I ran across the blog Medieval POC while reading an article at the Oxford University Press. The focus of the blog is to “showcase works of art from European history that feature People of Color” and to “address common misconceptions that People of Color did not exist in Europe before the Enlightenment”. Here’s a recent post:
The all-white reinvention of Medieval Europe commonly depicted in popular fiction, films, tv shows and art is entirely that: a fiction. An invention. An erasure. Obviously, people of color have been an essential and integral part of European life, European art, and European literary imagination since time immemorial. To cite “historical accuracy” as a means to project whitewashed images of the past into the future to maintain a fiction of white supremacy is an unconscionable farce.
I would go so far that it is not so much a reinvention as it is an omission and invention. To say “reinvention” would imply the initial invention included black people: it did, as an afterthought, but not in a positive light in any stretch. You cannot look at these images without providing context.
Indeed, the 6th image of the little girl was PAINTED OUT of the picture she was in – the academics discovered that in 1940s. It was not until the late 1990s that white art historian Gabrielle Langdon brought that to light. And I was the first Black person to tell her categorically that the child was both black and a girl (she agreed and lamented the fact she had only been in contact with white scholars up to that point).
Until I got started on the project back in the nineties information about black people in the middle ages and Renaissance periods were NOT accessible – scattershot at best. I had to go through the sources *by hand* one by one. Only in the past 5 years has Black academia caught up. The following is a result of over 15 years of cataloging and research. I recommend that you look at the list and look up the stuff.http://www.africandiasporabibliography.com/