i drew a bunch of elves of color!!

This post reminds me of something that happened a few years back.

I once served as art director for a project where the illustration spec called for characters of a variety of races (in the real-world sense, not the Dungeons & Dragons sense - though the latter was involved as well).

We had one particular artist, tasked with drawing a series of elves, who didn’t quite seem to get what that meant. Their output was basically “white elf”, “another white elf”, “white elf with a tan”, “white elf looking a bit pale”, “yet another white elf”, etc.

When this was pointed out, they were like “oh, yeah, now I get it - I’ll totally fix that with my next piece”.

They proceeded to turn in a picture of a blue elf.

In the end, we had to provide specific quotas for specific levels of racial representation in order to get the point across. It all worked out in the end, but it’s stuck with me ever since that this artist examined the original spec, looked at our feedback, and came to the conclusion a blue elf was more plausible than a black one.

In conclusion: this is awesome.

Read that last paragraph as many times as you need to.

"Walking Dead actor Steven Yeun is writing and producing his own projects to create better opportunities for Asian actors. Steven Yeun started working on his acting career in 2005. He left behind a …"


Yeah, when I get invested in a storyline, I think one of the biggest turn offs would have to be when people make groups with backgrounds based on the experiences and oppression of black people (or other marginalized people)…and then you find out later that they believe that…


ubisoft and disney should make a game together called "diversity in animated models is too hard; lazy crying shitbaby edition"

(Source: nemutakara, via greenwickpress)





There were three sorts of Dornishmen, the first King Daeron had observed. There were the salty Dornishmen who lived along the coasts, the sandy Dornishmen of the deserts and long river valleys, and the stony Dornishmen who made their fastnesses in the passes and heights of the Red Mountains. The salty Domishmen had the most Rhoynish blood, the stony Dornishmen the least.

All three one sorts seemed well represented in Doran’s retinue. The salty Dornishmen were lithe and dark white as fuck, with smooth olive pale ass skin and long black hair racist turbans streaming in the wind. The sandy Dornishmen were even darker whiter, their faces burned brown white by the hot Dornish sun. They wound long bright scarfs around their helms to ward off sunstroke. The stony Dornishmen were biggest and fairest (finally some more white people up in here), sons of the Andals and the First Men, brownhaired or blond, with faces that freckled or burned in the sun instead of browning.

The lords wore silk and satin robes with jeweled belts and flowing sleeves. Their armor was heavily enameled and inlaid with burnished copper, shining silver, and soft red gold. They came astride red horses and golden ones and a few as pale as snow, all slim and swift, with long necks and narrow beautiful heads. The fabled sand steeds of Dorne were smaller than proper warhorses and could not bear such weight of armor, but it was said that they could run for a day and night and another day, and never tire.

#i took some liberty and corrected the shitty book version to make it into the vastly superior david&dan version #thank you for your time #who needs representation anyways since we all can see how spanish/italian inspired dorne obviously is

Thank you for this great gifset contrasted with the original text description of the Dornishmen. I think just about everyone was fairly disappointed in the casting here. It shouldn’t have to be pointed out that:

1. the books (ASOIAF) are not accurate to history in a general sense

2. the books are not accurate to history in the sense of dragons and magic

3. the show (Game of Thrones) is not accurate to the books in terms of people and casting as the characters are described, in many ways that do a disservice to people of color

4. this is inarguable whitewashing, and I do not generally use that term very often.

Once more, I’ll point out that Fantasy is not History. Once again, I’ll point out that whether or not Dorne is supposed to be ‘inspired by’ Medieval Spain or Italy, this is still inaccurate.

Medievalpoc posts tagged ‘Spain’

Medievalpoc posts tagged ‘Italy’

"But these are aristocrats/nobility and I think that means something about my ideas on race and history”

Medievalpoc tagged “ASOIAF”

Medievalpoc tagged “Game of Thrones”

And a final reminder: These books and the show based on it were created on purpose by human beings for an audience-both of whom are modern people and part of American culture, right here, right now. The choices made, the casting, the storylines and plot points, all are conscious decisions made by people. Game of Thrones isn’t history, it is a fantasy show.

P.S. I personally am a fan of the show and the books, I have seen every episode and read every book, including some of the short fiction (so no worries about spoiling me).  I don’t feel particularly conflicted in being critical of it, or analyzing it.

can someone tell me why turbans are racist? isnt that a thing that people who live in very dry and hot climates wear? (and sometimes for religious reasons) isnt dorne really hot and dry? i mean, pretty much all of them should be way darker in skin tone but i dont know why turbans are racist… if there is a reason hmu with that knowledge. 

Since you apparently haven’t considered taking someone who is harmed by tropes like these at their word that they ARE, in fact, harmed by it, I’ll go ahead and give you a source you might actually accept. This is on the condition that maybe you consider who you think gets to “decide” what is and is not racism, and who you believe is harmed by depictions like this in popular fantasy media.

