I think the big mistake in schools is trying to teach children anything, and by using fear as the basic motivation. Fear of getting failing grades, fear of not staying with your class, etc. Interest can produce learning on a scale compared to fear as a nuclear explosion to a firecracker.
So, uh, this might not be very relevant but I’m submitting it anyways.
I just wanted to say I went to Stockholm a few weeks back, and the Swedish Historical Museum there reminded me of your blog.
There were quite a few bits devoted to the fact that history is always written with some kind of agenda (the first thing you see in the viking section is that the concept of vikings was used to promote everything from voting rights to nazism), how our current society impacts our views on history (one sign even questions gender definitions) and that even our ‘objective’ research is actually pretty subjective sometimes. There was also a small section on disabilities during the “viking age” which I found pretty cool (mostly amputees and stuff, but with actual skeletons to prove they existed, which is far more than what you get in most museums).
The medieval section of the museum had some bits that focused on subjectivity as well, but I didn’t get to spend quite as much time in there so I can’t give an in-depth review or anything.
What I can say is that whoever arranged this museum was obviously trying to make sure the visitors think for themselves and have a critical approach to what people tell them. At times they seemed to think the questions were more important than the answers. Seems like some historians do know what’s up, and that makes me happy.
I am apparently only allowed to upload one pic but I have more should anyone be interested :)
I LOVE this!!!
I would honestly be overjoyed to publish your other submissions, and I can organize it into a photoset if you want to submit multiple times.
It’s a terrible thing, I think, in life to wait until you’re ready. I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything. There is almost no such thing as ready. There is only now. And you may as well do it now.
You mentioned in response to a post about white people needing to believe that Europe was racially homogeneous, that “the kind of imagined total isolation, feeds into the idea that there are ‘racial achievements’”.
Racial achievements seem to be one way white supremacy profits from this historical amnesia, and is able to set up a racialized society based on this premise.
What are other ways that white supremacy profits from believing there weren’t POCs in Medieval Europe?
[medievalpoc responds]: Readers? What are your thoughts?
It removes the accomplishments and contributions of Black people and especially Black Women to Modern European society and the monarchy and “unsullies” the hands and sexual habits of their ancestors. It removes the Black mother’s and leaves in their places “tragic dark…
If supremacists could prove that POC were not present in Medieval Europe, their justification for segregation and fear of "race mixing” might be substantiated. After all, their *supposedly* pureblooded white ancestors achieved all of this without mixing.
Maybe because it supports the notion that there was a “golden”, “pure” age in the not-so-recent past and the “pollution” of immigration is a modern phenomenon? Rather than accept that very many europeans are actually born of century upon century of
century upon century of population movement and population mixing and cultural interaction. Much like in apartheid-era SA, where the reality of many “whites” being of mixed racial background had to be denied at all cost?…
There’s the representation issue, which is an indirect and circular thing, but still. If people genuinely believe that POCs were nothing but slaves around that time, therefore stories that seek to go against this are often harder to sell.
Maybe emphasizing the idea that segregation is ‘normal’ and trying to get people to believe that cultures interacting is this historically recent thing?
This ties into “racial achievements” but I think that it’s also to hide up “racial failings” that happened in Europe primarily to white people, such as the Black Plague and needing to be taught by non-whites that simple bathing would cut down a lot of their problems.
After all, if there are no non-whites in Europe, then that means “white people figured out their own problems”.
My immediate thought is that thinking medieval Europe to have been pure white continues and enforces that white is the norm. Movies (Brave, Frozen, Tangled, Ivanhoe, Excalibur, First Knight and so on) and TV shows (Game of Thrones*, Sword of Truth? I don’t watch much TV) being very white continues to keep coloured people as the ‘other’, which further feeds into systematic racism and discrimination. They’re obviously not the only reason why there is racism and discrimination, but it’d be foolish to think that lack of representation didn’t play a part in it.
*PoC are basically barbarians in GoT, afaik — I dropped the show after the horse people wedding, but you know… prove me wrong?
