Ask Amy: Fam­ily won­ders how to ad­dress racist photo.

Orlando Sentinel - - FRONT PAGE - Ask Amy Amy Dick­in­son

Dear Amy: When my hus­band and his three brothers di­vided up what was left of my in-laws’ pos­ses­sions af­ter my fa­ther-in­law died, we re­ceived the ma­jor­ity of pho­tos. I fi­nally have time to go through and sort them.

In the process, I came upon a very large photo that was taken in 1934 and it showed every­one from my mother-in-law’s Hal­loween of­fice party.

Al­most every­one in the photo is dressed in a cos­tume, and that’s where my prob­lem comes in.

There must be about 50 to 70 peo­ple in the photo, and four of them are in black face. Al­though I am ap­palled by this, I also feel that it is a piece of my hus­band’s fam­ily his­tory.

I feel it’s some­thing that needs to be ad­dressed, be­cause (to para­phrase a great quote), if we don’t learn from his­tory, we’re bound to re­peat it.

— Photo Fin­ished

Dear Fin­ished: I just fin­ished read­ing an ar­ti­cle by prominent African-Amer­i­can scholar and Har­vard pro­fes­sor Henry Louis Gates on whether ar­ti­facts such as this should be kept, or burned in a mas­sive hell­fire.

Af­ter out­lin­ing both sides of the ar­gu­ment, Gates comes down on the side of sav­ing these heinous re­minders of racism that Amer­i­cans have both in­flicted and en­dured, for the ex­act rea­son you cite.

You should con­sider do­nat­ing this photo to an ar­chive that will place it into con­text. Har­vard Univer­sity houses an ex­ten­sive col­lec­tion called: “Im­age of the Black in West­ern Art ar­chive,” com­prised of over 26,000 im­ages, some of which are quite ob­vi­ously and overtly racist. You should also dis­cuss this openly in your fam­ily; it is a per­fect il­lus­tra­tion of how racism is shot through our coun­try's his­tory, re­vealed even in some­thing as be­nign as an of­fice Hal­loween party.

Dear Amy: “Wor­ried Mom in Cal­i­for­nia” was freak­ing out be­cause she found a va­p­ing unit in her daugh­ter’s purse. Thank you for dis­cussing the un­known health risks of va­p­ing.

—Wor­ried Par­ent

Dear Wor­ried: Va­p­ing has be­come an in­creas­ing chal­lenge in high schools. Par­ents should be aware of this, but no, I don’t think they should freak out.

You can con­tact Amy Dick­in­son via email: askamy@amy­dick­in­son.com. Read­ers may send postal mail to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068.

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