Are these sculptures of roman citizens or slaves?
The association of Black people with enslavement is an entirely modern invention, as in, chattel slavery in the Americas and the routine enslavement of black people in Europe did not exist in Rome. Roman slavery was NOT the same as chattel slavery, and it did not have anything to do with race as we know it today.
This is what I’m talking about when I say that our modern attitudes and colonial-era histories 100% affect the way we view ancient artworks.
American schools teach “slavery then civil rights”, and that’s their “Black History” curricula, for the most part. That’s why I get responses like this. Because it seems like a large number of Americans see any Black person from before 1950 and think “slave”.
This is far from the first time someone has asked this, and it probably is far from the last time I will be asked. It’s my hope that people will really think about how we got to this point, and why it’s so necessary to explore how this degree of anti-blackness has been codified into our education system.
“May I ask why you felt little Tiffany deserved to die?”
I’m pretty sure this is why Tumblr gave us photosets.
To this day, I still have absolutely no idea if he actually did the right thing by shooting little Tiffany. His story was very convincing…
I totally bought that he was right.
I always though this was about not demonizing people based on how they look, instead focussing on what they do.
THAT’S RIGHT AGENT J
Made perfect sense to me! The MIB do a lot of diplomacy work, so of course they want to screen out agents who assume their job is to shoot at anything weird and scary-looking. They’re looking for someone who can get past xenophobic knee-jerk reactions in order to rationally assess the situation and determine whether or not there’s an actual threat present and, if so, where. And Agent J did just that.
#also as a kid the fact that J is a black guy gives some extra baggage to this scene #vis a vis how enforcement agencies would percieve something as a threat #and i still think will smith was savvy enough to have that in mind with this scene
Oh, yeah, definitely. I’m sure the writers had it in mind too, unless Will Smith ad libbed the part calling attention to Tiffany’s race, because if you weren’t thinking about the racial dynamics of this scene before he does that, you sure as Hell are afterward.
I decided to ignore anything pertaining to the film ‘Frozen’ a long time ago - the misrepresentation of the Saami in it, or rather the combination of misinformation and problematic myth-making in it did not appeal to me at all, I had already explained why I disapproved of the bastardisation of our traditional clothes at length and with far more pressing issues at hand, such as the revival of my maternal language or the fight against fierce colonialism on our ancestral lands, I neither felt compelled to nor had the time to waste more time on a Disney film which contributes virtually nothing to the cultural wealth and knowledge of my people.
But then someone submitted a post to the blog “Unpopular Opinions” here on Tumblr, and ever since, my inbox has been filled with angry, anonymous messages about how I have no right to be dismissive of the film as this unnamed person presented themselves as Saami and claimed that the film was loved by most Saami, and any critique of it was hurting the Saami.
I heavily disagree, critical discussions about representations are always needed, especially when we’re talking about members of indigenous peoples and other minorities and everything I have said about the film with regards to its false claims to Saami-ness stands, but to perhaps stop my inbox from being filled with more trite from people I don’t know, I’ll spend the rest of this post talking about ‘Frozen’ one single, last time, rather than rolling my eyes at inane messages on a daily basis.
I do not pretend to be speaking for anyone but myself, nor do I hide my identity behind a veil of anonymity. I am for better and worse fairly well-known within my own community, so I’ll say this for the last time, when I state that I find the film problematic because of how it deals with the Saami, I am expressing my own opinions.
I do not speak for the entirety of my people, nor do I actually see a problem with some Saami liking the film or disliking it as I do.
But as for the film.
In short there are three main things that particularly bug me; the first concerns the opening song, the second deals with the way our traditional clothes have been re-imagined by Disney and the last beef I have with Disney has to do with the director’s claim that Kristoff is Saami without showing any non-fictional proof whatsoever of this throughout the entire film.
But let’s start with the opening song, seeing as comments made by the President of the Norwegian Saami Parliament with regards to it has been interpreted as her loving the film.
