During our visit to JW Marriott Phu Quoc Resort, There’s has been several remakes disturbed by some of the artwork we saw in the khách sạn. One piece in particular struck us as appallingly racist. This artwork depicted a visibly angry, strong, black man with his hands shackled in front of him and a pair of women’s panties at his feet ( image attached ). The painting was displayed in the “ Art Department ”, but was visible from the main public walkway in front of all the buildings. We could not believe our eyes when we first walked by this piece and later stopped to get a closer look-sure that there must be some explanation. This piece immediately reminded me of images I have seen in history books on race relations in the United States. The portrayal of a scary black man in rage-withbulging eyes and muscles-was used strategically to create fear of black men in the 19 th and 20 th century in the United States. The panties at the man’s feet symbolize the rape of a ( whte ) woman and / or are intended to emasculate the man. Thes e are not just my personal interpretations of the piece, images like it have been used very deliberately to justify enslavement, lynchings, and inhumane treatment. During the dark days of slavery in the United States until the civil rights era, images of black bodies as inherently aggressive, hypersexual and a threat to white womanhood were used to rationalize the control of African American’s bodies and lives. Perhaps someone who was not raised in the United States would not have the same reading of the piece, but I still contend that even without knowledge of this historical background, it is impossible to look at the piece without coming away with a negative image of men of color. I do not know why it was chosen as a work of fine art, especially in Vietnam ? In the art department it is accompanied by still lives of fruit, portraits of upper-class white people dining, and abstract paintings. It is held up as a beautiful piece of art without any context. I wonder, where did the painting come from ? Who decided to put it up ? What was the reaction the artist or curator hoped to inspire ? When you are on a short lived and expensive vacation the last thing you want to do is fret about an art piece and then complain about it to the manager. I believe this is especially true for people of color who might be quite offended by the painting, but probably just want a break from the racism they often face in their daily lives. We felt we had a responsibility to say something so that this piece does not perpetuate racism. I am not accusing anyone as being intentionally racist, but ignorance is not an excuse, especially for an American owned khách sạn chain. If this painting was spotted in a khách sạn in the United States, I can assure you there would be protests in front of the doors the next day and a lot of bad publicity for the Marriott. While these stereotypes may be historically based, they continue to rationalize and justify ongoing discrimination of people of color. This painting was the most appalling to us, but it was not the only image that caused us discomfort and some confusion. For example, in the “ anthropology department ” where we were staying, on the second-floor landing there were many photos of very exotic looking indigenous people accompanied by images of brains. This set of images, recollects the eugenics movement, where people of color were portrayed as inferior and less intelligent based on pseudo-scientific brain measurements. This pseudo-science was also used as a justification for racism and slavery. This is just one example, but I would recommend that a historical race scholar or critical race scholar do a full inventory of the resort to ensure that there are no other art pieces or other aspects of the resort that might be racist or offensive to different groups. Granted this will not be easy in a resort designed on the premise of an elite colonial boarding school ! We appreciate you reading this and taking our concerns seriously. We do not wish to profit in any way from bringing this issue to your attention and only hope that racism will be the last thing a guest in your resort has to think about on their vacation .
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