A turban is often used as a lazy way to visually “Other” a character in American popular culture. This trope has a long history of use in Western cultures to mark someone as “foreign” in a very general sort of way. In fantasy media, it’s often used as a symbol of “generic Other”, along with “generic foreign accent” and other vaguely referential markers, while at the same time ducking accountability by being nonspecific.


From Geographies of Developing Areas: The Global South in a Changing World  By Glyn Williams, Paula Meth, Katie Willis. page 28.

Further Reading and Perspectives:

(Source: stannisbaratheon)

filmfixed said: Just make sure you make a clear distinction between the Roman Empire and Roman Kingdom or Roman Republic. People under Roman hegemony from foundation to around 3rd Century BC would have been almost (99%) exclusively Italian. Also for that time period only Romans had citizenship, Italian allies, conquered territories within Italy did not have citizenship for another 200 years. After the second Punic War thus acquisition of land and on into Empire, Rome would become more and more multicultural.




Uh oh, I’m not making a clear distinction. Someone call the History Police.

WHY does everyone think that the when you start a new “period” in History OR Art History in Europe, you’re automatically reset to 100% White People!

Periodization is not a racial reset button.

As if the whole part where I discuss the racial/ethnic makeup of the pre-existing Classical Greek—>Hellenistic era just doesn’t even exist. woohoo.

And like, the people who send messages to tell me that “3rd Century Roman York has nothing to do with Medieval!!!!”

Because apparently between the 3rd and 5th centuries, someone hit the racial reset button in England. Good to know.

If you squint, you could read their words to mean that all POC who were living in the Roman Kingdom & Republic prior to 3rd Century BCE had been there so long that they did indeed consider themselves “exclusively Italian.”  But that’s probably giving them too much benefit of the doubt.

Well, people of color in Europe have been cast by modern historians as perpetual foreigners no matter HOW far back you go. :|

I actually addressed THAT about 7 months ago


Everyone is quite welcome to try and guess the race of those…i believe…human figures. Although according to new discoveries, the [European]* gene for light skin in our species only evolved about 7,000 years ago, so we can probably assume they were not white.



I like it when medievalpoc posts pictures from pre-19th century Sweden. It actually kind of blows my mind, because Finland was part of Sweden and that means that there were Black people here, in my history. Because there was no Finland as separated country, only Sweden…

humbleegomania said: Hi there! I know you're more focused on earlier history, but I'm a screenwriter with a story taking place in the 1890s about an artist. I never gave him a physical description so any actor could play it, but now I want to pitch it with Idris Elba in mind. I was wondering what you know about poc artists in France around that period? Or where I should go to find info? I know about Alexandre Dumas, but he was a writer, not a painter (which is my focus). Thank you so much!


Well, let’s see. If you want images of people of color from that period in Europe, check out the 1800s Week tag.

I will give you information, but all of these stories are contingent on a Black actor (or actress) playing the role of the artist. These stories are not applicable for “any race” to play.

A great resource on Black life and culture during 1800s Paris, try Discover Paris! Entrée to Black Paris. There’s virtual tours, museum tours, a searchable blog, and much, much more.

To get an idea on just how many people of African descent, including African-Americans, would have been in, let’s say, Paris, at the time, there are records that indicate about 50,000 Free People of Color and Creole folks emigrated to that city after the Louisiana Purchase. Which of course was in addition to the Black people who were already there. And included American expat artists of  color. Like the legendary Henry Ossowa Tanner, who moved to Paris in 1891.


(portrait by Thomas Eakins)

An amazing woman of color and artist living in Europe, Edmonia Lewis, whose story is shocking, breathtaking, and you have literally never seen or heard anything like it. A woman of Ojibwe, Haitian, and African-American heritage, she was accused of poisoning her female classmates with an aphrodisiac, a LOT of bad stuff happened, then some good stuff, then some WEIRD stuff, and somehow she ended up rich, single, and working in Rome until her death, sometime around 1911.


I promise you, there are SO MANY AMAZING STORIES, both individual and cultural, around this topic.

Also, since Idris Elba is British, I’ll include this interactive map of important Black Londoners of note from the Victorian era, because it’s AWEsome and *does* include important folks who also had been in Paris, like the amazing Miss LaLa, who was painted by Edgar Degas in 1879.


Here are a few more starting points, resources, and references:

An Investigation of Late 19th and Early 20th Century Parisian Visual Culture from the Perspective of the Black Artist

Black Exhibits Show that artistry Can Also Overcome

Tanner and the Lure of Paris Opens at the BMA

Edward Mitchell Bannister, Landscape Artist

Ira Aldridge, Shakespearean Actor (Londoner, also performed in many French venues)

A last word of caution: all of these stories are absolutely contingent on the fact that these artists were all Black. Casting a white actor or actress in roles playing any of these real historic persons would be an intentional act of reprehensible erasure. Their stories are so interesting, inspirational, and amazing BECAUSE they were marginalized people creating beauty in the face of unspeakable oppression.

