Does this make you uncomfortable?

Friday, August 19th, 2016
  • Black girls

    I spotted these figures in an antique shop called Galerie Etienne Thuriet in Chartres. I’m guessing there is a history behind the statues of the black women and their pose, but the owner of the store wasn’t exactly conversational so I wasn’t able to get any useful information about them. As I looked at the figures, their expressions, and their pose, I wondered who would buy them, and would the historical overtones of such a purchase occur to them at all?

    The figures make me uncomfortable, but I find myself wondering if this is racist, or does its status as an antique somehow divorce it from the ugly history I’m assuming it has? Even if there is no such ugly history here, does the fact it makes me uncomfortable mean that it’s racist today, and therefore something to be hidden away as an unfortunate relic, or even, as some might suggest, destroyed?

    I’m against destroying historical artifacts because we’re no longer comfortable with them. I think wiping history clean of its ugly moments robs us of valuable opportunities to learn anything. Imagine the history that would be removed through time as different generations grapple with their discomfort of the past.

    I tried to find some history for these figures online, but my search drew a blank. If you know anything, please feel free to share your knowledge, links, or whatever in the comments.

    See the shop using Google street view.