This edition of “Pittsburghers Speak Up” aims to discover people’s different experiences of and opinions on race. In 2014 in America, where we are meant to feel so racially united, race still serves as a prominent form of separation. It can unify people within their own communities, but it can also easily be used as a tool for segregation, prejudice, and isolation.
It is both disappointing and intriguing that race continues to surface as a subject— as an active topic of dialogue in our homes, communities, and nations. It is disappointing because our interpretation of the word is often shallow. Yet it is intriguing to consider the differences that persist among us despite after so many thousands of years on this planet. Our hair colors and textures are different. So too are our eye colors: brown, hazel, green, and blue. Does that mean that because we are looking through different lenses we are seeing different things? Or are we seeing the same things with different interpretations? By definition, race means a family, a tribe, or a nation belonging to the same stock. Does our membership to that family mean that our life experiences will be the same?
During the course of this project, it has been fascinating to see the differences—and surprising similarities—between the answers to questions on race posed in the 1950s and 1960s, and those asked (identically) in the new millennium. We are humbled and honored to have served as curators and interpreters for such an enthralling and still-sensitive subject.
—Lynne Hayes Freeland and Nikkia Margaret Hall