‘Sorting out Race’: Newton thrift store items create exhibit, shine light on racism

KSN Digital Extra

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A museum in North Newton, Kansas is highlighting racism and stereotypes with items from a local thrift store.

“There are a whole variety of images and artifacts in the exhibit, some that are just a part of your lives today, things you wouldn’t even think twice about,” said Kauffman Museum Director, Andi Schmidt Andres.

The exhibit is set up near the entrance of the museum and looks like the front of a thrift store. The idea for the exhibit came from a local thrift store manager who noticed items coming through the store that had racist or stereotype images on them, that’s when she took action.

“She didn’t want to put them back into the retail stream to encourage those images to remain out in the world,” said Schmidt Andres. “She saved them up, had a good collection of them and came to us and said ‘You know this is really thought-provoking, what do we want to do with these?'”

That’s when the museum collaborated with the thrift store and started the exhibit, calling it ‘Sorting out Race.’ The Kauffman museum staff researched, designed and created the exhibit nearly six years ago. Now the exhibit has been traveling to different states across the country.

“We really want people to have conversations and community conversations,” said Schmidt Andres. “‘What kinds of biases do we have already? What kind of things you’ve seen your entire life that you didn’t think twice about and then suddenly you realize ‘Oh my gosh, I’m putting that person in a box or I’m thinking about a situation this way.'”

Schmidt Andres said the most important thing is to get people talking and raising awareness about things that are sometimes overlooked because they’re familiar.

The exhibit will be on display through Nov. 29, then it will go back on the road to make its way to other museums in the U.S.

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