National Museum of African American History Wants to Document Your COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter Stories

The museum in Washington, D.C., is currently closed because of the pandemic, but its online collection is just as fascinating as an in-person visit.
The museum in Washington, D.C., is currently closed because of the pandemic, but its online collection is just as fascinating as an in-person visit.
Difference engine, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 4.0

Last month, the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) launched “Voices Of Resistance And Hope,” a web portal where members of Black communities can share their experiences of life during the coronavirus pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement.

As Travel + Leisure reports, those experiences can be in just about any format you want. First-hand accounts, personal stories, essays, poems, and observations are all mentioned on the portal as possible submissions, but you’re not confined to the written word; image and video files are accepted, too, so you can also send in photos or footage taken during protests, for example, or even original music and digital artwork inspired by this moment in America's history. Your content must have a title and a category designation—COVID-19, quarantine, self-reflection, or social unrest—but you’re allowed to enter your name as “Anonymous” and decide whether the museum can contact you about your submission.

“Your personal expressions can help to create shared experiences with others in the nation and reinforce what so many of us are longing for during these turbulent times—an opportunity to celebrate the American values of resiliency, optimism, and spirituality,” the portal reads.

The campaign is hosted by the NMAAHC’s Robert F. Smith Fund Community Curation Platform, an online landing site where you can explore all the submissions. There are vintage family photos, journal entries about people’s personal experiences at protest marches, and even a letter that The Quaker Oats Company sent to a student who reached out about their controversial Aunt Jemima logo … in 1968.

You can submit your own content here, and view the collection here.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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Who Was Jim Crow?

Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain
Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

The name Jim Crow appears throughout many U.S. history books. It's used in reference to both the laws that segregated Black and white Americans in the Southern United States and the region itself during the period when these laws were enforced. Jim Crow Laws and the Jim Crow South were very real from the late 19th through the mid-20th centuries, but a real person named Jim Crow never existed. The name comes from a fictional character used to perpetuate racist stereotypes before the Civil War.

According to Ferris State University, a white performer named Thomas Dartmouth Rice originated the Jim Crow caricature in the 1830s. Rice, known as "the Father of Minstrelsy," would don blackface and affect an exaggerated African American dialect while performing his musical act. Jim Crow was meant to be a racist stereotype of an enslaved person: Like many minstrel personas that came after him, the character was portrayed as a clumsy buffoon.

Though Rice didn't invent minstrelsy, his success helped popularize the stage show format. Inspired by Rice, other minstrel actors borrowed his Jim Crow routine, and soon whites were using the name as a derogatory term for African Americans.

Even after slavery was abolished and minstrel shows faded into obscurity, the Jim Crow character lived on as a label. According to History, the first Jim Crow laws were passed in the Reconstruction Period as a way to limit the rights and resources of newly freed Blacks in the South. Such laws imposed literacy tests on Black voters, segregated public schools, and made it legal for businesses to segregate their customers by race.

How exactly these laws became associated with Jim Crow is unclear, but the phrase Jim Crow Laws was being used by the late 19th century. An 1892 article from The New York Times used the wording when reporting on Louisiana's segregated railroad cars.

Though most people may not be aware of the name's origins, Jim Crow still comes up today when discussing this dark period in U.S. history and its lasting effect on the country.

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