Students Learning About Race at the History Colorado Exhibit by Zach Leavitt

“The thing about genes, how race has nothing to do with genes — I never would have thought that,” remarked Denver South High student James Hardy.

The History Colorado Center is currently offering an exhibit exploring race titled Race: Are We So Different?. It explores concepts of race through the lenses of history, science, and the lived experience of people today. The exhibit highlights current science which suggests all humans share common ancestry, and that many of the most visible differences between people are the results of migration, natural variations, and adaptation to various environments.

History Colorado has published teacher’s guides for middle and high school educators to aid in discussing race and human variation in the classroom. Hardy’s sociology teacher, Hayley Vatch, is leading her students on an investigation into the roots of race and racism in history and how racial stereotypes affect people today. The unit included a visit to the Race exhibit, and gave students a new understanding of race as an invention of culture, a social construct, rather than a scientific fact with clearly delineable categories.

The exhibit Race: Are we So Different? will run through January 4, 2015. If you can’t make it, you can also check out the website which includes an online virtual tour and a blog series featuring experts on race. In a recent post Dena R. Samuels, Ph.D., Director, Matrix Center for the Advancement of Social Equity & Inclusion asserted, “‘Taking account of race’ means thinking about how we can engage younger generations on this topic. It is the only way we will solve the problem of racism.” In a recent interview April Legg, manager of school and teacher programs at History Colorado Center, pointed out, “With the recent events in Ferguson, students are paying attention and they know what’s going on… They are seeking understanding and they are seeking information.” At a moment when important questions about race and justice have taken center stage in our national discourse, History Colorado Center’s exhibit offers a timely opportunity for visitors to learn about this complex topic.

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  1. This is a wonderful way to approach eliminating racism in today’s society. I like how it focuses on a scientific approach, a history approach as well as focusing on racism today.