starrynvghts  asked:

my history classes usually teach us that the birth of the atlantic slave trade had nothing to do with racism and that racism was born from it, not the other way around. i've always been kind of leery of that. i was wondering what your thoughts on the subject were?

Since this ask is specifically about anti-Black racism and its association with chattel slavery, my “thoughts on it” are pretty irrelevant. But what I can do is basically show you where to look for diverse voices and educated writings on this matter:

Discussion here:

Discussion here:

Syllabus with Reading List:

On The Enlightenment as the template for Modern anti-Black (and other) Racism (quotes from Kant; Hume; Goethe):

More here:

On Conflicting Sources:

On Inaccessible and/or problematic Sources:

The Invention of Racism in Classical Antiquity by Benjamin Isaac (sample at link)

Barbarian Invasions and the Racialization of Art History. Eric Michaud. OCTOBER 139, Winter; 2012, pp. 59–76. Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

‘Race’, ‘Nation’, ‘People’: Ethnic Identity ­Construction in 1 Peter 2.9 David G. Horrell. New Testament Studies / Volume 58 / Issue 01 / January 2012, pp 123 ­ 143.

Answering the Multicultural Imperative: A Course on Race and Ethnicity in Antiquity Author(s): Denise Eileen McCoskey. Source: The Classical World, Vol. 92, No. 6 (Jul. - Aug., 1999), pp. 553-561. Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press

Let this be a reminder that Medievalpoc/Girljanitor and whatever the hell other names they go by, is not Native or Romani yet they continue to claim they are. How long does it take for people to realize that they, like Andrea Smith and Rachel Dolezal, are a fraud? We can no longer allow people like this to run around communities (Native, Black, etc.) speaking over and profiting off of us, and spreading inaccurate information in the process. Natives, Romani, and other POC have called them out. This has to end. Enough is enough is ENOUGH! 


A Showcase of Diversity from Indie Science Fiction, Fantasy & Speculative Fiction Authors

For Medieval POC’s Diverse Fiction Week

Sometimes it’s just nice to be represented on covers. I’ve found quite a few Indie Authors who’ve made an effort to ensure that people of color are represented in their stories and on their covers. Each of the following books are either the first in their series or standalones.

Third Daughter by Susan Kaye Quinn: A steampunk trilogy set in an alternate east-Indian world.

Blades Of Magic by Terah Edun: A high fantasy series with a sword-wielding protagonist who doesn’t wait to be saved.

Justice Calling by Annie Bellet: A Native American sorceress in Idaho who’s an unabashed gamer nerd.

Forever Mine by Elizabeth Reyes: A stunning contemporary romance with Latino protagonists.

Fall of Sky City by S.M. Blooding: An adventurous steampunk series that sets sail on airships in an East Asian setting.

Girl With Flying Weapons: An assassin-in-training stars in a cozy mystery set in 9th-Century China.

The Ghost of Josiah Grimshaw by Suzy Turner: Two adopted sisters work together to fight off supernatural evils in London.

What Kills Me by Wynne Channing: An urban fantasy series with a sassy Asian vampire who finds herself the hunted prey of a legendary prophecy.

The Queen Bee of Bridgeton by Leslie DuBois: A young ballerina transitions from living in a poor urban community when she wins a full-scholarship to a top-tier school.

The Preacher’s Promise by Piper Huguley: A schoolteacher’s journey through the post-Civil War South in a harrowing effort to uplift her race.

medievalpoc is a white person making money by self-admitingly providing eurocentric commentary and then some downright incorrect ancient aliens tier historiography and is making more money than adjuncts (including adjunct faculty of color!) teaching actual history

wiley--coyote  asked:

Hey, absolutely love this blog, like I can't say how delighted I was to stumble across it. Just one question, though : is there a reason you opted to call it "medieval" people of color, when you do feature other time periods of art? Is medieval art your favorite?

Siiiiigh. Well, this is probably the #1 Frequently Asked Question, which is why it’s at the top in my “Frequently Asked Questions” section.

[Why is your url “MedievalPOC”, and why are you posting art I consider non-Medieval?

