo for The Atlantic.

    A great piece of writing… sharp:

    “I have learned that one of America’s favorite advice books of the moment is actually a racist tract. Despite the sincere intentions of its author, the book diminishes Black people in the name of dignifying us.”

    1. Wow yes that’s a great dissection of “White Fragility”. This last bit really gets to the point.

      “And herein is the real problem with White Fragility. DiAngelo does not see fit to address why all of this agonizing soul-searching is necessary to forging change in society…What end does all this self-mortification serve? Impatient with such questions, DiAngelo insists that “wanting to jump over the hard, personal work and get to ‘solutions’” is a “foundation of white fragility.” In other words, for DiAngelo, the whole point is the suffering.”

      Remarkably similar to Mother Teresa, for whom the suffering of the poor was their salvation.

  10. White Seattle city employees were directed to a training session on “Interrupting Internalized Racial Superiority and Whiteness,” a program designed to help white workers examine their “complicity in the system of white supremacy”. The trainers
    explained that that “individualism,” “perfectionism,” “intellectualization,” and “objectivity” are vestiges of internalized racial oppression and must be abandoned in favor of social-justice principles. See: .

    This movement’s intent is quite obvious: to replace the idea of objective qualifications with, instead, adherence to the designated orthodoxy of social justice principles.
    Applicants for municipal engineering jobs, freed of the need for an engineering degree, will be able to rely on concentration in areas like Robin DiAngelo’s subject of “Whiteness Studies”. In this brave new world, airline pilots will have to submit Diversity Statements, but will no longer have to know anything about flying an airplane.

    1. Yeah, and they were told that to help interrupt their white privilege they’d have to give up their comfort, physical safety, job security, and social status. Sounds great.

      In other news, the city council of crime-ridden Seattle has a veto-proof majority that pledged to halve the police budget. Perhaps they’re not satisfied with Seattle having nearly the highest property crime levels in the nation. I guess they’re shooting for #1.

      Since I live just outside Seattle, I’m sure it’s going to spill into my neighborhood too.

  11. I don’t see how “emphasis on the scientific method” could be considered a bad thing. As opposed to what? Emphasis on voodoo?
    These kinds of facile characterizations of groups (or cultures) are infuriating to me. When you think that a group or collective entity is (has to be) bad, then everything somehow associated to it is (has to be bad), even those things that can arguably said to be objectively good for everyone.

    1. You’re making the same mistake as I did initially. This is not a list of bad characteristics of white people. It’s not even a list of common characteristics of white people. It’s a list of white “ideals” as imagined by a black person.

      Having said that, and watching the USA’s COVID19 response and the attitude to creationism, I’m not sure that it’s even true that it’s an “ideal”.

  12. Part of the problem is that back in the 80s and early 90s, when people like Judith Katz (who made this list) and Peggy McIntosh were creating these checklists, they were easily dismissed as well-intentioned but obviously absurd and overly provocative reactions to the then severe problem of poor black kids struggling in inner-city schools. It was a kind of amusing thought experiment to suggest that if all the benchmarks of success in school, and the advantages your parents give you, were turned on their head so that they became handicaps and disadvantages, and things like not being able to keep a schedule or using subjective experience were treated as equally valid compared to punctuality and abstract reasoning, that that would then solve the issue.

    We shouldn’t have just laughed this stuff off back then.

    1. Also, in the legal field, “intent counts” is a mark of “whiteness”? Any decent legal system in the world, no matter race, ethnicity, religion, or whatever, takes intent into account when assessing criminal responsibility, pure consequentialism is farcical. It it “blackness” to treat someone who walks up and shoots a child in cold blood the same as someone who accidentally runs over an LSD-tripping homeless guy who runs out naked onto a 6-lane, 75 mph limit highway during rush hour, “because someone is dead either way”?

        1. I’ve come to find that a lot of “woke” discourse boils down to snappy and sassy slogans that are great for Twitter clapbacks; this one sounds no different:


          How many likes and retweets do I get?