Do not use these stories for inspiration unless you intend to modify the role to *only* a Black actor or actress.



Librarian Allie Jane Bruce took a group of sixth graders to Barnes & Noble to examine whitewashing on book covers, and this is what they had to say:

  • “It was sickening to look at all the stereotypes, the assumptions.”
  • “I think I was on the girls’ side of the bookshelf, but even so, that just shows that Barnes & Noble separates their books by gender.”
  • “I know that kids’ minds aren’t developed enough to understand these issues, but as they grow up, I hope they realize how serious this issue really is. People have the right to like any color they want and be anything they want to be.”
  • “Society is almost afraid of putting a dark-skinned or Asian character on the cover of a book. I feel like these are minor forms of segregation.”
  • “I didn’t see a book with a biracial main character … it is not fair in any way.”
  • “In the chapter book section, I saw that most of the books that had non-Caucasian characters didn’t have that character on the cover.
  • “On the covers, I saw thin, pretty girls. I didn’t see any overweight girls or anyone with acne. I think that these covers shape an idea of perfect in a girl’s mind, and make them want to be like that, even though everyone was born perfect.”
I wish this unit were taught to every sixth grade class in the country. Full article here.

This is an AMAZING read, and I second that wish!






Peter Lely

Portrait of Elizabeth Murray

England (c. 1650)

Oil on canvas, 124 x 119 cm

[x] [x] [x] [x]

I think I have seen pictures of this before, in high school maybe, but I don’t remember there being a second person before. I seem to remember this image being cropped differently too, which is very disturbing because now that I see the entire painting, the way I remember it being cropped was very clearly and deliberately intended to remove the person holding the tray of flowers.

Since we’re throwing haymakers at the kyriarchy today, I think this is something that we should really be talking about too, because it happens


Level 1: People of Color from Medieval, Renaissance, and other Early Modern European works were often literally painted over in later decades or centuries.

For example: In this painting, Giulia de’Medici (the child) was painted over in the 19th century:


Level 2: It was very fashionable in a lot of 17th and 18th century paintings to have a Black servant featured in portraits of very important historical figures from European History.

Honestly? They’re practically ubiquitous. A lot of the very famous paintings you’ve seen of European and American historical figures have a Black servant in them that have been cropped out or painted over.

Those silly stock photos from your American History Professor’s Powerpoint?

Your Professor’s PowerPoint for “George Washington”:



The actual painting:



Your professor’s Powerpoint on Jean Chardin:


The actual painting:


PowerPoint on Maria Henriette Stuart (with some commentary about the Habsburg jaw):


Actual Painting:


But, because of whitewashed history curricula, teachers and professors continue to use the cropped images because they don’t want their lecture to get “derailed” by a discussion about race.

These images are also more commonly seen on stock photo sites, including ones for academic use.

I honestly can’t find anyone really writing about this, or even any analysis on how often the cropped photos are used.

The reason they are so easy to crop out is because of the the artistic conventions which reflect the power hierarchy:

Oil paintings of aristocratic families from this period make the point clearly. Artists routinely positioned black people on the edges or at the rear of their canvasses, from where they gaze wonderingly at their masters and mistresses. In order to reveal a ‘hierarchy of power relationships’, they were often placed next to dogs and other domestic animals, with whom they shared, according to the art critic and novelist David Dabydeen, ‘more or less the same status’. Their humanity effaced, they exist in these pictures as solitary mutes, aesthetic foils to their owners’ economic fortunes.

This is drastically oversimplified, but at least it addresses it directly.

If anyone knows more on any studies or statistical evidence on this tendency, feel free to add it.

As a literary and history student i saw some of these cropped versions in my study books before, and was legitimately oblivious to this,

i am glad to have this information now…

I process a LOT of textbooks during the course of my “day job” (so to speak), and I know I’ve seen a few really unfortunate cropped images.

This post is more specifically addressing educators who either willingly OR unwittingly use modified images in class materials like handouts, PowerPoints, transparencies (YES, they still use them in some places!!!!) and photocopies.

But yes, many textbooks, especially non-ART textbooks, tend to use cropped or edited images without mention that they ARE cropped or edited. That is how we end up so familiar with the faces of white historical figures in “old timey” looking paintings, but seeing a person of color in the same artistic style that is immediately recognizable to a student will strike them as odd or anachronistic.

Even historical figures of color are presented in the same way, and the same context, over and over.

