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Health & Spirit

Professor wants to be rid of racist books

By Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: I am a retired college professor who did years of research about American slavery and slaveholders.

I own a set of very racist 19th-century books that were part of my research.

It is now time for me to reduce the size of my library, but I am afraid to sell these books because, given the mood in our country today and the rise of white supremacy, I'm afraid these books will be bought by people who will be reinforced in their racist ideologies.

I know they can get the books in other ways (if they knew about them), and I don't believe in burning books. I have offered them to several libraries but to no avail. I am very worried about what to do.

-- Concerned Ph.D.

Dear Concerned: Researching possible solutions for you, I recommend trying the Jim Crow Museum, housed at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan.

 

This is from the museum's website (ferris.edu/jimcrow):

"The Jim Crow Museum is the largest publicly accessible collection of segregation and racist artifacts in the United States. These objects are used to teach tolerance and promote social justice. The Museum is free and open to the public; therefore, the Museum is largely dependent on donations-financial and in-kind-to enhance its work."

Photos of various exhibits from the museum show a wide variety of curated bigotry -- gathered for the purpose of educating the public about the deep shame of America's racist history.

Pointedly, the museum's website notes that they are currently being somewhat flooded with donations. I take this as a good sign, as Americans become more sensitive to the books, films, toys, products, signage, and other cultural messages that only a generation ago might have seemed acceptable (or merely embarrassing) to white Americans, but are now quite appropriately seen for what they are: abhorrent signifiers of racism.

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