The "RACE: Are We So Different" traveling exhibit will soon leave the college campus, but the hope is that its message has found a more permanent home at Luther.
Luther Professor of Sociology Char Kunkel believes the display accomplished the intended goals of bringing such an exhibit to Luther and the Decorah community. Kunkel says, "I think it achieved the goals of a conversation starter. It is now up to us to continue that conversation and make real change on our campus and in our community."
The RACE project, set in the framework of a year-long antiracism theme at Luther, sparked a two-day workshop in February for faculty about creating and handling difficult conversations about racism. Luther has also had speakers and book readings about the topic. Other goals included raising awareness of racism's history and relevance today, drawing attention to racism's social construction and consequences, and emphasizing the need to end racial discrimination and hate.
She says, "The exhibit will move on, and Luther will continue dialogue and action to dismantle systemic racism."
As the time dwindles down for people to check out the project, Kunkel is adamant about why everyone should come check it out. She explains, "People should come because there is so much history that we were not taught in school that we need to know. This is an opportunity to educate oneself and visualize, interact with the construct of race."
Kunkel continues, "In three words, it is educational, mind-blowing, and life-changing." In other words, it is a must-see.
And the Luther campus and the Decorah community seem to agree with Kunkel. At a grand opening last September, hundreds from the Luther campus and the community attended. Over the last 5 months, hundreds of students, from college-aged to kindergarten through 12th grade, have visited. "It has had an awesome reception. It has been a privilege to have the exhibit here," Kunkel says.
Part of the appeal of the exhibit that draws in so many different age groups are the many ways to access the information as you walk through. There are interactive touchscreen displays, striking visual representations, and many pictures and stories.
The final day to see the display is March 13th. It is free and open to the public, and located on campus at the Gjerset House. To experience this eye-opening display before it leaves on March 13th, call 563-387-1001 to reserve a space for yourself or your classroom or group.