If you’re a person of color, by now you’ve probably gotten used to the idea that there isn’t a place for someone like you in western storytelling. The business gets stickier when you get to stories about regular people in Europe, or times like the Middle Ages. You may have walked around in a museum, only to see white bodies and white faces reflected in every piece. Though there are still exceptions to the rule, you may have completely written off high fantasy or historical fiction as genres where you can see characters who reflect you, because the entire genre stems from this historical source material filled with whiteness.
Well, we have been lied to.
People of color have been knights, saints, ladies, lords, and everything in between. American education, meet People of Color in European Art History.
Those who control our knowledge of history also control our present, and putting resources and knowledge back into the hands of those most affected by the misinformation and misrepresentation codified into the U.S. education system is a large part of the purpose in curating this blog.
People of Color in European Art History’s mission statement is to reveal and discuss a long unacknowledged history. Its mission statement pulls a quote from William Loren Katz, a historian, and author of several books on African American history.
Those who assume that a people have no history worth mentioning are likely to believe they have no humanity worth defending. -Black Indians: A Hidden Heritage, William Loren Katz. (p. 10)
Most people have the misconception that people of color did not exist in Europe before the Enlightenment, and the blog exists to provide a counter-narrative to that misconception. Besides showing you incredible art that you may have not seen before, and giving you background information and historical context that trumps any textbook, the author also discusses the longstanding practice of cropping people of color out of of art, and erasing them from history in the first place, and creating further misrepresentation. The blog asks us to examine how we tell our stories and portray people. Who do we think of as important, and who do we ignore?
A tertiary effect of showcasing these works is to provide a vehicle for correcting assumptions that works of fantasy based in “re-imagined” worlds of Medieval or Renaissance Europe that omit the contributions and presence of People of Color are made with “historical accuracy” in mind. In fact, the opposite is often the case.
The author posts high quality images, promotes interesting discussion, and cleverly organizes each piece on a timeline that can be found on the sidebar. You can read more of this blog here.