Because this is actually a Historiography blog. Because I’m analyzing the specific juxtaposition of those two terms, and the way our modern ideas and attitudes about the past greatly affect our perspective. Because history doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and each subsequent era affects our information on previous eras. Because there is no “Racial Reset Button”, and because Art History periodization is terrible.]

Although at this point I’d also add:

Because this information and these materials are desperately needed, and no one else was providing them.

Pocket Guide to some of the claims Tumblr blog medievalpoc IS and IS NOT making

medievalpoc is NOT claiming:

  • that in mediaeval Europe, there were lots of people of colour everywhere
  • that perceptions of race have always been the same, everywhere
  • that fantasy and historical fiction and games should focus exclusively on people of colour, no white characters allowed any more
  • that all important inventions and achievements were the work of POC and white people have never done anything cool 
  • that everything on their blog is about the mediaeval period because the word ‘medieval’ is in the URL
  • that everything on their blog is 100% accurate
  • that Beethoven was totally black, you guys.

medievalpoc IS claiming:

  • that throughout the history of Europe, people of colour have been present in various places at various times, some as visitors, some as residents, and contemporary works of art provide evidence of this. This is because international trade, travel and migration have always been part of human life. There was never a time when Europe was exclusively white-populated and had no contact with other parts of the world. 
  • perceptions of race have changed over time and are different in different cultures; they are observing from the perspective of an American applying Critical Race Theory to art history and historiography
  • 'historical accuracy’ is not a valid reason to have no POC characters in fantasy and historical fiction and games. For many times and places, it would be more accurate to include some. It is not fair or honest for white people to claim ownership of Europe’s history and mythology and exclude POC. Diversity makes these genres more interesting, and enjoyable for more people.
  • POC have been responsible for many noteworthy inventions and achievements, but in the teaching of history and art history in the United States of America (the blogger can only comment on the education system with which they are familiar), they are frequently minimised or left out altogether. This is wrong and needs to be remedied, because it is unfair to students of colour and reinforces racism in white students.
  • their blog started out focusing on mediaeval depictions of POC and then grew; also, terms like 'mediaeval’ and divisions of history into distinct periods are artificial and applied by modern historians. They can create a false impression in students that history happened in neatly compartmentalised stages. That doesn’t mean they are useless terms but we need to be aware of it when we use them.
  • that they are as capable of error as anyone else and accept corrections and clarifications. It’s just that 'everyone knows’ is not valid supporting evidence for a correction. They provide links to sources for their claims and expect anyone disagreeing with them to do the same. Some of their sources are in conflict with each other. This reflects the fact that the writing of history is not objective and unified.
  • some people who knew Beethoven when he was alive commented in surviving documents that he sure looked black to them. There is no possible way of knowing what race Beethoven would be considered (or would identify as) if he were alive today. This is interesting! Nobody should feel threatened by it.

Advent Calendar Day 10: Balthazar

Over the next month, I’ll be offering thoughts on the Nativity set model, a large papercraft crèche that you can find and download here:

In yesterday’s write-ups I discussed why we default to three as the number for the magi; today I’ll touch on why we give them kingly status.

Early Christian writers (including some of those who penned the New Testament) made a concerted effort to tie Christ with scripture of the past, and the magi-as-kings interpretation is a post-Biblical example of this continued theological tradition.  Though Psalm 72 (including the verse pertinent to this write-up, “May all kings bow down to him, may all nations serve him”) is clearly a literal blessing/prayer from David to his son Solomon, it becomes viewed around the 600s as a prophecy about Christ, a complete departure from its original intent, but one that quickly cements itself in the Church.  The problem is that, as prophecy, it leaves some holes, especially a notable lack of kings bowing before Christ.  For some, EVENTUAL bowing hundreds of years later by kings and emperors was enough, but some thought it ought to reflect events during his lifetime.  Thus, we see the magi transformed into kings in order to account for this theological addition.

So this creates some obstacles: the kings are probably not from the same country, or else they would not be true kings.  So the all-Persian/all-Babylonian grouping disappears, and we begin to see the varied ethnicity that has become such a staple of nativity depictions.

