Curating Identities in the “Other” Office: My “Colored Museum”

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In 1989, I began collecting and populating my university campus office with items reflecting what I knew—from my research, teaching, and lived experience as a Black American—was racist Americana. These items have supplemented my teaching of African American literature and culture for over thirty years, invigorating discussions and breathing life into the texts we study. My collection challenges one of the most esteemed aspects of our profession—alphabet literacy through reading, writing, and books. Embodying past and present, these artifacts are as powerful as books. As my personal traveling library, they go into human spaces in ways books cannot, allowing and inviting viewers’ sensory experiences. Every piece is a story and elicits a range of personal stories, documenting intersectional perspectives on race, gender, sexuality, class, ability, religion, and body size. An exercise in cultural literacy, this collection disrupts mythologies created to restrict and delegitimize the lives of Black people. Challenging my university campus office visitors to confront the reality of me—a Black male faculty member at a predominantly white institution—my collection invites open conversation about race on my terms. My “colored museum” invites all who experience it to reflect on how we experience community building and new meaning making.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number19
JournalHumanities (Switzerland)
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • American race relations
  • Americana
  • Black radical storytelling
  • cultural literacy
  • culture
  • identity
  • memorabilia
  • museum
  • racist artifacts
  • white supremacy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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