In her New Year’s Speech, the president stated that ‘
‘the yoik “Eatnamen Vuelie” and Fjellheim’s musical talent is now making a whole world listen - to yoik. We are seeing the same in other cultural expressions: the Saami culture is expanding to ever new audiences’
It may come as a surprise, but I do agree with Aili Keskitalo as far as her statement goes - it is a great thing that we’re seeing our culture gaining new grounds - but only insofar as it’s being read in connection with the following paragraphs of her speech which have conveniently been left out of the quote by the majority of people on Tumblr.
In her speech, Aili Keskitalo goes on to say that “but often we experience that stories about us are being told by others than ourselves”. In other words, while not criticising the film per se, she’s not endorsing it either as some people have been claiming - she’s merely applauding the fact that Saami music is getting world-wide attention, followed by a paragraph where she high-lights the problematic aspects of having outsiders tell our stories without our involvement in them.
Now, ‘Vuelie’, has indeed been written by a South Saami composer, this is something I personally like, especially as I as a yoiker admire Frode Fjellheim’s work as far as the revitalisation of South Saami yoiking goes, but the choir performing it is not Saami, and as such I do not see Vuelie as an inclusion of a Saami voice in the film, but rather as a way to include something which is evocative and exotic, in the same way as the opening song of Pocahontas.
My opinions with regards to Vuelie would have been completely different, had Disney employed e.g. the Saami youth choir Vaajmoe to record the song, but seeing as they chose to employ a non-Saami choir, despite having asked Frode Fjellheim to rewrite his tune Eatnemen Vuelie to better suit the magical atmosphere of the film, my opinions remain unaltered.
Furthermore, in an interview which has been circulated widely on Tumblr in the last couple of weeks the composer Frode Fjellheim clearly states that the tune itself is only inspired by yoiking, calling it ‘en jojke-inspirert ting’, i.e. a tune inspired by yoiking, rather than being an actual yoik per se. This is hardly surprising, as the tune was originally written as a choral piece, but as it is called Vuelie, which is the South Saami word for a yoik, people have automatically coded it as a yoik, despite what Frode is actually calling it.
I maintain that a tokenist use of a cultural practice that was punishable by death until the late 18th century does not in fact count as inclusion, no matter how many times people tell me to be happy about the tune, and as much as I’m indeed happy for Frode to be earning a shit-load of money from his song, I do find the way in which it has been recorded to be deeply problematic nonetheless.
I mean, if they wanted something exotic without employing a Saami choir, they could have just gone full-on with the use of Scandinavian herding calls, which can be heard more or less whenever when some magic shit is going down in the film.
Over to the clothes; I have already explained why and how the clothes have been inspired by our traditional clothes in another post which can be found here, so I won’t spend too much time examining every part of Kristoff’s clothes, but I will mention a couple of things, the first thing being his shoes.
Kristoff is seen wearing a type of reindeer hide boots called goelke-gaamegh, or novhtegh in South Saami, but despite the fact that the shape is authentic, the lack of either shoelaces or woven shoebands and shoelaces mean that they would be highly impractical as snow would get into the shoes as they’re worn without a way to keep them tied closely to the leg.
Sure, shoes and odd clothes are hardly things that warrant any longer discussions, but the way in which all of Kristoff’s clothes seem to be almost Saami and then they’re not, well it really does not sit well with me at all.
I was brought up in an area of Saepmie where donning a gapta (traditional dress) was seen as something bad by the majority, something which warranted fierce discrimination, and to this day there are a gazillion unspoken rules, generational traumas and basic tiny details surrounding the wearing of our traditional dresses that I find it annoying to see the dress being bastardised in the way it’s been by Disney. As much as I don’t think of Kristoff as a Saami, I’d much preferred that they had at least made his clothes authentic, or not bothered with the so-called Saami influence at all.
Because what we now get to deal with are cosplayers who do not understand the deep, cultural codes behind our traditional clothes donning a fake version of our clothes and being applauded for it, while Saami children especially in my part of Saepmie struggle with the very idea of daring to put on a gapta in public because it’ll earn them snide, racists comments from the majority for daring to be publicly Saami.
