Sorting Out Race: Examining Racial Identity and Stereotypes in Thrift Store Donations

Opening September 1, 2019

This image depicts an array of items you would find in a thrift store from decades past that have imagery that is considered today racist iconography.

September 1 to December 31, 2019

Sorting Out Race: Examining Racial Identity and Stereotypes in Thrift Store Donations 

Presented with support from the University of Arizona Office of Inclusion and Multicultural Engagement, this traveling exhibit provides an engaging opportunity to provoke discussions about race and stereotypes and what drives our perceptions of people who are different than ourselves. Every day, thrift stores receive donations of items with racial imagery--antique advertising cards, collectible salt-and-pepper shakers, vintage children's books, and mugs with sports team mascots. Are these harmless reminders of past attitudes or do they perpetuate stereotypes about race? Should thrift stores sell these objects or should they be "sorted out" of the resale environment? Created by the Kaufman Museum at Bethel College, Sorting Out Race arose out of a desire to divert these artifacts from thrift stores to an exhibit that would generate a healthy community conversation about our continuing struggles with race. 

This exhibit received a 2018 American Association of State and Local History Leadership in History award.