  13. Just last week, Gary Garrels, the senior curator at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art was doing a presentation highlighting artwork of people who weren’t white males. At the end, he said “Don’t worry, we will definitely still continue to collect white artists.”

    This caused an uproar from “anti-racist” activists who wanted no more works by white male artists in the museum. Gary replied “To say that we will not collect another white artist I absolutely do not agree with”, saying that to do so would be reverse discrimination. As a result, there was a petition for him to be fired. And now he’s out of a job…

    These “anti-racists” sure seem racist to me.

  14. Of course the nonsense in CRT is easy to see, but the complication is that components of it are valid: there is systemic racism (Richard Carrier is the only person I’ve seen to actually offer a coherent definition of it,; people have unconscious biases; etc. But such valid concerns are wrapped up in an absurd epistemology and unfalsifiable claims.

    So classic liberals find themselves in bed with conservatives who take the critique of the authoritarian left too far and veer into very illiberal ideas. I like Quilette a lot, but look in the comments and you see a fair bit of conservatives spouting illiberal ideas.

    So, it can be tricky.

    1. Quillette still has many good articles, but the comment area seems now to be dominated by libertarians and other right wingers, many with an axe to grind about “The Left.” I like Areo and New Discourses, which cover similar territory with fewer belligerent comments.

    2. I at least read it, but found the following passage a bit questionable-
      “this was almost certainly racism in action. Because we rarely see this happen when the person in the car is white. ”

      By “we rarely see”, it seems less like he looked at the data, and more like he based the statement on the impression conveyed by network news coverage.
      Armed and unarmed White people are consistently shot by police in higher numbers than any other race.
      I understand that most people look at the rates compared to population percentages, but anything that one “rarely sees” should be actually occurring less frequently.

      I guess we could look at shootings that happened under exactly the same circumstances as the shooting in question, but then we would probably find it unique.

  15. The NMAAAHC attributes the data to a 1990 publication cited itself by Cascadia College in the “Resources” section of their Discover > About Cascadia > Diversity web page. This means the research was done and published at a time halfway back to the 1950’s.

    In whatever light the bullet points are presented, they arguably do represent the ideals of the post-WWII US majority generation. Without a doubt, some now belong in the dustbin of history, but surely a great fraction are universal and reasonable to strive for. It seems to me that one can disagree with the exhortation “hard work is the key to success” only when endorsing hyper-capitalist nepotism. Perhaps we are to argue about unspoken underlying assumptions, but “hard work – if you are able – …” does not a catchy slogan make.

    To dismiss these bullet points and ascribe them solely to “Whiteness” is just as corrosive, divisive, and racist as current right-wing propaganda.

  16. As many commenters have noted, this museum display is racist. Perhaps that signals our best angle of attack against them. Let’s fight anti-racism with anti-racism! (Now I have a headache. I think I will have a short lie down.)

    1. “Let’s fight anti-racism with anti-racism!”

      Fighting racism with racism seems to be in vogue.

      So depressing.

        1. If only they didn’t shun science, they would know that matter and anti-matter cancel each other out and draw a conclusion about racism and anti-racism…

  17. It sounds like Asian culture as well. The only significant differences are the religion to some degree and the food which I have culturally appropriated.

      1. But East Asians still value hard works of an individual for the collective good, i.e. for the sake of each other.

    1. “It sounds like Asian culture as well.”

      I’m reminded of the (alleged) “Model Minority” concept. I need to learn more about it. My (no doubt incomplete, subjective) perception of it is that the concept alleges it a (somehow unfair, disrespectful?) stereotype to view many if not most of (East?) Asians as self-disciplined, very respectful of intellectual curiosity, academic achievement, and hard work (study). That, allegedly, there are more than a few Asians who are somehow unfairly burdened with these expectations?

