May, 2010Since January 2010, the Institute of Texan Cultures has challenged San Antonians and visitors alike to examine their understanding of race and racism through “RACE: Are We So Different,” a cutting-edge exhibit from the Science Museum of Minnesota and American Anthropological Association.
Designed to increase the quantity and quality of discussions on a sensitive issue, RACE’s mission will continue after the exhibit concludes on May 16.
Race Forums, facilitated discussions with the institute’s educators and trained volunteers, have allowed participants to consider and reflect upon how others view the role race plays in society and, perhaps, to better understand how race affects everyone. Forums have been well received by church and mosque groups, student organizations and classes, businesses such as HEB, military units and staff from social service organizations such as CPS.
The institute will continue to offer the Race Forum as a regular program. Forums are free with general admission and recommended for groups of 10 or more. Groups interested in a forum should schedule with the institute prior to visiting.
“When we first offered Race Forums to the public, I was not sure how many people in our community would be open to discussing such a sensitive topic as race with a group of strangers,” said Matthew Anderson, an educational specialist at the institute and a forum facilitator. “In just three months we have had 500 participants. This is more than four times as many people as participated in the much larger Science Museum of Minnesota exhibit, where RACE debuted and was displayed twice as long.”
When asked to give an example of a positive effect he has seen, Anderson described the experience of a Race Forum where a recent immigrant from India shared with the group, through tears, “Excuse me. I’m crying, because I did not realize that all Americans struggle with the issue of racism. I feel comforted to know that it is a challenge we face together.”
For more information on the Institute of Texan Cultures and Race Forums, including scheduling, visit www.TexanCultures.com or call (210) 458-2300 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (210) 458-2300 end_of_the_skype_highlighting.
The Institute of Texan Cultures, an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, is on the UTSA HemisFair Park Campus, 801 E. Durango Blvd., a short distance from the Alamo and the River Walk. Regular hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Saturday; noon-5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $8 for adults (ages 12-64); $7 for seniors (ages 65+); $6 for children (ages 3-11); free with membership, UTSA or Alamo Colleges identification.
The Institute of Texan Cultures, through its research, collections, exhibits and programs, serves as the forum for the understanding and appreciation of Texas and Texans. The institute strives to become the nation’s premier institution of contemporary cultural and ethnic studies, focusing on Texans and the diverse cultural communities that make Texas what it is. An agency of the Vice President for Community Services at The University of Texas at San Antonio and a Smithsonian Affiliate, the 182,000 square foot complex, featuring 45,000 square feet of exhibit space and five recreation Texas Frontier period structures, is located on the UTSA HemisFair Park Campus in downtown San Antonio. Resources for multiple audiences are available at TexanCultures.com.