For example, You’ve probably ALL seen this image of Phillis Wheatley by Scipio Moorhead:


But have you seen THIS one?


laralein1507 said: So, as I actually signed up to tumblr to ask this, I really hope for an answer. First of all, I like your idea to research POC in European Art history. What I would like to know anyhow is if you are actually an art historian? This would be interesting to know, as I am sure I am not the only one to wonder where you study art history (or history of any kind) and never ever learn that there were indeed POC in pre-Enlightenment Europe? Best wishes and thank you for your answer in advance!



Yes to all of the above. Texas is just a ball of ignorance and hate all around, in every subject. They actually rejected common core curricula because it included information on the moon landing because you know that’s a huge fake and not a part of history particularly Texas history. Texas needs to be stopped. History had people of color, homosexuals, and even women in it, but you won’t find that in most US classrooms.

I think people do not understand that education in America, and control over it, is a political war happening right now.

Texas controls what we learn in classroom to a large degree, and conservative groups have the reins of educations in an extremely tight fist:

As a market, the state was so big and influential that national publishers tended to gear their books toward whatever it wanted. Back in 1994, the board requested four hundred revisions in five health textbooks it was considering. The publisher Holt, Rinehart and Winston was the target for the most changes, including the deletion of toll-free numbers for gay and lesbian groups and teenage suicide prevention groups. Holt announced that it would pull its book out of the Texas market rather than comply. (A decade later Holt was back with a new book that eliminated the gay people.)


In 2009, when the science curriculum was once again up for review, conservatives wanted to require that it cover the “strengths and weaknesses” of the theory of evolution.


n 2010, the board launched itself into the equally contentious sea of the social studies curriculum, and the teacher-dominated team tasked with writing the standards was advised by a panel of “experts,” one of whom was a member of the Minutemen militia. Another had argued that only white people were responsible for advancing civil rights for minorities in America, since “only majorities can expand political rights in America’s constitutional society.”


When it came to the Middle Ages, the board appeared to be down on any mention of the Crusades, an enterprise that tends to reflect badly on the Christian side of Christian–Islamic conflict.

Even according to CONSERVATIVE historian/authors Sheldon and Jeremy Stern:


I receive a lot of messages that come off as not-so-veiled inquiries into what my “qualifications” are, i.e., whether or not I am “actually an art historian”, as you put it.

I’m a decorated scholar and I work in education, which I’ve talked about here many times before. (I like to use the word “decorated” because I did not previously realize that there are awards that have literal medals attached that one might literally wear around one’s neck, until it actually happened.)

I do not have the power to dictate policy, but I have reason to meticulously review curricula and am extremely familiar with the content chosen by professors for those curricula. Part of my job includes having to read a great deal of the books, articles, handout materials, syllabi, slides, videos, powerpoints, et cetera, that are chosen for all manner of classes.

If you think that total omission of text, images, or other materials dealing with people of color in just about any history class is some sort of exceptional occurrence, you’re flat out mistaken. If these materials are included at all, mockery and misinformation is common from the professors including that material.

I live in a country where, as I’ve said repeatedly, there is a great deal of financial and political pressure to legislate people of color out of history entirely. I’m not inventing some kind of conspiracy, I’m making commentary about laws that are being made as we speak. In 2010, History curricula in the US were drastically revised and legislated; Texas, where the textbooks basically “come from”, put a frighteningly conservative stamp on the educations standards, which will stay in place until 2020.

I see those books every day, and the cropping, the omission, the “sunny side of slavery"…all these things are included. This has happened! According to one of these groups heading the campaigns for revision:

The group called for textbook selection criteria to include: "No portrayal of minority experience in the history which actually occurred shall obscure the experience or contributions of the Founding Fathers, or the majority of citizens, including those who reached positions of leadership."

This is literally “We don’t care what actually happened, the important thing is that white leadership is not criticized.” That is literally what this says. That is the state of education right now, as I am speaking to you.

People doing what I’m doing better hope they live in a State where what I’m teaching here is still legal. In answer to your question, “where can you study art and never learn about people of color in Europe?” the answer is : The United States.

The document distorts or suppresses less triumphal or more nuanced aspects of our past that the Board found politically unacceptable (slavery and segregation are all but ignored, while religious influences are grossly exaggerated). The resulting fusion is a confusing, unteachable hodgepodge.

Welcome to America.


Editors have told me that their sales departments say black covers don’t sell. Sales reps have told me that many of their accounts won’t take books with black covers. Booksellers have told me that they can’t give away YAs with black covers. Authors have told me that their books with black covers are frequently not shelved in the same part of the library as other YA—they’re exiled to the Urban Fiction section—and many bookshops simply don’t stock them at all.

How welcome is a black teen going to feel in the YA section when all the covers are white? Why would she pick up Liar when it has a cover that so explicitly excludes her?”

Ain’t That a Shame, [emphasis added]

(Source: thatcupofjo, via racebending)