      Isn’t the fact that Harvard and their collegiate ilk raise the minimum score, to qualify for consideration for admittance, for Asians because it is these institutions’ general view that Asians do have these positive attributes; that the raised score requirement is to compensate for these positive attributes; and that this is evidence that, whatever they say, they do not in reality subscribe to the “Model Minority” concept?

  18. This has been correctly pointed out as “racism of low expectations” in a number of Twitter threads. Several of these characteristics would seem to be objectively good, and are not the sole purview of white cultures, so to imply otherwise seems to impugn non-whites.

    Still, a number of the things aren’t wrong. Time, for example, is treated differently in US culture than in many others. “Time is money” is not an expression you see on souvenir t-shirts from Mexico, to use a simple example.

    And history is definitely Euro-centric.

    1. The problem is that the achievements of Western Civilization has been the greatest in human history, and sub-Saharan Africa being geographically isolated has contributed very little comparatively.

      These “superior” achievements cannot be accepted by the “anti-racist” left and thus the irrational war on western culture and standards.

      I think there are parallels to antisemitism.

      1. “achievements of Western Civilization”

        Of course the West also caused a lot of misery, colonialism, destruction of ancient cultures, the environment, slavery, many wars etc.

        However, if the Zulu’s were a superior civilization (technologically) they would have done the same, colonized Europe and Asia!

      2. Many of the achievements of Western civilization are indispensable for a high-achieving culture. One has to master them, like the Japanese did, or languish in misery. I do not deny that some cultures have amazing skills in animal tracking and other activities. But these are not relevant today.

      3. “The problem is that the achievements of Western Civilization has been the greatest in human history, and sub-Saharan Africa being geographically isolated has contributed very little comparatively.”

        I disagree with this statement entirely. A great deal of “the achievements of Western Civilization” arose out of ancient cultures from Africa, the Middle East, Egypt, China, Native American cultures, etc. Philosophies, mathematics, science, drama, arts, literature, etc.

        1. “arose out of ancient cultures from Africa”

          I said [sub-Saharan Africa].

          Sub-Saharan Africa contributed very little to the modern world.

          Classical north african civilizations like Egypt & Carthage were more connected to the Levant and southern Europe than black Africa.

          But I understand you knee-jerk reaction to my statement, the contributions of Sumeria, Babylonia and Egypt were enormous, and the renaissance where built upon Greek, Roman, Indian and Arabic foundations.
          However the creativity and profound inventions by western culture has been unprecedented. (It was perhaps an accident of history that Europe was the epicenter, modern science could also have started in China for example)

  19. Thank you for pulling this tweet out of your earlier post and creating a post just to highlight this Jerry.
    I was this last night and it’s the most depressing thing I have seen yet. (And I thought PZ Myers being okay with pulling down statues of Darwin was soul-crushing.)
    At age 55 I’m bestirring myself to write a book on how to move past this woke mania, and to organize a science equity program for Minneapolis kids. This needs pushback. I am truly alarmed by this.

    1. “And I thought PZ Myers being okay with pulling down statues of Darwin was soul-crushing”

      Wow, do you have a link?

        1. Thanks, but I could only stomach purple face for 5 min.

          He pretends to be objective and reasonable, arguing that we should accept the good and bad of historical figures, while he knows that this balanced approach is not what cancel culture is about.

          It is like arguing that the cultural revolution in china was a rational modernization of the state institutions.

  20. I do not understand how this can even be called “critical theory.” It’s neither critical nor theory. It’s a stew of silly half baked and very confused generalizations. It’s stuff like this that gives critical theory a bad name. I have a sense though that there’s a lot of people who actually know better who would promote this. And yet, this is some of the most casually essentialist crap I have ever seen-and essentialism is supposed to be a vary bad thing in critical theory.

    1. “I do not understand how this can even be called “critical theory.” It’s neither critical nor theory.”

      Your whiteness is violence!

      The concept of “theory” was created by the white patriarchy to enslave bame people.
      How dare you convey your intrinsic racist thoughts?