In the 700s, global sociology, at least for Christians, was viewed through a Noahic lens, with the assumption that all of the world’s population descended from the three sons of Noah: Japeth populating Europe, Shem populating Asia, and Ham populating Africa (this latter notion would be used to justify slavery in the United States, citing that Noah’s curse on Ham’s son extended to all his offspring, and that this curse is slavery).

With the world thus divided, the kings best serve prophetic purpose by operating as a stand-in for their continents as a whole.  So we see each given a fixed position and clear ethnicity, elements which exist to some degree or another to this day.  And while two of the kings, Melchior and Caspar, are all over the place, race-wise, Balthazar has been consistently depicted as Sub-Saharan African for the last six hundred years (a likely result of the increased presence of black people in Europe), though his blackness finds its way into writing and art as far back as the 1100s.

Balthazar, whose name, along with those of the other two kings, comes from an early 4th century Greek source, serves a symbolic function beyond the geographic.  Like the other kings, he takes on the responsibility of being a stand-in for a third of mankind, and as such represents the first stage of life.  Balthazar is young, about twenty, the avatar of youth.  And though I’ve never read commentary saying so, I’d like to think that this gives added bravado to the gift of myrrh (each of the named gifts is associated with a specific king, traditionally, and myrrh is linked with with Balthazar).  Myrrh is an embalming fluid, and I’d like to think that it’s a statement on the cavalarity with which the young regard mortality.

Balthazar is sometimes depicted riding an elephant, but I don’t like that approach.  It doesn’t make much sense for someone from Nubia/the Sudan (my take) to be riding an Indian elephant, and there’s little precedent for domesticated African elephants.  The latter also gives a kind of Africa-as-fantasy vibe that I think has bad social repercussions.  I gave him a dromedary, which would have been abundant in Nubia.  And the color palette?  Yanked from Franco Zefferelli’s Jesus of Nazareth miniseries, in which Balthazar is played by James Earl Jones.  I’ve always been a big fan of Zefferelli’s color choices (both in film and his art direction for opera) and thought this would be a good place to give a nod to his influence.

is-sweet-like-cinnamon  asked:

Why don't you like mpoc?

Here’s the set of links I usually refer people to when I get asked this


‘Mask of Hanako’ by Auguste Rodin, 1907. Found at the Rodin Museum in Philadelphia, PA. Link to this sculpture on their website.

From Wikipedia:

Hisa Ōta (大田 ひさ Ōta Hisa?, May 7, 1868–April 2, 1945) was a Japanese stage actress who spanned the Meiji and Taishō periods of Japan and was known by the name Hanako (花子). The kanji given for her name when born were 飛佐 (Hisa), but she did not use those during her career.

Starting in 1900, she spent the majority of her career touring Europe and was the only Japanese person to model for Auguste Rodin, who gave her two masks he created, using Hanako as a model. These masks are on display in the city of Gifu in Gifu PrefectureJapan, where she spent her twilight years. She was also the basis for Mori Ōgai’s short story Hanako.

  • 1868 - Born in Kamisobue, NakashimaOwari Province (now Ichinomiya, Aichi) to a farmer.
  • 1875 - Adopted by a green-grocer, as her family was unable to afford to feed her.
  • 1884 - Became a geisha.
  • 1888 - Married first husband.
  • 1898 - Divorced first husband and married second husband.
  • 1901 - Divorced second husband.
  • 1902 - Travels to Europe for the first time.
  • 1904 - Begins touring Germany with a performance troupe.
  • 1906 - Meets Rodin in July.
  • 1907 - Travels to America for the first time.
  • 1910 - Travels to Russia for the first time.
  • 1916 - Returns to Japan to recruit dancers for her troupe and begins touring Europe again.
  • 1921 - Returns to Japan for good.
  • 1927 - Adopts her brother’s son.
  • 1934 - Granddaughter is born.
Unforgiven: A Highlander fic

So a while ago, Medieval POC, the website/tumblr I feel is the actual purpose of the Internet existing, posted this picture:

and requested immortal vampire fic. I was all like “VAMPIRE WUT NO HIGHLANDER OBVS!” and she said that would do too.