It’s not so much a racial supremacist question, but a question of rich, white, heterosexual (at least in public) men profiting from staying rich and powerful. As soon as someone questions them staying in power, they will use anything and everything to stop it. And since this rarely comes from other white men, but mostly from women, POC, LGBTQ and anyone else on the margins, perpetuating stereotypes of the ‘Other (which in no small part relies on arts, whether medieval or not) is the surefire way to raise generations of undereducated bigots who will vote for them or in other ways show their support for who they perceive is ‘their’ man, the only one who looks after their interests.
A historical tradition lends authenticity and legitimacy to ideas. So if there was a perceived historical tradition of Medieval Europe being all white all the time, that lends legitimacy to modern ideas of colonialism/imperialism/racism.
If supremacists could prove that POC were not present in Medieval Europe, their justification for segregation and fear of “race mixing” might be substantiated. After all, their *supposedly* pureblooded white ancestors achieved all of this without mixing.
For one thing, it provides a handy excuse for the racism of post-Medieval theology and Colonialist structures. “Oh, those poor Europeans, they’d never seen a dark skinned person, it’s not really their fault they treated [dark skinned persons with valuable resources and land] like animals!”
Wow, good question. Thinking about it, I would bet that there are dozens of reasons, but I think a big one is that modern white people like to think of themselves as being more enlightened on issues of race than their ancestors.
So basically, you have to start with the assumption that all Western societies belong to white people. POC who exist in those societies, regardless of how long they’ve been there, whether or not they speak the language, whether they are culturally assimilated or not or whatever — they are allowed to be members (or guests, really) by white people, who are the legitimate owners of that society. Our ancestors were racist, so they only allowed POC guests to exist as slaves. But today, we are very enlightened and diverse and post-racial, so we generously allow POC to exist in our countries, and not just as slaves, either. Look how far we’ve come!
The idea that POC, either in modern times or in the past, might have as much “ownership” of a nation as a white person doesn’t even enter the equation. Thinking of things in this way allows white supremacists to think of POC as ungrateful and demanding guests: we’ve given them so much already, and they still want more!
Since Europe is traditionally looked to as the 'standard’ of 'civilized culture’, wouldn’t painting it as an all white society reinforce the otherness of PoC civilizations? It also reinforces the idea that the most important western contributions to culture must have therefore been white (I am reminded of the Beethoven debacle).
For me, most people are taught all the things Europe did right— war, science, politics, fashion, ect— so admitting they re-learned science from the Middle East, took the “iconic” Medieval cone hat from the Mongols, took numbers from Sanskrit, took politics from a multicultural country, took gunpowder from China… Europe’s shiny polish gets really chipped, really fast.
Let’s look at the answers to the question that we’ve constructed today: How does white supremacy profit from the commonly held belief that there were no People of Color in European History?
This is what I’m hearing (agree or not):
Removing POC enhances Europe’s Historical reputation as “civilized” and “cultured”; inversely, telling the historical truth would tarnish that reputation
It constructs a false idea of “racial purity”, which is romanticized in popular culture
It reinforces the “Otherness” of non-European and POC-associated cultures
It is used to exclude people of color from modern media, which tends to concentrate itself around European and Eurocentric stories and narratives
It creates the concept of default whiteness, in such a way that any people of color present are automatically regarded as “foreigners”, in a way that any similar white European would be regarded as “Native”…and may cast people of color as “ungrateful and demanding guests”
It is used to justify discrimination against modern immigrants to European nations who are people of color
Using the myth of ancestral racial purity to argue against “Race mixing”, along with assumed racial “Achievements”
Continued belief in a historically all-white Europe upholds current sociopolitical structures of colonialism and neo-colonialism, including the institutionalized racism of the United States
it raises undereducated bigots
it downplays or ignores the contribution of people of color, especially Black women, to social, cultural, and political European Historical life, and thus to our modern society and culture. It also erases the atrocities committed by European and/or white figures perpetrated on people of color as a whole and as individuals.
It creates an attitude of “racial ownership” towards aspects of both historical culture and modern culture
It hides European problems that were solved by cultural exchange and interactions, and implies that these problems were solved in a cultural vacuum for the purpose of elevating the sense of cultural/racial achievement