To mention just one story of what wearing a gapta can result in, here’s one example. Last week I was talking to a friend of mine who uses his gapta regularly, and he told me how he’d worn it at a council meeting a couple of years ago when a right-wing politician had walked up to him, casually telling him that they were discussing plans on putting up new signs in a village close to Liksjoe, only they weren’t sure if the hanged Saami they wanted to put on it should be North or South Saami and seeing as my friend was being Saami in public, maybe he could wage in.
But let’s all cosplay Kristoff, why don’t we.
Finally, I would like to address the extensive myth-making in the film. On one hand Disney has done a great job at creating something fairly vapid, light-hearted and full of singable musical numbers, with an annoying yet somehow endearing talking snowman, but on the other hand they’ve made the Saami seem even more exotic and fairy-tale like by making Kristoff an orphan raised by trolls.
I mean, nice touch on writing ‘trolls’ in runes on the map at the beginning of the film, but the fact that the only supposed Saami in the entire movie is orphaned, thus stripped of a community which is essential to a Saami identity as our indigeneity is primarily communal rather than individual, and then have him being raised by fucking trolls just contributes to the idea that we’re either mythical creatures or not even real in the first place.
But it’s a film aimed at children, the trolls were so cute.
I actually enjoyed the song Let it Go, I liked that Kristoff was asking for consent before kissing Anna, I particularly liked the true-love twist at the end - but felt it would have been much better if the entire romantic subplot between Kristoff and Anna had been scrapped entirely, but there were so many parts of the film that I disliked that I couldn’t fully enjoy it and just sit back and “relax because it’s a children’s movie”.
The misrepresentation and myth-making surrounding Kristoff, i.e. the so-called Saami boy continues throughout the entire film and regardless of how minor it seems, it does feed into an ongoing discourse about us in Saepmie where we’re either seen as exotic or considered to be worth less than dirt depending on where you enter it. The fact that Kristoff is somehow Saami because he has a reindeer is another thing which grinds me the wrong way as this type of misinformation is already running wild over here and has been doing so for decades, i.e. that real Saami have reindeer, and it is making life complicated for actual reindeer and non-reindeer herding Saami alike in Saepmie.
Finally, for a company which claims to have done extensive research on the Saami, they’re clearly not knowing enough about us or even reindeer to know that
- Sven has the antlers of a female reindeer.
- A full-grown man would not be able to ride a reindeer bull. Like ever. The belief that Saami used to ride their reindeer goes all the way back to 1540, when Olaus Magni, who had never actually seen a real-life Saami, claimed that we used reindeer as horses and published this picture in one of his books:
In other words, Disney is contributing to keeping yet another prejudice about my people alive and kicking.
- Reindeer are wild animals, and even vuejeme-råantjoeh, i.e. bulls used to lead a herd of reindeer during reindeer migrations wouldn’t ever behave like a dog.
- Kristoff’s sleigh is distinctly Norwegian, and it’s way too heavy to be pulled by a reindeer.
If Kristoff actually was Saami, his sleigh would probably look a lot more like this, and he’d have been using skis instead of walking.
Is Frozen the worst thing that has ever happened to us as a people? Well no, but it doesn’t mean that it isn’t problematic anyway.
SIGNAL BOOST THIS. thank you for taking the time to write out your thoughts.
This is the kind of thing i mean when I said “listening” in this post.
• The Daily Mail reports comments from New York’s new commissioner of citywide services, Stacey Cumberbatch, in which she suggests her ancestors were once slaves in Barbados who were owned by forebears of the Sherlock actor Benedict Cumberbatch. The actor has acknowledged his family’s history of slavery in a number of interviews, notes the paper. But was his five-greats grandfather Abraham Cumberbatch really so bad? It’s an important question, and one from which the Mail has not shirked when examining the history of William Prince Ford, the slave owner played by Cumberbatch in the Oscar-nominated film 12 Years a Slave. The movie, noted the paper last week, “has its critics, who say it ignores the kindness that Ford is known to have displayed towards his slaves”. To them, it continues, Ford was “the very moral of morality”. That’s the thing about slavery. It’s such an ethical grey area.