      You should read White Fragility and repent your collective ancestral guilt.

  21. I’ll say it since I’m black. We (blacks) simply don’t want to address the cultural problems we have (violence as a solution, fathers not raising kids, sports over education) and how it impacts our economic prospects far more than any racism does.

    1. “don’t want to address the cultural problems”
      I get the impression that it is actually white liberals that stop people from having this discussion.

      Diane, I read that black immigrants (mainly from the Caribbean and west africa) do very well academically and financially. (better than the US average)

      If that is true, do you know if the family structures of black immigrants are also more healthy?

      1. From what I’ve read, recent African immigrants, on average, value work and education to a degree similar to Northeast Asians, and achieve similarly outstanding results. That is to say that they tend to arrive poor (although rather well-off by African standards – I’m sure we’re getting above-average Africans in many respects), work hard, teach their kids to work hard and go to college, and be solidly middle class within a generation or so.

      2. “Immigrants” is a skewed sample. To leave your country of birth behind and try to make your way in an unfamiliar foreign land takes a certain amount of bravery and determination. It would be no surprise if those characteristics continued to inform your attitude ince you’ve got there.

        1. Which might mean that “structural racism”, “white supremacy” etc. is not the fundamental cause of problems in African American society.

          It is the negative defeatist victim-hood culture made worse by liberal whiteness theology.

  22. One could legitimately come up with some bullet points about white American culture, but none of them would at all describe all of us. I only fit the Hawaiian shirt example below.
    1. Likes country music. Does not like rap.
    2. Polo shirts and khaki pants. Has a couple Hawaiian shirts too.
    3. Worries about keeping the lawn mowed and green.
    4. Voted for Trump.

    Any others?

    1. Only white deplorable culture?

      What about white liberal culture?
      * theater
      * opera
      * hiking
      * running
      * yoga
      * imported wine
      * skiing in the alps
      * black lives matter protest

  23. So now “objectivity”, “rationality” and the “scientific method” according to the staff at the Smithsonian are white supremacist concepts.

    So… what are the alternatives? Subjectivity? Irrationality? Other “ways of knowing”?

  24. We’re also beginning to see Critical Theory influencing our government, from DeAngelo-style anti-racism seminars being employed in federal institutions to California repealing its Civil Rights Act in the name of fighting discrimination to half of Oklahoma no longer being under U. S. jurisdiction because the treaties surrounding the taking of Native American were never properly notarized (as if it actually mattered). This is getting ridiculous. I thought the United States was founded on ideas of capital “L” Liberalism…. Free speech is nearly dead on college campuses, and because of that, when given the opportunity to be on-campus for the coming fall semester at the elite liberal arts college I attend, I chose to stay home. At least at home, the only dirty looks I get are from my mother when I don’t clean my room.

      1. That’s johnny on the spot for them. I get the impression they have someone who keeps track of your posts 24/7? Yipes.

        1. I doubt that they got the story from me; others knew about it too (I got it from a tweet), and presumably publicized it. If you’re implying it wasn’t there in the first place, well, as I said, I doubted that too but checked. The figure comes straight from that website.

      1. To be fair, if one were a Tony Perkins-style creationist (people who comprise a big chunk of Donald Trump’s support base), they would tic off every one of those features. And that includes the science ones, though in doing so they’d have in mind things like Ken Ham’s Creation Museum as exemplifying true scientific findings. Likewise, they might be thinking Heartland Institute for climate claims.

        Clearly, where the chart fell short was in the lack of supporting context for how those tropes play out in various demographics, and how each can (and has) taken on additional ideological baggage. But then no one said grappling with social realities could be reduced to a ppt without tripping up now and then.

        I’d certainly love to see how minds woke and not would address each, compared to any of the signatories of the Harper letter or critics of same. That could be most illuminating, if you could burrow past the heat and get to the light of it.

