While racist robots are one thing, racist museum exhibits are quite another.
Recently a video has circulated online showing an astonishingly offensive exhibit at a Chinese museum in which photos of Africans are framed alongside photos of animals sporting similar expressions.
The video was originally uploaded by Nigerian Instagram user Edward E. Duke. “首都博物馆 the capital museum in Wuhan, China put pictures of a particular race next to wild animals why? Are they the only race to have impoverished looking,” Duke wrote in the post that has since been deleted for reasons unknown.
Though Duke said that the exhibition took place at “the capital museum in Wuhan,” he actually meant the Hubei Provincial Museum in Wuhan where the exhibit opened prior to Golden Week and managed to draw thousands of visitors each day.
The special exhibit is called “This is Africa” portraying the works of Chinese photographer Yu Huiping, which are aimed at giving visitors a sense of “primitive life” in Africa showing the harmony of humans, animals and nature. Yu, the vice-president of Hubei’s Photographers Association, has visited Africa more than 20 times over the past decade and says that he has a deep love for its people and wildlife, promoting the conservation of its natural resources and beauty.
Zhao Yingxin, president of the China Photographic Publishing House, gave a glowing review of Yu’s works. “Yu Huiping’s photography is perceptive, smart and visually impactful, capturing the vitality of primitive life. The photos seem to jump right out of the lens, leap out of the screen.”
The museum’s director, Fang Qin, said that while the museum is mostly concerned with cultural relics he sees the “This is Africa” exhibit as a way of providing a wider range of knowledge and artistic interest to visitors, enhancing the museum’s mission of social education and enriching the cultural life of the masses.
One visitor, surnamed Zhang from Hunan, couldn’t help but linger in the exhibition hall, saying that the beautiful images gave him a rare and deep understanding of African customs and conditions.
At the opening of the exhibition on September 28th, Yu auctioned off his works for charity, raising 5.1 million yuan for a local foundation that helps impoverished youths and other vulnerable groups in Hubei province.
While video from the exhibit has been deleted from Duke’s Instagram page, it remains up elsewhere on social media. You can watch below. It’s really… something to behold.
The part of the exhibit in which faces of Africans are placed alongside those of animals is titled “相由心生,” a Chinese idiom that means something like “outward appearance follows inner reality.”
Black foreigners visiting or living in China are often dumbfounded by the casual instances of racism that they experience because of their skin color. Most infamously, last year, an ad for a Chinese laundry detergent brand shocked the world, showing a black man being shoved into a washing machine for a thorough rinsing, only to emerge as a pristine young Chinese man.
[Editor’s Note: 03:40 pm] This post has been updated to provide more information about the museum exhibition.
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