Shared without further comment from: Esther Addley’s diary: I didn’t buy a Nazi uniform. And there were no salutes | Politics | The Guardian (via pourqua)
So anyway, I was having this argument with my father about Martin Luther King and how his message was too conservative compared to Malcolm X’s message. My father got really angry at me. It wasn’t that he disliked Malcolm X, but his point was that Malcolm X hadn’t accomplished anything as Dr. King had.
I was kind of sarcastic and asked something like, so what did Martin Luther King accomplish other than giving his “I have a dream speech.”
Before I tell you what my father told me, I want to digress. Because at this point in our amnesiac national existence, my question pretty much reflects the national civic religion view of what Dr. King accomplished. He gave this great speech. Or some people say, “he marched.” I was so angry at Mrs. Clinton during the primaries when she said that Dr. King marched, but it was LBJ who delivered the Civil Rights Act.
At this point, I would like to remind everyone exactly what Martin Luther King did, and it wasn’t that he “marched” or gave a great speech.
My father told me with a sort of cold fury, “Dr. King ended the terror of living in the south.”
Please let this sink in and and take my word and the word of my late father on this. If you are a white person who has always lived in the U.S. and never under a brutal dictatorship, you probably don’t know what my father was talking about.
But this is what the great Dr. Martin Luther King accomplished. Not that he marched, nor that he gave speeches.
He ended the terror of living as a black person, especially in the south.
I’m guessing that most of you, especially those having come fresh from seeing The Help, may not understand what this was all about. But living in the south (and in parts of the midwest and in many ghettos of the north) was living under terrorism.
It wasn’t that black people had to use a separate drinking fountain or couldn’t sit at lunch counters, or had to sit in the back of the bus.
You really must disabuse yourself of this idea. Lunch counters and buses were crucial symbolic planes of struggle that the civil rights movement used to dramatize the issue, but the main suffering in the south did not come from our inability to drink from the same fountain, ride in the front of the bus or eat lunch at Woolworth’s.
It was that white people, mostly white men, occasionally went berserk, and grabbed random black people, usually men, and lynched them. You all know about lynching. But you may forget or not know that white people also randomly beat black people, and the black people could not fight back, for fear of even worse punishment.
This constant low level dread of atavistic violence is what kept the system running. It made life miserable, stressful and terrifying for black people.
White people also occasionally tried black people, especially black men, for crimes for which they could not conceivably be guilty. With the willing participation of white women, they often accused black men of “assault,” which could be anything from rape to not taking off one’s hat, to “reckless eyeballing.”
This is going to sound awful and perhaps a stain on my late father’s memory, but when I was little, before the civil rights movement, my father taught me many, many humiliating practices in order to prevent the random, terroristic, berserk behavior of white people. The one I remember most is that when walking down the street in New York City side by side, hand in hand with my hero-father, if a white woman approached on the same sidewalk, I was to take off my hat and walk behind my father, because he had been taught in the south that black males for some reason were supposed to walk single file in the presence of any white lady.
This was just one of many humiliating practices we were taught to prevent white people from going berserk.
I remember a huge family reunion one August with my aunts and uncles and cousins gathered around my grandparents’ vast breakfast table laden with food from the farm, and the state troopers drove up to the house with a car full of rifles and shotguns, and everyone went kind of weirdly blank. They put on the masks that black people used back then to not provoke white berserkness. My strong, valiant, self-educated, articulate uncles, whom I adored, became shuffling, Step-N-Fetchits to avoid provoking the white men. Fortunately the troopers were only looking for an escaped convict. Afterward, the women, my aunts, were furious at the humiliating performance of the men, and said so, something that even a child could understand.
This is the climate of fear that Dr. King ended.
If you didn’t get taught such things, let alone experience them, I caution you against invoking the memory of Dr. King as though he belongs exclusively to you and not primarily to African Americans.