  25. They have added a statement explaining why they removed the chart:

    “At the National Museum of African American History and Culture, we believe that any productive conversation on race must start with honesty, respect for others, and an openness to ideas and information that provide new perspectives.

    In that context, we recently unveiled “Talking About Race,” an online portal providing research, studies, and other academic materials from the fields of history, education, psychology, and human development. Our goal in doing so was to contribute to a discussion on this vitally important subject that millions of Americans are grappling with.

    Since yesterday, certain content in the “Talking About Race” portal has been the subject of questions that we have taken seriously. We have listened to public sentiment and have removed a chart that does not contribute to the productive discussion we had intended.

    The site’s intent and purpose are to foster and cultivate conversations that are respectful and constructive and provide increased understanding. As an educational institution, we value meaningful dialogue and believe that we are stronger when we can pause, listen, and reflect—even when it challenges us to reconsider our approach. We hope that this portal will be an ever-evolving place that will continue to grow, develop, and ensure that we listen to one another in a spirit of civility and common cause.”

    1. I am coming late to this thread again….but that explanation is hilarious.

      I am keeping it as it may come in handy someday.

  26. Besides it’s being wildly inaccurate, I am wondering if they plan to present charts for other races?

    Because that would be interesting. It is almost completely safe to say pretty much anything about White people or Jews, but a list of stereotypical behaviors of Black or Asian people, or Native Americans would be a riskier undertaking.

    Even with just the one list, there are troubling implications. Listed items are assumed to be uniquely White traits, or at least not shared by all racial groups.

  27. Um, these are merely listed as things that are ‘considered standard practice’ in the white-dominated US. It never says they’re bad. It never says they’re universal or even followed by the majority. It never says other cultures don’t share some of the same things.

    Think of them as aspects of society which nobody would notice in a stereotypic American sitcom. None of them could ever be the ‘hook’, which means in some sense Americans have internalized them as how things are expected to be. I think it’s extremely accurate in that regard.

    1. Nah. It was just a caricature. If the people who wrote it and put it up on the NMAAHC web site really thought it was just “standard practice”, they would not have taken it down in response to mild criticism of its obvious failings.

      1. It was probably easier to take it down than to try to argue with dissenters. I mean look at this comment section full of people who probably judge themselves to be rational, yet it’s full of objections to untrue assumptions like the traits are supposed to be bad, or exclusive to white people, or true of most white people, when that’s not the point at all.

        Your description of it as a caricature is apt in the sense that if you asked someone to invent the most extremely normal American, the result would encompass most of those traits. The point is to reflect that these “normal” traits are not necessarily the way things should be or even the way most Americans are, so shouldn’t be considered the default.

    2. “Um, these are merely listed as things that are ‘considered standard practice’ in the white-dominated US. It never says they’re bad.”

      I’d like to hear the originators of this list

      (“Judith H. Katz copyright 1990. The Kaleel Jamison Consulting Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved,” per the link another poster earlier posted)

      say for the record to what if any degree they find these traits desirable or undesirable (they surely do have their opinions), and to what extent they employed one of the traits listed, (“Emphasis on) the Scientific Method,” in arriving at these results.

      I also look forward to their similarly generating lists for other cultural demographics.

  28. The culture depicted looks like American culture of the 19th and early 20th century. So outdated. Or else it is only applicable to Southern conservative Christian culture.

    Rugged individualism and hard work: So there aren’t any white socialists? What about Christian socialists and the Social Gospel? What about Catholics? They are pretty nuanced on the value of hard work. The Scandinavians are Europeans and yet they have a sizable welfare state. East Asians value hard works for the collective goods.

    Family structure: Isn’t this also the case for nonwhite cultures as well? Most of the world’s cultures are patriarchal.

    Scientific method: Christians have always included personal experiences as an essential part of their faith.

    Religion: Most African-Americans are Christian and most Hispanics are Catholic. Christianity itself originated in the Middle East, was founded by a Middle Eastern guy and is one of the monotheistic Abrahamic faiths like Islam is.

