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15 Responses to “Rochester’s Carousel is “Not Garbage Art””

  1. Snoop Junkie says:

    Welcome back ROC Subway! In my opinion, history is not something that should be tampered with, under most circumstances. But when it comes to children questioning visuals which undermine feelings of their rightful societal belonging, maybe something needs to be modified. Removal of the artwork, and re-situating in another forum with explanation should be acceptable. Children shouldn’t have to deal with social obstacles such as this while enjoying a simple “Merry go round”. Initially I thought otherwise, but upon further review… as times change, so should our visual normalcy.

  2. Matt says:

    “…children questioning visuals which undermine feelings of their rightful societal belonging.” -SnoopJunkie

    Yes children question visuals, but their feelings are formed from learning from others, not some inherent sense of societal belonging. No one is born racist.

    “Removing this specific scenic panel from the carousel and…is respectfully displayed in an easily viewed public spot, preferably near the carousel or in a local museum.” -William H. Dentzel

    It just feels so contradictory to individualize this one panel and shine a literal light on it, but essentially teach how wrong it is for existing. History doesn’t change, people do. I still advocate for an informative display highlighting ALL of the panels and discussing their place in history, therefore giving no special or sensitive treatment to any one theme and allowing the viewer (children included) to continue the discussion and form their own conclusions.

    Here’s an exercise: Moose becomes a religious icon in the near future and all depictions will be deemed extremist. Yes it is an extreme example, but your feelings towards it would be almost parallel to societal sentiment about minorities at the time of that painting, as they would have balked at the insanity of ‘civil rights’ and ‘all races being equal.’

  3. Snoop Junkie says:

    I’ll sleep fine regardless of what happens to this panel. I’ve ridden this ride numerous times not even being aware of it. But now that it’s well publicized and a focal point for most, young and old, who will ride and definitely notice… can or will it have a negative effect? Yes. A merry go round on a shitty beach shouldn’t hold as much social bearing as this does. There is a place for this panel. But as times change, so does it’s proper place.

  4. Jim Mayer says:

    Bill Dentzel’s letter is spot on. Thanks for publishing it.

  5. Lorraine says:

    Use this as a change to educate people, not erase history.

  6. billd says:

    “Although I have never visited this particular machine ..”

    So shut up, its none of your business. sheesh. He gets to have an opinion because someone two generations removed was involved?

    Anyway, put it in a museum.

  7. Gary says:

    I agree with William Dentzel. I have worked in carousel design and think carousels are delightful. Many of us have warm memories of childhood or early adult experiences involving them. Others have told me so. I would like those memories to be positive. Racist imagery has no place in children’s entertainment. Such things belong in a museum.

    This is an important component of our collective history. We will not understand racism as it exists today if we obliterate its history. American racism is not an accident. While it has a complex history, it was perpetuated in more modern times by just such demeaning images as this, which were considered appropriate as family entertainment a century ago (obviously not for black families, but that was given little thought in 1905). This is an important object that teaches us how discrimination was justified well into the 20th (or even 21st) century. Put it in a museum and explain its significance. But it should be moved. Sensitively replace it with other real or replicated folk art that matches the style and palette of our carousel.

  8. Doug says:

    It would be terrible to remove the panel only to display it more prominently near the carousel. I don’t want to erase the past, but I don’t think people who want to enjoy the ride should be subjected to this racist thing.

    And frankly, I don’t think it’s such a great work of art that it has to be preserved. Do we specifically have to remember that our carousel once displayed this racist panel? Is that serving history or our community? Is this panel really SO important? The Rochester Museum and Science Center does an okay job of covering America’s racist past. I don’t know that this panel would add that much to the exhibits there. (What other museum would be appropriate for this? Everyone’s talking about museums. What museum?)

    I think the most important thing is to get the damp panel away from the carousel.

  9. Doug says:

    Ha ha, I meant to say “damn panel,” not “damp panel.”

  10. Adrian Martin says:

    @Doug
    The Museum of Play would be a good spot, since the carousel was designed for play

  11. Laurie Manera says:

    Reply to billd: It was his grandfather’s company that built it. None of his business? Why shouldn’t he be allowed to have an opinion about something directly connected to his family?

  12. questioning soul says:

    It seems that this issue has made a mountain out of a mole hill.
    Leave it alone, history is what it is. Today is a new day. Much attention and regard is given in the antique world with regard to primitive black folk art as a highly collectible item. It has some worth just as it is, a painting, a piece of art of a different time

  13. Diana Smiith says:

    I can’t believe people look at this as racist. I grew up with tons of chickens and a mean rooster and this would happen many times. I look at this panel and giggle about my younger days. Never thought of it as black and white. I think people would be proud they were displayed in such a historical panel. I think you should leave it and have the children painted white.

  14. Ernest L Barnes says:

    I never knew this panel existed. Then, I was amazed that it was totally different from the theme of every other panel on the carousel. So it leads me to believe the intent was to demean black people as silly and cartoonish; a first step in marginalizing them. I am appalled that the response has been to offer more display of this terrible propaganda. Even in a black church!?? Black people 100 years ago were probably discouraged from riding that carousel. Though Rochester has a rich history elevating human dignity through the works of Frederick Douglas, Harriett Tubman and Susan B Anthony, among others; yet none of them are recognized in this display. Wonder why!?

  15. Paul Testa says:

    There is nothing racist in this image. I rode this carousel as a child and was fascinated by these images and remember this one with the curiosity of a child imagining himself being approached by a big, scary rooster. If anyone sees anything racist here it is from your own heart.It doe9 exist in this innocent image. You had better look at yourself and ask why does this look demeaning or racist to ME?


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