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African-American history explored in new educational Web site on Race

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January 31, 2007

African-American history explored in new educational Web site on Race

In time for Black History Month, the American Anthropological Association offers children and parents, students and teachers, researchers and many others a new Web resource for exploring African-American history and the history of race in the United States— is designed to reach a wide audience—in the United States and beyond—providing the latest in scientific and scholarly information about race and human variation in an engaging and easy-to-understand format.

Contents include interactive timelines that cover 400 years of historic events in government, science and society, including sections on slavery and the invention of race, emancipation, immigration and black migration, the post-war boom and discrimination, civil rights, the anti-immigration movement and racial profiling, science's attempts to “measure” race, and modern genetics efforts to understand human variation and ancestry.

Beyond history, the Web site also explores the science of human variation and relationships among genetics, skin and health. Interactive pieces include “The Game of Life Experience” and test— your-knowledge quizzes on human variation, sports and stereotypes, and “Who is white?” Visitors can also join in discussions about race on the site's blog. The Web site features resources for teachers and parents, including two Teacher's Guides and a Family Guide to Talking About Race.

“Attempting to poke holes in prejudices and provide the latest scientific and scholarly understanding of the issue, the American Anthropological Association has created an interactive educational program called Race: Are We So Different?...The interactive timeline is especially helpful, as it allows students to track race in America as it evolved in government, science and society.” -- Paul D. Thacker in online news magazine Inside Higher Ed (“Teaching America About Race,” Jan. 11, 2007).

Also compelling is the 7-minute youth documentary, “A Girl Like Me,” by teen filmmaker Kiri Davis. In it, Davis conducts interviews with peers about the messages society sends AfricanAmerican children about “attractiveness” that make them question their worth. Additionally, she reconducts Dr. Kenneth Clark's landmark “doll test,” which was used in the historic Brown vs. Board of Education desegregation case. Administered in the present day, the test still yields sobering results, providing key lessons for students of history and others. was created by AAA in association with S2N Media Inc., an award winning Web development and design firm from New York State. The Web site is part of a national public education project—“RACE: Are We So Different?”™— created by AAA, with funding from the Ford Foundation and National Science Foundation.

The project has produced a traveling museum exhibit that made its debut Jan. 10 at the Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul. The exhibit will begin a tour to other U.S. communities in May over the next four years.

Founded in 1902, the American Anthropological Association is the world's largest professional organization of anthropologists and others interested in anthropology, with an average annual membership of more than 10,000. The Arlington, VA-based association represents all specialties within anthropology—cultural anthropology, biological (or physical) anthropology, archaeology, linguistics and applied anthropology.

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