    Holidays: Other nations also base many of their holidays on significant events and individuals in their history. If Japan became more diverse to combat the aging of its population, then wouldn’t its patriotic holidays become problematic also?

  29. Aesthetics: This changes over time, same with fashion. Why must a woman be blonde? And why doesn’t male attractiveness include six-pack abs?

    Justice: ‘Intent counts.’ For felonies, yes. if it doesn’t, then there would be no insanity defense, and those with less control would be as punishable as those with more control. Also, mens rea cover more than just intent and also extends to gross negligence. Sometimes strict liability is applied. Tort cases don’t even require mens rea.

    Competition: These aren’t values of the Olympic Games, at least.

  30. While it’s easy to quibble over whether any or all of these things constitute “white culture”, the infographic makes no normative claims about them. A focus on rationality and science is a good thing, surely, as are many of the others listed.

    The science example I find strange given that the strongest defenders of “white culture” are anti-science as we are seeing through this pandemic.

    1. See my comment above. This isn’t a list of what racists think, what MAGA supporters think, etc., it’s what white American culture has internalized as being expected.

      So even the anti-science people present themselves as being scientific, like when White House PR flack Kayleigh McEnany today claimed studies support reopening schools, or how Trump claims to have praise from scientists, or even his injecting bleach idea that at least follows the valued concept of “cause and effect relationship” listed above. Another example relevant to this website is Creation Science and Intelligent Design, since their anti-science proponents know that appeals to irrational subjective magic don’t make it far in this culture.

      1. Do you listen to the dismissals of side? They literally deny the science that’s inconvenient, and make moves to control what scientific information becomes public. That’s deliberately anti-science, and it a small subset of the ways that there’s an opening hostility towards science.

        1. I never claimed these people believed in science themselves, just that they often know to frame their arguments in the guise of science when addressing the culture as a whole. Because again, this is a list of what white American culture thinks is expected as the default, not a list of what MAGA supporters are like. And indeed, when someone like Trump is dumb enough to expose their anti-science ideals by saying e.g. we should test for COVID less to get less positive results, the white American culture eviscerates him for it. Because valuing science is the expected default.

          1. This is where I disagree – creationism tried to get wider support by invoking God and claiming that science has failed because it excludes God. Similarly Trump enjoys plenty of support among ordinary people while voicing anti-science leanings – its the educated who are eviscerating Trump’s anti-science position (and the wide support he has), not any deference to “white culture”. My outsider perspective (not American) is that there’s a wider battle between the educated and uneducated, and that is happening across western democracies (Yasha Mounk’s book People vs Democracy explores this in some detail). So it’s hard to see what calling this “white culture” adds to the understanding of the acceptance or rejection of science in the wider population. Indeed, to me it just seems downright bizarre given where the anti-science comes from.

            Then again, I’m not American. What y’all huffing over there?

          2. Ah, but you see, white American culture has been created by the educated segment of our society. The people making movies, tv shows, newspapers, record companies and other popular media, which are usually urban, liberal, coastal elites. And thus the “normal” person in e.g an American sitcom is Christian, but not excessively so. Those characters that are ultra religious, like Ned Flanders on The Simpsons, are notable precisely because they break from the default assumption of “normalcy”. Which again, is all this infographic is saying.

            I think if this thing were titled “attributes Americans think are the default for Americans”, nobody would bat an eye at it. But because it emphasizes that white people controlled the majority of influence on American culture and thus are the demographic responsible for what’s considered default, they get defensive or confused.

          3. “I think if this thing were titled “attributes Americans think are the default for Americans”, nobody would bat an eye at it.”
            If I saw that, I wouldn’t be so much baffled by the title as I would be amused at how deluded Americans are about themselves – at least the American(s) who came up with that. It’s neither accurately descriptive or normative for most Americans, and while no doubt aspects of it are embodied by many, there’s just so many divergences and counter-examples, that it’s hard to see how one would see it as anything other than a limiting explication of the American Dream from a very narrow perspective.

