filmfixed asked: 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.
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. :|
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.
humbleegomania asked: 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.
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:
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.
laralein1507 asked: 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.
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.
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.
The author of the award-winning play Clybourne Park has refused permission to a Berlin theatre company to perform the play after learning that a lead character would appear blacked up.
Managers at the Deutsches Theatre said a female African-American character in the play was being performed by a white actress and producers would “experiment with make-up”.
In a letter to the Dramatists Guild, US playwright Bruce Norris said he was taking a “zero tolerance position” on what he termed an “asinine tradition”.
“Normally I don’t meddle in the cultural politics of other countries,” wrote Norris “but when my work and the work of my colleagues — other playwrights — is misrepresented, I do. A zero-tolerance position is the only position to take.”"
I truly truly truly want more PoCs to get acting roles in this franchise. But now that Katniss is White, Haymitch is White, and Gale is White, any other role given to a PoC would be tokenism for Lionsgate executives to cover their asses with.
The racist casting of “The Hunger Games” has put the casting of “Catching Fire” in a catch-22. This franchise does not need more White people, thank you. The previous film did a bang-up job of that. But now that Our Heroes are White, any role given to a PoC will be destroyed by the film’s new racial power structure (one hugely different from that of the books).
Racial inclusivity does not mean adding a token Black guy. Positive media representation of your race is more than just about dropping PoC actors in your movie left and right. I wish I could wave a magic wand and fix all of this, but the terrible casting choices of the first film made everything a whoooooole lot more complicated. And frankly, I don’t even know what the solution is."
This was what really got me. From what fans of the book, I’d learned that Katniss had dark skin, and yet she was cast as white, and I barely heard a peep out of anyone, which was surprising considering the huge amount of rage I heard over the whitewashing of Avatar: The Last Airbender.
If Hollywood isn’t killing off POCs in movies, it’s making sure they don’t get leading roles.