The question is, how did Dr. King do this—and of course, he didn’t do it alone.
(Of all the other civil rights leaders who helped Dr. King end this reign of terror, I think the most under appreciated is James Farmer, who founded the Congress of Racial Equality and was a leader of nonviolent resistance, and taught the practices of nonviolent resistance.)
So what did they do?
They told us: Whatever you are most afraid of doing vis-a-vis white people, go do it. Go ahead down to city hall and try to register to vote, even if they say no, even if they take your name down.
Go ahead sit at that lunch counter. Sue the local school board. All things that most black people would have said back then, without exaggeration, were stark raving insane and would get you killed.
If we do it all together, we’ll be okay.
They made black people experience the worst of the worst, collectively, that white people could dish out, and discover that it wasn’t that bad. They taught black people how to take a beating—from the southern cops, from police dogs, from fire department hoses. They actually coached young people how to crouch, cover their heads with their arms and take the beating. They taught people how to go to jail, which terrified most decent people.
And you know what? The worst of the worst, wasn’t that bad.
Once people had been beaten, had dogs sicced on them, had fire hoses sprayed on them, and been thrown in jail, you know what happened?
These magnificent young black people began singing freedom songs in jail.
That, my friends, is what ended the terrorism of the south. Confronting your worst fears, living through it, and breaking out in a deep throated freedom song. The jailers knew they had lost when they beat the crap out of these young Negroes and the jailed, beaten young people began to sing joyously, first in one town then in another. This is what the writer, James Baldwin, captured like no other writer of the era.
Please let this sink in. It wasn’t marches or speeches. It was taking a severe beating, surviving and realizing that our fears were mostly illusory and that we were free.
Saw some white boy walking around with a t-shirt that said “Who needs drugs?” and then, in smaller print underneath, “(No seriously, I have drugs.)”
What the fuck.
Imagine what would happen if an African American or dark-skinned Hispanic kid went out wearing a shirt like that. But this asshole can walk around in public with a t-shirt advertising that he’s a drug dealer and face zero consequences because people are willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that it’s just a joke.
White privilege: it exists.
I really wish people on this site would stop speaking on behalf of the Sami culture. I am Sami. I was born and raised in Norway (Where Frozen takes place.) I know alot of other Sami people. I am white and blonde. I look like Kristoff. Most of my Sami friends are also white. We are white. When people say that Disney “fucked up” by making Kristoff white because “they aren’t white” it hurts me because I am and a lot of other people are too.
Most of my Sami friends- most Sami that I know, actually (Not that I’m speaking for everyone, just from my experience living in Norway and growing up around other Samis) loved this movie. I LOVE that they had a Sami composer come in to do the intro. I LOVED all the little references to our culture. I didn’t feel “cheapened” or “appropriated” or whatever people are trying to say. Our own president, Aili Keskitalo, LOVED the movie. The movie is going to be shown at Skábmagovat, a Sámi movie festival in Finland. Most of us (from what I’ve gathered) really liked this movie.
You all tell white, straight, cis people to “check their privilege” and to “not speak on behalf of PoC,” but so many people who are not of my culture are speaking on behalf of us and I find it very hypocritical. Most of you had never even heard of the Sami culture until this film.
So please. Put down the virtual pitchforks and just enjoy the movie.
I think it is fair to criticize “Frozen” as an American film that does not reflect American diversity and as a film for a global audience that does not reflect global diversity. It is a fantasy film that is not set in any real country nor does it reflect reality, so arguments that it’s not realistic to have POCs are moot without dragging indigenous groups into it. They could have chosen to include a diverse cast.
That said, it is NOT ok to use actual indigenous groups for straw-man arguments.
Maybe this is a crazy question, but how did Europeans know what Africans looked like? I know that some of the paintings here are of North Africans/Middle Easterners, but others clearly depict people born south of the Sahara. I've heard of Prester John but I never imagined that medieval Europeans were aware that Prester John would have had brown skin. Am I missing something?