And then I, er, had an idea. And then…well, then this happened:

Unforgiven: A Highlander Fic
Etruria (today, Tuscany): ca 500 BC

The last thing he remembered was the lion killing him.

He didn’t expect to awaken in a field; he did not expect to awaken with a surge of pain that felt like his blood had been set on fire. That faded quickly, as if was no more than a warning of things to come, and he was left again with the strangeness of awakening at all, much less beneath the blazing sun and surrounded by wildflowers. His faith said the afterlife would put him in a home much like the one he’d left, domed and comfortable, and that he would be reunited with the family who had gone before.

It said nothing of a sharp-nosed man crouching over him, expression patient, as if he had been waiting for some time and was prepared to wait longer yet. “Ah,” he said. “There you are. What’s your name?”

The answer to that seemed a long time in coming; surely the dead knew who roamed their own realm, and the lion’s blows had rattled his own brains. “Alcaeus.” he finally replied. “Who are you?”

“Alcaeus. What on earth were you thinking, going after the lion?”

“A child was going to die.” That, he remembered more clearly than his own name. The boy had stood up and said it all very simply: today he would be fed to the lion, the Nemean Lion, the beast of the north. Alcaeus might go in his stead and slay the monster; if he failed, then in a month’s time this child of no more than ten years would be sacrificed to appease the gods and draw the beast away. There were three paths before him that day, and two led to the child’s death.

The third, of course, led to his own glory, and the survival of a child, besides. It was reason enough to have acted.

Still, it earned a derisive snort from the slender man. “Children die all the time. And if you didn’t notice, you died instead, accomplishing nothing.”

Alcaeus’ eyes closed in dismay. He had known, of course; he remembered the blows that killed him, but this was so unlike the afterlife he had been prepared for…. “You are not Leinth,” he said after a time, and opened his eyes again. “Laran?”

A softness came over the man’s face, an inward change that could not disguise the masculine lines of his nose and jaw but which somehow awakened all that was female within him. “Could I not be Leinth? Deity of death, god and goddess?” His female manner faded as quickly as it had come; Alcaeus could only stare in wordless astonishment at his shifting aspects as he spoke again. “But Laran…Laran is closer. God of war,” he said, and a depth of bitter irony shivered through his voice. It returned to its usual tenor with his next words, the change so swift it might have been imagined. “You can call me Laran. But as it happens, you’re not dead.”

“Thank the gods.” It was not that he minded dying, but waking in a field of flowers under sunshine and the sarcastic voice of a thin-faced man was not what he hoped for from the afterlife. “…why am I not dead?”

“Because you’re immortal. Get up and get out of here before anybody else realises it.” Laran stood and offered his hand, pulling Alcaeus to his feet. “You already know how to fight, so I’m not going to waste my time on you. The rules are simple: you can’t die unless your head leaves your shoulders. There are others like you who will try to kill you for your power. You’ll feel them coming. Kill them or talk your way out of it and you might just live forever. Good luck.” He strode away, leaving Alcaeus alone in a field of golden flowers.

Keep reading

(Picture from

MedievalPOC is doing a POC Scientists and Mathematicians week this week! This is a topic I wanted to learn more about anyway, so I thought maybe I could contribute. I noticed that there hasn’t yet been an article about my favorite medieval Chinese astronomer/geologist/mathematician/inventor/poet/diplomat/all-around awesome dude 沈括 (Shen Kuo) (1031 - 1095 AD) Somebody else could probably write a better article than I can, since I’m just a beginner to this topic, but here goes anyway…!

Shen Kuo lived during the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127), which was a very fertile intellectual period for medieval China. Inventions during the Song Dynasty included gunpowder weapons, the canal pound lock, windmills, movable-type printing, and the compass, as well as great advances in metallurgy and shipbuilding.

