I received this letter to the executive board of the Houston Children’s Museum and wanted to share it with Funk & Beans readers. It discusses the representation of children of color as criminals in an exhibit at the Children’s Museum. If you feel that this is uncalled for, I urge you to contact the Houston Children’s Museum and ask them to address this matter. The photos taken of the exhibit are listed below the letter.
I am contacting you regarding what I believe is a very offensive display in your themed forensic unit within Kitropolis. Not only have you chosen to display children as criminals with mugshots, but for the two examples depicted you have chosen to display two Hispanic youth. As an institution that prides itself on its service to multicultural and multilingual populations it saddens me, as a parent first and foremost, that you would depict minority children as criminals in a “mock” real-life environment.
This exhibit is a blatant display of racism as the whole point of Kidtropolis is to parallel reality. Research has shown minorities are already subjected to an unfair disproportionate number of arrests and convictions in Texas. Minority juveniles have been found to have increased risk for arrest, irrespective of their behavior (Piquero, 2008). Additionally, as tempers rise regarding race relations locally as well as nationally, especially in border states, this display only adds fuel to the fire and leaves open too much room for negative interpretations by children as well as parents. I have no problem with the relevancy of the themed forensic unit, but I do not see why generic characters (i.e. cartoon characters or fruit/veggies) could not pose for a mug shot instead of a minority child.
I am respectfully requesting the removal of these minority children as suspects by Thursday, September 20, 2012 by 5pm. If the depictions are not removed by this date, I will be obliged to begin a petition for their removal as well as go to the local news outlets regarding this issue. As a parent of a toddler, fan and past childhood visitor of the Children’s Museum of Houston, I would like nothing more than the pictures removed, and the institution to continue upholding its mission statement through cultural competency as well as cultural sensitivity. Although, I cannot sit by idle with such obvious ignorant and disturbing depictions as this. I have also attached photos of the exhibit in question.
Reference: Piquero, Alex R. 2008. Disproportionate Minority Contact. The Future of Children Journal 18:59-79.
Thank you and I look forward to a timely response,
MSW Candidate 2013
UH GCSW ABSW President
UH GCSW ABSW Community Service Chairman