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‘Take It Down!’ exhibit returns to RMSC

Messenger Post Media

The “Take It Down! Organizing Against Racism” traveling exhibit has returned to it’s home at the Rochester Museum & Science Center.

A panel featuring racist artwork was removed from the Dentzel Carousel at Ontario Beach Park in 2016 after being on display for 111 years. The Take It Down Planning Committee created this exhibit to show that pickaninny art perpetuates ongoing individual, institutional and structural racism by denying the humanity of Black children.

“It’s important to bring the ‘Take It Down! Organizing Against Racism’ exhibit into the community annually as a tribute to Minister Franklin D. Florence Sr. and others who worked hard to make it’s development possible,” said representatives from the Take It Down Planning Committee. “In addition to serving as a reminder of the fact that racism is still alive and well, its proof-positive of the fact that it can be impacted by way of community organizing. The ultimate value of the exhibit is it’s immeasurable worth as an effective teaching-tool, relative to understanding the historical and ongoing existence, nature and manifestations of individual, institutional and structural racism.”

The exhibit is on display alongside “Objectively Racist: How Objects and Images Perpetuate Racism … And What We Can Do To Change It.” This exhibit. includes images, product packaging, knick-knacks and other objects that perpetuate individual, institutional and structural racism, and dissects the significance of them.

Doug Belton Sr. lent these objects to RMSC for display with the intention of donating them to its collection.

“[This imagery] has existed a long time and a lot of it was made here in New York state,” Belton said. “Not only was it degrading, it was a way to make money for a lot of companies, especially food and tobacco companies. A lot of people think that racism and racist objects only exist down south, but it happened all over.

“I think it’s important to know past history, so we can deal with future history and make sure that bad history does not repeat itself.”

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