During his lifetime, Shen Kuo had his fingers in every imaginable field of learning, making extensive studies of nature and of human inventions while traveling around China as a civil servant, diplomat, and military commander. He’s what Europe would call (four centuries later) a “renaissance man”. ;-) Most of what we know about Shen Kuo comes from an enormous book called the Dream Pool Essays (梦溪笔谈 Mengxi Bitan) that he wrote during his retirement. The whole book is on Project Gutenberg, if you happen to be able to read medieval Chinese. Here’s a few of the highlights:

The compass: Most of us know that the magnetic compass is a Chinese invention, but before the Song dynasty it was mainly used for ritual and fortune-telling purposes. Shen Kuo was the first person to measure the difference between Magnetic North and True North, and by so doing helped make the compass into a reliable navigation aid for Song Dynasty ships.

Geology: During his extensive travels around China, Shen Kuo observed fossilized seashells far inland in Shanxi province, as well as petrified bamboo in Yan'an province, which was too dry for bamboo to grow. He deduced that Shanxi must once have been on the sea, and that northern China must once have been much wetter, and proposed a theory of climate and geological change via erosion, mountain uplift, and soil deposition. He also published quite accurate maps, using a consistent scale, based on his geographical surveys.

Astronomy: Shen Kuo made careful observations of the motions of the planets and the phases of the moon, similar to what Tycho Brahe would do centuries later. To make more accurate measurements, he improved the design of the astronomical instruments used at the time – armilarry sphere, gnomon, sighting tube, and water clock. He accurately described the retrograde motion of the planets, proposed the theory that the moon was a sphere lit by the sun, and explained the mechanism of eclipses. Thanks the accuracy of his measurements, he discovered that the position of the Pole Star and the orbits of the planets had shifted slightly since their measurement 350 years earlier by Yi Xing. (Apparently his political enemies used this to get him into a lot of trouble at court, since Yi Xing was highly respected and criticizing his work was considered unacceptable!)

Archaeology: Speaking of criticizing ancient texts, Shen Kuo carefully dug up ritual artifacts of earlier dynasties and argued that physical evidence of the past should be given more weight than textual records.

Math: He solved a lot of complex problems of trigonometry and circular geometry, inspired by his time in the government and military: the calculation of areas for land tax, the efficient packing of spheres, and the terrain space needed for military formations. He also used combinatorics to calculate the number of possible positions in a Go game, and wrote about the mathematical relationships in music.

Medicine: Shen Kuo showed that the human throat has two openings (the trachea and the esophagus), debunking what was at the time the mainstream theory that there were three openings (for solid, liquid, and air).

Besides science, he also wrote extensive poetry, political treatises, and art criticism, and wrote the earliest known description of movable-type printing, which he tells us was invented by a man named Bi Sheng.

So overall, Shen Kuo had a pretty amazing life, and contributed to many different fields. Today his tomb is a tourist attraction in the city of Hangzhou.

(Most of this information is from Wikipedia.)

John Blanke, a black trumpeter in Henry VIII's court
  • John Blanke, a black trumpeter in Henry VIII's court
  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography podcast: John Blanke, a black trumpeter in Henry VIII’s court

His surname may have originated as a nickname, derived from the word blanc in French or blanco in Spanish, both meaning ‘white’. Blanke was part of a wider trend for European rulers to employ African musicians, dating from at least 1194, when turbaned black trumpeters heralded the entry of the Holy Roman emperor Henry VI into Palermo in Sicily. It has been suggested that Blanke arrived in England with Katherine of Aragon when she came to marry Arthur, prince of Wales, in 1501. Between 1507 and 1512 Blanke was one of eight royal trumpeters under the leadership of Peter de Casa Nova. The first payment to ‘John Blanke, the blacke Trumpet’ was made in early December 1507, when he was paid 20s. (8d. a day) for his services in the previous month

The story of John Blanke is one of over 200 episodes available from the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography’s podcast archive. New episodes are released every second Wednesday.

Image: Black trumpeter at Henry VIII’s tournament. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Don’t forget that medievalpoc is trash not just because its rum by a rachel dolezal/andrea smith type of charlatan but also the quality of the history and text posts is garbage like that whole “Egypt established trade routes to the Americas” fiasco