            It’s not the culture as American portrays itself to the outside world, it’s not the culture that comes from films, TV shows, books, news, etc. nor from the people themselves. Aspects, sure, but also contradictions. As it should be.

            “But because it emphasizes that white people controlled the majority of influence on American culture and thus are the demographic responsible for what’s considered default, they get defensive or confused.”
            The confusion is more than that. First, what are the implications of it for how a nation understanding race relations should move forward? Take the idea of the protestant work ethic – is the work ethic being part of a “white culture” something that needs addressing as part of race relations?

            A second way it can confuse is that we’re currently in a conversation where the term “white supremacy” is thrown about, and that “white culture” is used as a pejorative to highlight the exclusion of legitimacy of non-white cultures in American life. By calling something like being punctual or providing for your family “white culture” at the same time as wanting to dismantle “white supremacy”, how does that serve to clarify things?

          4. “If I saw that, I wouldn’t be so much baffled by the title as I would be amused at how deluded Americans are about themselves – at least the American(s) who came up with that. It’s neither accurately descriptive or normative for most Americans…”

            See now you’re getting it. I’m sure there are tons of interesting historical explanations of media, politics, etc. that combine to explain our current norms. Also, you could do this for other cultures and they would probably seem deluded in their own ways. If you’ve watched media from England or Japan you’ve no doubt noticed tropes in them that differ from your culture. This infographic is America’s tropes of itself.

            “what are the implications of it for how a nation understanding race relations should move forward? Take the idea of the protestant work ethic – is the work ethic being part of a “white culture” something that needs addressing as part of race relations?”

            A good question. The work ethic example has significant recent exposure, with its bullet point “If you didn’t meet your goals, you didn’t work hard enough.” Stephen Colbert had an interview with conservative Bill O’Reilly where it took all his effort to get Bill to admit that your race is a Factor in your success in America. Which has been extensively supported by sociological research (e.g. hiring rates for the same resume under different names). But if your default assumption of normality is that anyone can achieve their dreams if they try hard enough, then those non-achieving blacks must be lazy. Which is an existing stereotype in America of course.

            “By calling something like being punctual or providing for your family “white culture” at the same time as wanting to dismantle “white supremacy”, how does that serve to clarify things?”

            White culture and white supremacy are different concepts. That’s just you (and obviously others) conflating things.

          5. “See now you’re getting it. I’m sure there are tons of interesting historical explanations of media, politics, etc. that combine to explain our current norms.”
            Except I’m clearly not getting it as I don’t recognise the original post as the image you are saying it’s trying to portray. You say that’s the point, but how can it be the point if it’s not recognisable as the thing you say it is trying to be? Call it clumsy, but it seems nonsensical more than anything.

            “White culture and white supremacy are different concepts. That’s just you (and obviously others) conflating things.”
            I’m not conflating anything, it’s what I’ve heard from others. Like I said back in the beginning, I’m curious as to the normative implications of the initial comments – what are they trying to say with it? I’m not interested in fighting American culture wars – it’s an absolute mess that’s best avoided by anyone who isn’t a sadist / masochist.

      2. The creationiam example is a good example of anti-science, because its adoption of scientific language has nothing to do with science and everything to do with the separation of church and state. Creationism cannot be taught in public schools because it violated the separation of church and state, so it morphed into more science-sounding language to see if it could be taught. Each time it was struck down, it morphed again. And the supporters were religious figures pushing it for religious reasons, getting support for it among congregations.

        In every way it’s anti-science trying to resolve a scientific idea. Pseudosciences all do this – their proponents denigrate actual science, and claim the biases of the scientific establishment. They’re only successful by trying to tear the science do

  31. The museum has taken the graphic DOWN from its website! (The website is still awful, but still.)
    Burn that graphic down! Burn it down!
    Ugh. Small victories.

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