Confronting Racist Objects in Antique Stores

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I love antiquing, I love history. Inevitably I encounter racist objects from the past sitting around on a shelf somewhere. I've seen racist caricatures of Asians, atrocious stereotypes of black people, Native Americans, and Nazi collectibles which make me nauseous.


I'm not a confrontational person. I used to be in my 20s in my riot grrl days. My anonymous zine in college was filled with in-your-face anger and smashing the patriarchy verbiage. Nowadays, I don't feel like it's my job as a woman of color to have to educate vintage dealers (usually white) about problematic items. I believe it is their responsibility to research and to ask who profits from and is harmed by the visual portrayal of these objects. I don't want to "have a conversation" with the store owners and give my free labor to them. Nor do I want to buy these items because 1) I already own a whole bunch and 2) I don't want to give my money to them.


So I have devised a strategy to make me feel like I am doing something vs. nothing. This works for ME, may not for you, everyone has a different way.


I hide the racist object somewhere else deep in the store (assuming it's not in a glass case) then I leave this JUST SAY NO, Mad-lib-style note with the item. The note says:


JUST SAY NO

This object is harmful to (group of people) because it is:

( ) A racist stereotype

( ) A celebration of historical atrocity (ie: the holocaust, genocide)

To learn more, google "confronting racist objects", "Jim Crow Museum", "model minority"


I made this a downloadable image so you can print it out and take it with you next time you go antiquing! Leave a message for the next person who may not be aware of how these objects are harmful to specific groups of people.


Thanks for smashing the patriarchy with me!


Download Just Say No


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Fresh Off the Boa

 

Stripping through the American immigrant dream one feather at a time. Sharing my life as a burlesque performer, a NYC advertising Art Director (now remote), a woman of color, an ex-New Yorker of 22 years, a Texan at heart, a foodie, and a lover of vintage culture and glamour. Welcome to Calamity's blog!