In 1942 a young African American Ph.D. in mathematics, David Blackwell, interviewed for a teaching job at Berkeley. He was hired, but not for many years.
When finally invited to join the statistics faculty in 1952, several of Blackwell’s new colleagues told him there was a backstory to his failed application a decade earlier. It had been decided to offer him a position in mathematics, they said, but the wife of the departmental chair, who sometimes invited the faculty to dinner, insisted she would not have a black person in her house — and the offer was squelched.
Blackwell, who eventually became the first tenured black professor in the University of California system, shares this vivid memory in a 10-hour interview with the Bancroft Library’s Regional Oral History Office (ROHO). His life history is part of a recently completed oral-history series on 18 pioneering African American faculty and senior administrators, hired before the advent of affirmative-action policies in the 1970s, who broke barriers and laid the groundwork for those who followed.
"As an actress, Ms. Dee was a bridge between the Harlem Renaissance and contemporary black theater. Inspired by Paul Robeson whom she met at the Schomburg’s American Negro Theater, she helped make artistry as a form of activism real and meaningful for actors as influential as Harry Belafonte and Audra McDonald." —Dr. Khalil Gibran Muhammad, The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
seraph-of-the-muses said: This isn't really a question but I felt the urge to send it anyways. I would just like you to know that what you're doing here is good and necessary because history is unfortunately sometimes white-washed. However, much of your technique is biased and intellectually disingenuous. I am a historian with plans to get my PHD in American and European histories. I'm not sure if its on purpose or not that you misinterpret information but, from looking at previous posts, you're doing it to fit an agenda
You’re practically peeing your pants hoping I’ll…what? Get really angry about your vague handwaving in my general direction without actually saying what exactly you have a beef with?
This is the literal definition of trolling. Rather bad trolling, considering you declared your intentions openly, which were just to get a rise out of me, or someone who saw, this I suppose. You also failed to pick something specific that I did or said that you have a problem with, so there’s really nothing for me to even get defensive about.
I think I’ll just walk a wide circle around this one on my way to “go study history better”, which I rather enjoy, and leave you to whatever “coming storm” you’re anticipating with such Rumpelstiltskin-like glee.
"Claiming that Sancho and Urraca were…POC? They were born of the visigoth nobility."
so i guess the argument here is just that POC =/= nobility, that’s some strong analytical thinking there
Pssst. The Visigoths are a nomadic Germanic group of people. From Germany. The Visigoths were Goths, people who migrated South from Scandinavia in roughly the 6th century. The nobility of Al-Andalus (Islamic Hispania) however, also existed.
Recaredo y Obispos. Concilio III de Toledo, año 589. Códice Vigilano, fol. 145, Biblioteca del Escorial.
Council III of Toledo year 589. Toledo being the name given to the Kingdom of the Visigoths in Hispania. 507-725. Those people above are Bishops and they are Visigoth.
Look, here it is bigger:
It’s from Codex Vigilanus (Albeldensis).
It’s almost as if one image on the internet cannot account for the coloration of a person, OR their racial/ethnic makeup.
I mean THIS:
is the same picture as THIS:
It’s almost as if the saturation on a very old manuscript was edited to see more details.
alliecat-person said: I just found your blog and as a fellow PhD student in U.S. history, I really appreciate what you're doing here. There's no reason why historical discussions on Tumblr couldn't be well-informed, but they're generally just not. Thanks for putting this out there and showing people that you can be a methodologically rigorous historian without fetishizing dead white men.
It’s all about skipping over the DWG’s!
lodubimvloyaar said: Wait, hold on. There was a suggestion that Urraca might be Muslim?
That seems to be the implication here, yes.
MPOC posts manuscript illustrations of:
The Kings of León and Castile 850s-1157, including of course, Urraca.
Are you saying that this Kings/Queen weren’t white?
This is why people shouldn’t trust tumblr.
All of which link to things that discuss the conquests of Hispania and the muslims of Spain. Which - again, given that Urraca helped lead the Reconquista, and was exceedingly Catholic, seems a bit odd.
Thank you, but I don’t need wikipedia. I actually know about my country’s history.
But maybe you should read this
That link, of course, details out the family lineage of the Royals in Spain/Hispania, including Urraca.
Anonymous said: for the benefit of those of us who lack a PHD in history, could you explain what is meant by "ahistorical"? one of the reasons I like medievalPOC so much is that they always try to "translate" things into a kind of language that people can understand even if they couldn't afford a degree/have learning disabilities/ESOL. and it's really hard to even understand your side of the argument because of that. or should history be kept only to people with the power and resources to get degrees?
No worries — I described something similar awhile back! I don’t actually have a PhD in history yet. But I’m going to be studying for one in art history. (I’m first gen, worked two jobs during school, have a load of debt, and completely understand how hard it is to gain traction.)
Ahistorical just means - not true to history, lacking the history’s context, or “perspective”. Historians often try to understand how things happened in the kind of world they happened in. For example, the world before the internet was really different than after the internet became widespread and used by most people.
