Withdraw the racist Exhibition "Exhibit B - The Human Zoo" from showing at the Barbican from 23rd-27th September
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A piece of work, 'Exhibit B', by the controversial white South African Brett Bailey is coming to the Barbican Centre in London this September. It is based on the 19th century phenomenon of the human zoo, in which African tribespeople were displayed for the entertainment of European and American audiences. One case describes the Congolese pygmy Ota Benga who, in 1906, was put on display at the Bronx zoo in New York alongside the apes and giraffes. They literally created human zoos at the expense of black people.
This piece of work by Bailey has been toured around Europe sparking protests and outrage by anti-racism campaigners. Now it is coming to London, and I’m calling on the Barbican not to display it.
I’m a Black African mother from Birmingham. I campaign and work with my community to try to breakdown the stereotypes that black people have to struggle against in society on a daily basis. I want my children to grow up in a world where the barbaric things that happened to their ancestors are a thing of the past. We have come a long way since the days of the grotesque human zoo - we should not be taking steps back now.
If Brett Bailey is trying to make a point about slavery this is not the way to do it. The irony gets lost and it’s not long before the people behind the cage begin to feel like animals trapped in a zoo. One of the actors in his piece said “How do you know we are not entertaining people the same way the human zoos did?”
Bailey himself sounds unsure as to the impact of this work. In an interview with the Guardian he says: "For all I know, I could look back at Exhibit B in 10 years and say, 'Oh my God, I am doing exactly what they are accusing me of."
Please join me in calling on the Barbican to withdraw the racist Exhibition "Exhibit B - The Human Zoo" from showing at the Barbican from 23rd-27th September.
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