Blacks

Discussion in 'Race Relations/Racism' started by Huey, Dec 22, 2012.

  1. Huey
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    Huey Silver Member

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    Demonstrating an impressive command of his sources, Snowden averred that blacks were hardly a rare sight in the ancient world, particularly in the role of soldier and mercenary, but also as merchant, diplomat, slave and servant. Blacks (most commonly referred to then as Ethiopians) were not viewed by white majority nonblacks as inferior, he pointed out, since they were not thought of solely as slaves or the descendants of a servile race---the rise of capitalism, European colonialism, and pseudo-scientific dogmas would implant this notion centuries later. Snowden reiterated this assertion throughout the book, thereby buttressing its most important conclusion: that there was no anti-black prejudice in the region during antiquity. He reminds us that the philosopher Xenophanes in the fifth century BCE was the first European to attempt to describe blacks in terms other than skin color though there is undisputed iconographical evidence of blacks on the Greek island of Crete as early as the second millennium BCE. Herodotus, the revered “Father of History,” opined that Ethiopians were “the most handsome of all men.” Other evidence used to support the idea of a pre-racist world devoid of negative black stereotypes include examples of intermarriage; allusions to the positive characterization of blacks in Greek mythology: the then widely accepted environmental explanation of man’s physical diversity; and the early Christians’ insistence upon the equality of blacks and whites; and the symbolic use of blacks to dramatize the universal nature of Christianity.



    The prose in Before Color Prejudice is as succinct and lucid as in the lengthier Blacks in Antiquity. The reader is shown numerous illustrations (75 plates displaying blacks in mosaics, sculpture, terracotta pottery, and paintings, and 3 maps). It is doubtful, however, that Snowden’s effort would satisfy those who disagree with his conclusions based upon his interpretations of evidence. Most difficult for them to embrace is the thesis that there was virtually no anti-black prejudice in the ancient Mediterranean. There is also the matter of the generally negative connotation of the color black in Western culture starting in antiquity. To his credit, Snowden constructed a formidable argument challenging the white “somatic norm image” of the Greco-Romans, contending that even grotesque or comical portrayals of blacks in classical art and literature has been misconstrued by modern observers who have erroneously linked current virulent racism to the distant past. The most disappointing aspect of the book is that it is essentially a shorter version of its superior predecessor, Blacks in Antiquity, despite the author’s statement in the preface to the effect that his approach has been enhanced by “pertinent findings in the social sciences. . . and the examination of the image of blacks in later societies . . . .” A fresh perspective promised by the author is not altogether apparent, though the book has obviously benefited from studies written in the thirteen years following the publication of Blacks in Antiquity, most notably The Image of the Black in Western Art, I: From the Pharaohs to the Fall of the Roman Empire by Jean Vercoutter et al. (New York: Morrow, 1976). The topic of color prejudice in the ancient world is admirably dissected, but too much of what is offered, especially the background material, will give many informed readers the uneasy sensation of déjà vu.


















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  2. IanC
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    IanC Gold Member

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    I remember reading a story by someone who was travelling in Africa. they stopped in a village at noon and all the inhabitants were in the shade under the only large tree. the visitor felt sorry for the goats that had to stand out in the sun because there was no room in the shade and thought, "why doesnt someone plant another tree?"

    a perfect anecdote for blacks and Africa. why dont they plant more trees, dig more water wells, build more roads, put in sewage lines? it is not like it is high tech.
     

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