So we might write about the average person’s experience differently before and after the boom of internet use by the average person. Certain things would be different: like how people found information, or communicated with friends, or even how language changes to “chatspeak”.
Another example: In the 19th century, when the US received a high influx of immigrants from Europe, many of whom were Eastern European, or non Anglo-Saxon — quite a few of those people were explicitly told they were not white. This is why you have things like the persecution of Jews, Italians, Slavs, Irish, etc in the 19th century. Today, we (Americans) do not distinguish all of these groups as not-white in our laws, hiring practices, and so on. An Irish man in the 1800’s would be treated completely differently than someone Irish today.
In fact, much of “western” racial ideas in the 19th century had to do with phrenology - a fancy word meaning what your skull looked like. A fake “science” which told people what a civilized head looked like. “Caucasian” came out on top.
Race was often determined like this!:
[Wiki: Scientific Racism]
Concepts of race are often time and place specific.
Here are earlier questions I wrote out:
- Can I apply modern terms to non-modern societies in history? (Something specific to here and now applied to something specific to the past, or a different place.)
- Are these terms accurate if they are based on modern ideas? (Is there a better term for what I mean? Can I use both words to describe the difference between then and now?)
- If they are not accurate to the ideas of the time then what terms would be? What were the concepts of terminology like in that moment in history at that specific place?
Anonymous said: It's becoming apparent that your current academic bubble is distracting you from critical thinking and analysis. You're a PhD student - you can connect ideas to different contexts.
This actually says nothing — what are you getting at?
barbotrobot said: "The US does not have one-size-fits-all racial categories for the world." Nor for all of history. Which, again, seems to be the entire point - medievalpoc uses images of people who might be characterized as people of color today to dismantle modern US ideas of what race means and has meant throughout history. I don't know much about visigoths, but remember that in part this blog was started to refute claims of "historical accuracy" in media as a defense of all white casts.
The visigoths were a branch of nomadic Germanic peoples — part of the Goths. They took over Hispania — Spain and Portugal (essentially, to really condense things).
To make brief: I actually know a fellow scholar who studies Queen Urraca and knows more than I could ever forget about the subject. The marriages of Urraca were political in nature, and helped unify the parts of Spain which were not Islamic (Arabic) or North African. The unifications helped the reconquista (or Reconquering of Hispania from Muslim and North African peoples) a sort of campaign to rid the country of them.
I am very outspoken against all white casts in the name of historical accuracy — because it’s simply not true. But don’t you find focusing on this would be far more interesting in the context that it existed in? (The fractured kingdoms of Visigoth descendants in Hispania, the Muslim caliphates in Spain, the North African presence….? Rather than trying to claim Queen Urraca was Muslim/Arabic, or North African….why not explain what she really was?
Queen Urraca was part of the Jiménez dynasty. Her family helped lead the reconquista as the “native ruling dynasty”. She was extremely Christian.
Text: As all Spanish medievalists are aware, the one hundred twenty years spanning the reigns of Fernando I (1037-1065), Alfonso VI (1065-1109), Urraca (1109-1126), and Alfonso VII (1126-1157) in Leon-Castilla have been neglected. No one of the four has inspired a biography. With the exception of the incomplete work of Peter Rassow the documents of none have been critically examined and edited. Yet in this period Leon-Castilla was inconstestably the greatest Christian kingdom in the peninsula and leader of the Reconquista. From this context an independent Portugal was born, the kingdom of Aragon consolidated, and an additional quarter of the peninsula’s land mass reclaimed from Islam.
Read here: http://libro.uca.edu/urraca/urraca.htm
To claim Urraca was perhaps muslim is absurd — especially since she and her predecessors spent quite a bit of time trying to wipe them out.
Anonymous said: But modern race relations is why so much of art history is being erased and taught incorrectly.. like paintings being cropped and or having the contrast toyed with to eliminate darker skin tone subjects. Mpoc is pointing out the problem not creating it.
I think there’s room for a lot of valid differentiation between “pointing out the erasure” as in paintings which have been cropped, and “displaying dark europeans and suggesting this automatically means POC”
jean-luc-gohard said: I think the purpose of the way MPOC contextualizes things racially is necessary to the discussion being had. If it was a pure art history blog, it would be a bad lens to view it through, but the point is to debunk the idea prevalent in American culture that there were no people that Americans would consider minorities in this day and age around in Europe in the middle ages, or that black and brown people were slaves until 1865. It's not saying those classifications applied when the art was made.
"It’s not saying those classifications applied when the art was made."
The very fact that they post people of ambiguously brown coloring (i.e. darker Europeans) and then have a blog called MPOC actually indirectly implies that yes, those classifications apply here.
That is rather what I have issue with. Those classifications don’t apply, and instead of exploring the ones that do, they simply let them stand on their own, and people will assume what they will. That’s not really education, so much as allowing people to make assumptions.