Skip to content

Smithsonian Institution begins new initiative on minorities


‘Our Shared Future’

The past of the USA is riddled with racism that has impacted the current perceptions of minority communities. These actions have led to history being skewed and misleading. But with the new Smithsonian Institution initiative, “Our Shared Future: Reckoning with Our Racial Past,” minority communities are educating the public on the experience and the effect racism had on them.  Together with Los Angeles cultural institutions and museums, they will present a collaborative series of public programs between Dec. 1 - Dec. 17 to explore how race has transformed each of their lives and how racist events and policies of the past connect to glaring inequities in our society today.

“This initiative was created in 2020 after the tragic death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minnesota police. The program started because the leaders of the Smithsonian wanted to use resources to address not only past actions and consequences of racism but also share real history with guests,” said  Deborah Mack, director of the Smithsonian’s national initiative, said as she explained the program and how it came about. “We started with focusing on the area we could address, which include race and wellness, race and place, public policy and ethics, art and atheistic, and finally race beyond the United States.”

Mack concluded by emphasizing the perception of the nation from the outside and the perception of its residents are vastly different from one another, and it starts with people's experiences of race and racism. “ We recognized there are many voices, different approaches, and different understandings that we had to take into account when creating this collaborative program with other institutes and historians,” Mack said. 

The Los Angeles cultural institutions and museums were selected as the places to host these programs because of the “rich culture” and background of being leaders for change towards racism, according to Mack. The seminars will take place at several museums across Los Angeles, including LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes and the Japanese-American National Museum. Guests will learn about the struggles of the Black, Latino, and Asian communities as they simulated in America and how they each experienced racism. 

Leticia Rhi Buckley, chief executive officer of LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes, agrees with Mack and is happy La Plaza could partner with the Smithsonian on the initiative and host seminars.

“It is important to note that our institutions, among others, exist to reckon with our racial past, give voice to the present, and affect the future,” Buckley said. “The history that will be learned during these seminars about Latino experiences in Los Angeles is not talked about in school textbooks, so guests will be immersed into a world foreign and unknown to them, while others will get a different perspective of what their ancestors had to go through for them to live the way they do.” 

The program begins on Dec.1 at the Japanese-American National Museum,100 N. Central Ave. in Downtown LA, is free to the public, and will rotate every day at different museums across the city through Dec. 17. For more details, visit www.our shared   

This article is a part of a series of articles for Our Weekly’s #StopTheHate campaign and is supported in whole or part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library. #NoPlaceForHateCA, #StopAAPIHate, #CaliforniaForAll