America is known as a melting pot; its citizenry is comprised of a populous with various backgrounds. This melting pot is placed over the flame of equality with the hope that the resulting meal can sustain the nation. In reality, America is forever evolving in accepting the groups who have and continue to make it great. One way to acknowledge the contributions of all Americans is by creating museums celebrating its multicultural makeup. The Smithsonian has museums dedicated to Native Americans, African Americans, and there is also a National Holocaust Museum.
According to Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah, those institutions are redundant, and the US does not need “separate but equal museums.” With that sentiment,
The issue with Lee’s stance is many museums omit the contributions of minority groups. These omissions are so vast that in 1994 a special task force found that the Smithsonian displayed a pattern of excluding and ignoring the presence and contributions of Latino Americans in both its workforce and exhibition halls. The resulting 60-page report entitled, “Willful Neglect: The Smithsonian Institution and U.S. Latinos,” is the basis of The National Museum of the American Latino bill. Despite these findings, Lee still blocked the legislation.
Opposition for Lee’s blocking of the bill was swift. Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine was disheartened, stating, “It seems wrong that one senator can block consideration of a bill that would have overwhelming support by a majority of this body.” This was not just conjecture on Collins part because both the House Of Representatives and the rules committee approved the legislation on voice votes garnering bipartisan support. Democratic Senator Bob Mendez, a longtime advocate of a Latino museum, called Lee’s stance “pretty outrageous” that “One Republican colleague from Utah stands in the way of the hopes and dreams and aspirations of seeing Americans of Latino descent having their dreams fulfilled and being recognized.”
The proposed American Women’s History Museum is also a casualty. Without the contributions of women to American society, this country would not have progressed this far. From the chain breaking of Harriet Tubman to the landmark legal decisions of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, women deserve to be honored. The disbelief felt by many is verbalized by Collins, “Surely in a year where we’re celebrating the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage, this is the time, this is the moment to finally pass the legislation…to establish an American Women’s History Museum.”
Lee’s stance is one of the reasons this melting pot has boiled over so violently in the summer of 2020. Lee is unable to see what is needed for the greater good because his own privilege blinds him. Though the museum legislation will not get a vote because of Lee, the struggle for equality continues, and as Collins defiantly stated, “We will not give up the fight!”