Detail of a 4th century CE gilded plate from the Sasanian period depicting a hunting scene. The capital of the Sassanid Persian Empire: Seleucia-Ctesiphon (near modern-day Baghdad) was one of the largest cities in the world. Freer and Sackler Galleries of the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.
lmao the idea that there's even solidarity among poc in america is a myth. How many non-black poc perpetuate anti-blackness? How many non-Latino poc perpetuate xenophobia? I'm not saying that there isn't a system of oppression built and serving whiteness, I'm saying the idea that racism is POC vs. White People isn't just UScentric, it's WHITE-centric, the idea that globally WHITENESS is power and "POC" are always victims strips non-white people of their history, it feels like people applying the
it feels like people applying the “mystic peaceful” native american trope to all non-white people around the world instead of, you know, treating them like fucking people with their OWN SEPERATE CULTURES, their own seperate societies, their own social justice issues ect.
I agree, that’s actually a pretty good point.
Even in the context of the US, “POC” can be racist towards other “POC” by reproducing systems of oppression started by the system that privileges “whiteness”. What I meant about “solidarity” is that the label “POC” is specifically a racialised identity taken on to combat the system of oppression that exists in the US- rather than being some sort of label that can be applied to anyone not wholly of European origin. Therefore, even more so, it should not be used carelessly outside Western contexts. Even in Europe, I’m a bit iffy about it because categorisation here also operates along cultural and nationality lines, not just colour (though yes, racism against non-white people does exist). Like people who may not be “white” but are well-assimilated in terms of language may be treated better than other “white” people who don’t speak the language of their country? (I.e Polish immigrant workers in the UK). This is because the faultlines between various European countries go back for centuries and therefore still matter today.
Mesoamerican warriors- there were many wars between various Mesoamerican city states, much like the well-documented wars between Greek city states.
What you’re referring to is the ‘Noble Savage’, and indeed I find it extremely condescending. While yes, it was portraying non-white people as peaceful rather than horrible savages, there needs to be realisation this is still fundamentally a romanticised and colonialist narrative- just as how East Asian women are often fetishised and exoticised as being “beautifully alluring”. That’s not good. Even the Native Americans in North America and the Mesoamericans (the Aztecs etc) to whom this trope was originally applied were not like that at all. Did they have their artists, poets and philosophers? Yes, but most of them were also fearsome warriors who were just as human, just as capable of violence as Europeans, who conducted warfare and human sacrifice, who had sophisticated military tactics and were nothing like naive people living in a pre-civilisation Eden. Just like every other praised European civilisation, like the Romans and the Greeks. To view them otherwise is infantilisation.
Ramses the Great, the Egyptian pharaoh believed to be referred to in the biblical story of “Exodus”. This relief is a depiction on him on his war chariot, in a battle against the Nubians, another African civilisation.
Does that mean the Europeans were right to do what they did to them? No, but it’s also condescending to view all non-white cultures and civilisations perpetually as a victim, to view us like babies, like children. Existing only as the martyred victim in someone else’s story actually perpetuates colonial narratives. Portraying non-European cultures as peaceful Noble Savages who were never hurt a fly before the “white man” came is profoundly insulting because it denies how we had a history long before that, because it denies the complexity of our civilisations- and denies the agency we had as humans capable of good and evil.
Map of Achaemenid Iran, also known as the first Persian Empire. Founded by Kouroush (Cyrus) the Great, it was the largest ancient empire, bigger than the Roman Empire.
That’s why as a Chinese person I do dislike the tendency for some people to fixate on what happened to us during the Opium Wars, and to therefore assume China is incapable of imperialism because it is “non-Western”. That’s forgetting how for ages the Chinese emperors waged expansionist wars and commanded tribute from Korea and Japan. While on one hand I do want the effects of European colonialism to be recognised- like on China during the Opium Wars, neither do I want a 4000 year old civilisation to be defined by an event that takes up a sliver of its entire history. While this is not always so, I find some social justice blogs dangerously come close to applying the Noble Savage trope or some variant of it upon us. Things like insisting warfare, genocide, cultural appropriation were invented by “white people” is patently untrue because many of the world’s oldest empires were not white! (The Sumerians? The Assyrians? The Ancient Egyptians? The Chinese? The Persians?)
The Assyrian “Hunt of Kings”- Assyrian kings routinely hunted lions. It also served as a symbolic display of a king’s power.
I know it may not be obvious and I understand it’s not intuitive to see us as conquerors, but to combat the legacy of European colonialism, we also have to challenge the way the dynamics are often “non-white” = victim, “white” = imperialist oppressors. Because then, we’re essentially kind of disproportionately attributing major aspects of human history to Europeans and doing no justice to the richness of human history. We sure did our fair share of conquering and forced assimilation too. 7000 years ago, you’d be hearing about Egyptian imperialism and supremacy! While this should not be used as an argument to trivialise the damage caused by European imperialism, at the same time, going to the other extreme and characterising the world as one messed up by Europeans…seems like a really condescending disregard of the complexity and sophistication of non-white civilisations everywhere. Part of combating colonial discourses is not only saying, “colonialism is bad” but, “we had an entire history, language, culture and civilisation- even empires, before that.”
Imagine the crew of The Finalizer desperately trying to hide the existence of Pokemon GO from Hux after his infamous Candy Crush obsession, until Ren finds him wandering in a circle in Snoke’s audience chamber with his datapad out muttering, “I must find more of these little cats….because then….they will turn into the BIG cat…”
Detail of a Sasanian silver bowl depicting a hunting scene. The partially gilded bowl dates back to the 4th-5th century CE. The capital of the Sassanid Persian Empire, Seleucia-Ctesiphon, (near modern-day Baghdad and ancient Babylon) was the largest city in the world until its destruction in the 7th century CE. Freer and Sackler Galleries of the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.