African American Museum in DC Says ‘Hard Work’ a Sign of Whiteness

The National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington, D.C., raised eyebrows with graphic posted inside a paper on “Whiteness and White Culture” that clarifies certain signs of whiteness that include “individualism and hard work.”

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The graphic went viral on Wednesday after it was reposted by the Washington Examiner’s Byron York who pointed out that the institution wants to “make you aware of certain signs of whiteness: Individualism, hard work, objectivity, the nuclear family, progress, respect for authority, delayed gratification,” to name a few.

The story on the Examiner’s website was titled, “The National Museum of African American History and Culture Goes Full White Supremacist.”

The museum, which is considered a Smithsonian Institution-maintained organization, issued a paper for museumgoers to challenge themselves about preconceived notions on whiteness. The museum says the issue is important because “white people in America hold most of the political, institutional, and economic power, they receive advantages that nonwhite groups do not.”

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The paper challenges its readers to consider all the advantages of being white. And said it is impossible for white people to be marginalized over their skin color.

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“Being white does not mean you haven’t experienced hardships or oppression,” the paper read. “Being white does mean you have not faced hardships or oppression based on the color of your skin.”

One of the questions in the paper asks, “Stop and Think! How does being white grant certain privileges? How might white people experience oppression through other social identities, e.g., class, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ability, etc.?”

A graphic inside the paper, titled, “Aspects & Assumptions of Whiteness & White Culture in the United States,” pointed to society’s apparent standards put in place by whiteness. Some of the attributes include a nuclear family with “2.3 children is the ideal social unit,” children should have own rooms, be independent and a “Protestant Work Ethic” where “hard work is the key to success.”

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Another question in the paper asks, “How does white dominant culture leave others out?”

All is not lost, however. The paper says whites could face their own whiteness, which would be a “crucial step to help end racism.” (But the paper points out the facing your whiteness can lead to feelings of guilt, sadness, confusion, defensiveness or fear.”

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