Every day thrift stores across America receive donations of objects that display racial imagery—antique advertising cards, collectible salt-and-pepper shakers, vintage children’s books, and mugs with sports team mascots. Are these objects harmless reminders of historical attitudes or do they continue to perpetuate negative stereotypes about race? Should thrift stores sell these objects? Or should they be “sorted out” of the resale environment and discarded?
Sorting Out Race arose out of a desire to divert artifacts with racial content from thrift stores to an exhibit that would generate a healthy community conversation about racial stereotypes past and present in order to heighten awareness of our continuing struggles with race.
Original exhibit concept by Leia Lawrence.