Life On The B Side

Taking all that life throws at us one moment at a time

NMAAHC Review December 1, 2016

Thanksgiving weekend Saturday – This was the one day that we had plans.  With tickets in hand, we headed into Washington DC.  We got tickets for the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture months ago.  They are in high demand.  It did not disappoint.

Joining us on our day trip were 2 of our faves.  Aunty Juddles (who I talk about a lot because we just love her so damn much) and Aunty Chups, who we also love a lot.


I don’t even know what to say about it.  It’s a beautiful building from the outside.  Once inside you take an elevator down several flights.  As you go deeper, the years displayed on the walls, go backward until the elevator stops and you land in 1400 – The year the first set of slaves came to America.  You then walk your way back up, through a large spiral, which takes you back to modern times.  It’s quite an experience and it is a really well done museum.  If there is blood pumping through your veins you will feel something.  Maybe sad, maybe angry, maybe hurt, maybe reverent.  You will also feel awe and pride and joy.  You will smile and you will reminisce.  You might even sing and dance.  I’m not kidding.  I sang and danced.  You will definitely learn something – And as you discuss your own life experiences with your children or your friends or even the museum workers, you will also teach something.

At one point (while in the civil rights era), I turned around and found myself face to face with a mannequin wearing an actual Ku Klux Klan uniform.  I audibly gasped and jumped.  It was very jarring.


Hot on the heels of my face to face meeting with a Ku Klux Klan outfit, and my stomach still feeling uneasy, I saw Jay making shadow puppets on a wall screen that was showing footage of civil rights marches.  It was hilarious in a twisted way, if you can appreciate that kind of humour; which I can.  There people were, taking in all this very serious material – And there Jay was, fingers contorted, saying “Look Mom, what is this?”

A rabbit, it was a rabbit.

Later on, I was amazed and excited to see that they had included more than a couple references to Caribbean contributions to American culture.  Jamaican music, food and “higglers” were featured.


We had been in the museum for 4 and a half hours.  It wasn’t enough time.  But we were all starving and not willing to stand on the line for the only cafe they have.


If there is one bad thing to say about the museum it would be about the food.  Currently, if you leave you cannot re-enter and there is only one cafe and no vending machines.  They don’t even have snacks in the gift shop.  I am sure that as time goes on, the situation won’t be as bad but for now, the one cafe cannot handle the crowd.  I recommend going with a full stomach and if you can, pack snacks for your little ones in your bag.  An old granola bar and a squashed nutri-grain bar saved the lives of my 2.


Following the museum, we went to take a close look at the Washington Monument.  It was literally next door after all.  From the monument you are in direct eye shot of the Lincoln Memorial and the pool.  Both well worth visiting but we were tired and it was getting late so we’ll have to go back.  The kids are very keen on seeing the rest of what Washington DC has to offer.  (The White House and all that).


On our walk back to the car, we strolled through a park and took a minute to check out the ice-skaters.  Now, both the kids want to try ice-skating.  We tried it once with them a couple of years ago and Ace loved it, but Jay was not a fan.  Now he wants to try again.  Who am I to say no?  (Truth = I’m excited to take them)


I don’t know if we will go ice-skating in DC but we certainly will be back to check out the things we didn’t get around to.  Maybe we’ll go in the Spring when the Cherry Blossoms are in full effect.




*Ed Note:  In one section, there are a few images that may be a heavy pill for children younger than 13-ish to swallow.  (Lynchings etc)  The museum and its staff being fully cognizant of this, took steps to protect our little ones. Those areas/images are circled/marked in red so that parents have a heads up and can steer youngsters away.   It wasn’t an issue for us at all.

*Ed Other Note:  There are interactive things that the kids loved and a train to explore so I do think it’s appropriate for children to go to this museum.

*Ed Last Note:  Some of the pictures are dark because flash photography is prohibited inside the museum.



Before anything gets started, take a selfie with the bestie!



Jay sort of fell in love with this car and decided that he needed to own one.



In the music area … This is just a small fraction of the gold album wall.



Because … I’m black and I’m a feminist.



My people at the indoor waterfall.  It’s a lot more impressive in person.



Jamaican higgler on display.



With the kids while they eat over-priced and not yummy tasting hot dogs and pizza from food trucks outside the museum because they were “starving to death”.



Ace with the museum behind him.



Up close with the Washington Monument.



Checking out the skaters.



Lil ol me, just for fun.  There are so many pretty buildings and landscaping in our nations capital.


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