Like. There are a lot of things I could say here. But I’m just going to do my best to answer your question, and the answer is either very simple or very complicated, depending on your current point of view.
1. “They” knew what people with brown skin looked like because people with brown skin had been there literally THE ENTIRE TIME. Some (and father back, ALL) of “them” had brown skin themselves.
2. “People with Brown Skin” and “Europeans” are not separate and mutually exclusive groups.
3. No matter how far back you go, the mythical time that you’re looking for, when all-white, racially and culturally isolated Europe was “real”, will continue to recede from your grasp until it winkles out the like imaginary place it is.
We can just keep going back. In every area, from all walks of life, rich and poor, kings and peasants, artists and iconoclasts, before there were countries and continents, before there were white people.
The time when “EVERYONE” in Europe was White does not exist. They knew what people with brown skin looked like because they were there. They knew what “Africans” looked like because they were there, and they weren’t “they”, they were us, or you. I think what you’re missing is something that never existed.
…And there you have it.
This is completely unrelated to Dresden Codak, but regarding an ask about Tolkien to Gingerhaze you called Aragorn and the Dúnedain "Middle Eastern". Is this based on how Aragorn is described as "dark", or on something else? I've never really considered the skin colours of the people of Arda so I'm really curious.
In his letters and also in Lost Tales/Unfinished Tales/Etc., Tolkien connects the crown of Numenor historically with the crown of Egypt. This was inspired by Plato’s idea that Egypt, etc. were founded as colonies of Atlantis. (This is likely why the Numenorean language has semitic roots). Tolkien explicitly made Numenor his version of Atlantis, and it’s no coincidence that the kingdom of Gondor roughly corresponds geographically with a Mediterranean/North African colony. Given the thousands of years involved, Gondor had to have been multiracial by the time of Lord of the Rings, but Aragorn, being of a direct line of Numenoreans and all but explicitly stated to be the ancestor of Egyptian royalty, would be what we would call Middle Eastern.
What’s fun is if we go further back, even the Numenoreans are multiracial in origin, comprising at least three distinct races of human (the Edain), none of whom were intended to directly correlate with or represent Anglo-Saxons or other groups of people historically associated with Northern Europe. Their adventures took place on a continent that sank and has no geographic analogue in the real world (in fact, they all originated somewhere “far East” just a few centuries prior). And, like I said before, they are collectively meant to be the ancestors of what would become essentially Egyptians and, possibly, all Middle Easterners. It’s actually one of the very few times where we can connect an ethnic group in the real world to one of Tolkien’s fictional groups of people. In general, the different races of people are kind of random, and rarely stand-ins for or ancestors of historical groups of people. Their physical and cultural descriptions rarely correspond with any real-world geography and racial groups.
Tolkien had some racist issues to be sure (his depiction of what might be black people is, at best, dismissive), but it’s a lot more complicated that what’s often assumed. To associate him with Wagner-esque Aryan wankery is way off the mark, when he openly derided that philosophy more than once (including when he told off some Nazis). The fact of the matter is, the cultures and races in the books rarely line up with anything in the real world. And when they sort of do, it’s not what people often think. What he called “Easterlings,” for example, would have corresponded with Slavic people, if anything, not East Asian people (who would be on a different continent, if you tried to make the maps line up with the real world). In any case, it’s dangerous to make those assumptions, as we’re talking about tens of thousands of years of human migration in between “when” Tolkien’s history occurred and “when” real human history started. Also, the geography and even continents are pretty different. Looking at the maps and trying to point out what each race/culture is “supposed to be” isn’t going to bear much fruit.
Sorry that this is such a long reply, but I feel like it’s important to point out that putting a bunch of white people in the starring roles of these adaptations says more about the people adapting them than Tolkien. With some creativity we can make these stories much more inclusive than they normally seem to be (and I intend to use this to include more genders and people of color in my adaptation of the Silmarillion).
Was Tolkien racist about some things? Absolutely, but he also deliberately left a LOT to the imagination, because he knew better than to spell it out. At the end of the day, it’s mythology, and that’s open to interpretation.