If you want to start a spit-slingin', voice-cracking argument, bring up the topic of race in America. We've come a long way, and we've gone nowhere it seems, unable to discuss something that we're not even sure how to define, and so race is pointedly avoided in polite conversation — and this means the only time we discuss it is in impolite conversation (e.g., talk radio, various shouty TV shows, hate-filled Internet diatribes). We're Americans: We can do better than this. RACE: Are We So Different?, an exhibition created jointly by the American Anthropological Association and the Science Museum of Minnesota, gives us all the chance to do better with this thorny topic. Through interactive exhibits such as The Colors We Are, a computer-aided color scan that matches your skin tone to that of other people, and the Human Race Machine, a photobooth-like device that shows you what you would look like if you were born a race other than your own, the exhibition provides all of us a chance to think about what it means to look like someone else. And frank displays such as The Contemporary Experience of Race and Racism in the United States bring us the golden opportunity to listen to each other, reflect and discuss honestly — and politely — our differences and our similarities without the bile. RACE: Are We So Different? opens at the Missouri History Museum (Lindell Boulevard and DeBaliviere Avenue; 314-746-4599 or www.mohistory.org) at noon on Saturday, January 16, and remains open every day through Sunday, April 4. Admission is $4 to $8.
Jan. 16-April 4, 2010