“We do not learn about our history by sitting in cages or sitting in slave ships and re-enacting how many lashes we had and seeing our skins with all those abrasions.” On Exhibit B-The human zoo. A great talk by Esther Stanford-Xosei.

The Barbican center is yet to cancel the awfully racist, dehumanising and traumatising exhibition titled ‘Exhibit B’ by white South African, Brett Bailey. Exhibit B- the human zoo, is a dehumanising, racist voyeurism in the name of art.

Below is a video of a great talk by “Reparationist, Jurisconsult, dynamic community advocate and radio Broadcaster Esther Stanford-Xosei” courtesy of London Live 360 TV  It is a must watch interview!


Transcribed excerpts from  Esther Stanford-Xosei  interview-

This is not about history, this is about the present and this is about the way in which we are still seen in this very infantile, animalistic, childlike faction, as though somehow we need to seat in cages, in dudgeons in London to remember a trauma that we live every day. The fact that our children in some parts of the world can be shot down for simply just being black and of African heritage is a manifestation of that dehumanisation and that trauma. So we do not need to go into artificial environments in the name of art where people are making money. This is more than offensive, it is definitely about racism.

It is not about not telling the story, it is not about not learning about this history. It is about the means and the methodology of how we learn. We do not learn about our history by sitting in cages, or going and sitting in slave ships and re-enacting how many laps, lashes and whatever we had and seeing our skins with all those abrasions. That in itself is traumatic and in fact that is a re-traumatising experience.

The history that we need to be learning about is our history of resistance, our history of standing up, our history of actually transforming the world because we asserted our humanity and our dignity but that exhibition is not designed to have African youth look upon themselves and their history with pride.

It is just in the way in which enslavement is taught, if you just teach people were just brutalised, and victimised and helpless and degraded even though that has been part of our history, and you do not teach about what we’ve bequeath to humanity, if you do not teach about who we were before enslavement, if you do not teach about how our struggle to reclaim and assert our humanity have actually transformed the world and influence the notion of human rights and all other peoples struggle for freedom. If we do not teach about the importance of everyday resistance in itself leading to systemic change, then that is not going to be helpful.

As I wrote in the post ‘Exhibiting Africans in a Human Zoo is not Art, it is Racist Voyeurism! Please sign this petition.’- The Human Zoo jTkqnNRAgtOItre-556x313-noPadexhibition ‘Exhibit B’ by white South African Brett Bailey is disgusting and dehumanising! As a black woman in the 21st century, my skin colour or body should not be on exhibition for the voyeuristic, closeted pleasure of racist privileged white people. My ancestors already suffered this humiliation, I should not have to watch it happen again under the pathetic excuse of “It is Art”.

If the people at the Barbican Centre cannot see why this is racist and dehumanising, they need to raise their social consciousness and awareness.

I am appalled and disgusted by this exhibition and I hope you are too. Please take action, sign the petition and if possible contact the people at the Barbican Centre to register your disgust at their hosting of such dehumanising piece of vile work in the name of Art.

Petition link- https://www.change.org/p/sir-nicholas-kenyon-withdraw-the-racist-exhibition-exhibit-b-the-human-zoo-from-showing-at-the-barbican-from-23rd-27th-september

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Related linkExhibiting Africans in a Human Zoo is not Art, it is Racist Voyeurism! Please sign this petition.



  1. Anne Fenwick says

    I don’t quite get why some people don’t see what’s so toxic and unhealthy about this but I thought it was worth drawing attention to somewhere that’s doing it right. It’s at Philadelphia’s museum of African American history and consists of life-size tv screens with actors playing the role of African-American Philadelphians. You can sort of interview them, e.g. you can push buttons to ask them questions. Some of them had known significant oppression some had known racism while being frankly quite privileged in many socio-economic ways. Regardless, I think the main point is that they all had voices, agencies, opinions, careers, family backgrounds etc, etc… They are definitely not ‘just’ victims and certainly not silent.

    I can’t help having a strong opinion on the benefits of this style of presentation because my daughter (aged 8) had recently been quite traumatised by her discover of Transatlantic slavery. Her history book was meant to be age-appropriate -- it didn’t dwell on horrors as such -- but if it had been truly effective, it wouldn’t have left her in that state. I can’t even begin to imagine what effect this bit of history, badly handled, does to black kids. And I don’t think adults of any race are immune. The Philadelphia exhibition provided an overnight cure for my daughter, so I’m all for it.

    I’m rather surprised it isn’t talked about more. since it’s hands down one of the best museum exhibitions I’ve seen on any subject (and I consider myself something of an expert), Even the museum doesn’t fall over itself to brag about it. This is the best reference I could find, a page about various things, but with a picture.

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