I am not in the business of telling Black people how to feel about any of my posts on constructions of Blackness. Part of the problem inherent in my writing this blog is that because I am not Black, my writing might be taken over the writing of Black people on the same topic, because of the mistaken idea that writing about things that don’t affect me makes me more “objective”.
Moreover, there’s nothing in that post that I disagree with, other than a slight misunderstanding over my primary point.
To address questions about my sources and statements, 1. I didn’t say Romans did not have a construction of Blackness. I felt like that was clear from what I said, but maybe I could have been more clear. The point of my post was that skin color was not conflated with slavery.
2. I used sources that “conflict” because there is no cut-and-dried conclusion on whether the Greeks’ ethnocentrism was a form of proto-racism, especially in regard to anti-Blackness. As blackinasia states, the debate over translation rages on, much less debate over the connotion of those translations. Which leads to
3. I use Snowden as a source to demonstrate the documentation of contemporaneous racism in the translations of primary sources from the 1940s. In other words, I use him because he is one of the only ones to have said: the historians of my time are mistranslating documents from the Ancient World to reflect their OWN biases, not those of the original documents they are translating. That’s doesn’t mean that Snowden was exempt from his own racist assumptions or essentializing what he and others considered Black features or characteristics, and the language he uses is offensive because it is outdated.
^That’s important because it shows us how we ended up with the ideas we have about the ancient world and race now. There isn’t some kind of time-vacuum between 300 B.C.E. and 2014 C.E.; each successive generation or era added a “layer” of interpretation, and we are building on those layers. NONE of those layers are objective, and neither is what we write about it now.
That is why I’m quoting sources that are as primary as possible, touch on the Renaissance, go to the Enlightenment, then the 1800s, then 1916, then the 1940s, then modern academic sources, then modern media.
I think the only place of actual disagreement would be that “Aethiops” translates to “burnt-face”. That was actually exactly what I was saying when I cited Snowden, that these translators were inserting their own prejudice into the texts!!!
That translation, if you go to the Wikipedia page, directly cites Henry George Liddel, who wrote A Greek-English Lexicon. This guy was born in 1811. That translation is from the 1840s, which is almost 300 years out of date.
So, yeah, if you believe Henry George Liddel, and “middle-complected” Greeks were going around calling dark-skinned people from North Africa and India “Burnt-face”, there is definitely a case to be made for color prejudice among Ancient Greeks, although not, as has been agreed upon, an association with slavery.
I’m not trying to make a definitive conclusion on whether one can generalize Greek ethnocentrism as proto-racism or not, which is why I presented multiple dissenting opinions on that.
I’m trying to get people to REALIZE WE’RE USING 300 YEAR OLD TRANSLATIONS AND PRETENDING THEY’RE OBJECTIVE.
More transparency in academic research, distinguished readers. :)