Houston Holocaust Museum confronts hate speech with newest exhibition ‘Speaking Up! Confronting Hate Speech’

Speak Up! The exhibition runs through May 1

HOUSTON – The Holocaust Museum Houston has curated its newest exhibition: Speaking Up! Confronting Hate Speech.

The carefully curated experience aims to help visitors see and identify hate speech, and give them the tools to confront and fight it.

“It’s fascinating from the perspective of how dangerous hate speech is. Those lessons of the Holocaust are very clear from the perspective of how hatred and how hate speech was a major mechanism for the Nazis to isolate and dehumanize the Jews during the war. It was a tactic that they utilized. Well, that tactic, unfortunately, has been utilized in many situations and genocides throughout the world where the power of hate speech generated violent acts towards a particular group of people.” Dr. Kelly Zuniga, Holocaust Museum Houston CEO, said.

The exhibition was inspired by two HMH board members, Dr. Peter Chang and Nancy Li-Tarim, who identified the need for the exhibit after the rise in hate crimes against the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. According to Pew Research, 45% of Asian Americans reported experiencing some kind of hate speech or violence in 2020.

HMH curated the exhibition, which includes different sections referencing dark chapters in world history, including the use of radios to spur violence and genocide in Rwanda, the story of Houstonian George Floyd, the use of posters and propaganda to help Nazis carry out the atrocities of the Holocaust and more.

“What this exhibition does is it fills in that history so that you can identify what is happening, but it also gives you those skill sets to stop it,” Zuniga said.

The outside perimeter of the four-wall exhibit is meant to empower visitors.

“What do you do when you see hate speech? How do you act? How do you respond? What are the legal ramifications and your legal rights to fight hate speech?” Zuniga said.

Eighty percent of the exhibition was sponsored by members of the AAPI community. The exhibition is meant to show support for several communities facing discrimination.

“I think it’s quite important from the perspective that we are not part of the AAPI community, and so, by representing this exhibition to support their efforts to right hates speech in their community is, really, really important,” Zuniga said.

The exhibition runs through May 1, 2022. Visitors can see the exhibition in English and in Spanish.