Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Whytaissance

Everyone likes the Renaissance, sort of like Hitler's Night of the Long Knives--the time when all the people who knew the Führer's dirty little secrets were wiped out. Westerners can't get enough of their grand revolution of thought and science, obsessed with the white artists who made such grand contributions to civilization, being that there was no painting beforehand. No glorious city of Timbuktu; no astronomy; no paved streets; no lavish black civilizations with food security and general safety existed before the Renaissance.

Why, oh why, do white people love the Renaissance so much? They celebrate the lord-beholden Michelangelo and the other patroned artists, fawn over the world's cultural treasures, and put on medieval garb and go to festivals where they buy free range chicken on a stick and watch knights fight from horseback. It's the proof of superior civilization, and everyone knows it. The linchpins of the western world, from the justification for parliamentary monarchy to the supposed cultural absorption of the American Empire, are built on the Renaissance's advance of civilization.

Like so many Memorial Days celebrated by peace-loving American presidents, though, the reason we celebrate the Renaissance--and all its mighty bullshit--is the Whitening aspect. The Renaissance is the best kind of conspiracy theory, similar to MKUltra in that so many of the planning documents have been destroyed that even the descendants of the perpetrators believe in the official narrative.

Sure, we're impressed with Leonardo's figure sketches for some reason, and there's the Mona Lisa and stuff, but the real driving force behind the Renaissance was the whitening and replacement of biblical imagery. Michelangelo's David; his and many other nobility-spawned renditions of the ancient saints and the biblical patriarchs: these are all just KKK-style crap that we've forgotten about in the few centuries in-between.

We all know this guy, right? Jesus, a.k.a. Cesare Borgia, the son of Pope Alexander VI (sic), born in the late 15th century and chosen as the new image of Jesus. And the church purge, yada yada, destroying all the earlier images of black Jesus, black apostles, black Christians. Sure, always fun to blame the Catholics. But what about the imaginarily-secular artists upon whom we rest the foundations of our culture? Michelangelo was the one who did the job for money, turning Jesus from a Semitic black into a blue-eyed white guy with a hipster douche.

The utter whitening of black Jesus was perhaps the most powerful single side effect of the Renaissance, and one not spoken of and adulated over, the way the other religious art transformations are. Because we know who Cesare Borgia is, and have papal records, we can track the specific co-option of Christianity by the imperial post-Romans. Like the co-option of other social revolutions--1970s nerdiness or 2014 media dissidence--the theft of Christianity-as-social-movement was profound, comprehensive, and soon forgotten. The cultural images of Africans in a pit, getting eaten by lions for the entertainment of a Caucasian nobility, were abruptly tossed into the memory hole, replaced by shots of heroic white saints suffering for the faith that would be used to justify the next thousand years of creditor-crown power relations. Blacks were wiped out of history as the post-Romans turned Marc Antony's rape and purchase of Cleopatra into an erotic fantasy of sexual choice by a liberated female ruler, and the incarnation of God became just another rich white guy.

That fast, medieval Europe suddenly believed itself the heirs of the One White Guy To Escape Nazareth.


Even bigger and deeper than the way blacks were driven out of Christianity was what the Jesus-scrub said about Judaism. Glossing over the true image of Jesus being an Israelite was important for the future of Christianity, but also Judaism--all the dark middle easterners who followed the Torah were, in the same stroke of the cultural pen, wiped out, and replaced by the Caucasian David. Yes, David is a really cool sculpture, but why has it been championed so vigorously by the western lords for over 500 years? Michelangelo was very skilled, and given access to a lot of new materials and public promotion, yes, but again, why this inordinate focus on him? Why do so many classes on history and political science look to Michelangelo, and his Jesus and his David, as such pivotal moments in human history?

David is so important because he is white. White David gets so much attention as an artistic marvel because, clad in Caucasian features and white marble, he seems to be a historical proof that the original Semites, and the line of belief that went from Torah to Gospel, is a white line. That's why it's so damn important--why people who cut funding to art programs in every public school in the country still exhibit such marvel at the idea of this one statue carved over 500 years before their latest speech. David, and Jesus, take Africa out of the equation: they exemplify the appropriation of hundreds of years of Semitic art, and replace entire cultures with whiter versions of themselves. It's not like Hunger Games and Inception's ripoffs of Battle Royale and Paprika were particularly new, and at least the Japanese got to keep their original, dated versions, so that later civilizations might be able to, on their own, figure out how filthy Collins and Nolan were. Oh no; the appropriation here was more than mere marketing trump, being instead a full overhaul and replacement of the original idea.

Everyone likes to say "Memory Hole" now and then, but here, it's literal. The papal purge took away God knows how many (sic) pieces of invaluable human art and human history simply because they portrayed one (potentially) historical figure as non-white. Took, and destroyed, and destroyed records of, so that Jesus and the Torah Jews would be a more appealing marketing tool for future use. We know that slaves in ancient Egypt tended to be blacker, sub-Saharan Africans, where the original Israelites fit in, but all we have left behind after these memory-wipes are fine carvings of white people portraying themselves as the victims, the oppressed, and the resistance.

Even just from an artistic perspective, how can you recover from that? Particularly after so many hundreds of years of white people parading around replacement images and claiming them as the real thing?


The purging of African representations of African history before the Renaissance was very thorough. The Pope oversaw the tracking down of unapproved Jesus-imagery, while the nobility exterminated non-white images of Jewry, and replaced them with delightfully bleached clones: Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel with the white Adam, which is nearly as promoted as David; his Crucifixion; his equally white-marbled Madonna, in the company of a bright-eyed little white baby; his The Last Judgment; his endless white sculpted Saints, and his patriarchal, European Moses... It's SWPL, way before the internet. That's your Renaissance, people--a burning cross driven into the husk of African culture, where Europe stole Judaism and Christianity from their creators (or vessels, if you prefer).
Dark am I, yet lovely,
daughters of Jerusalem,
dark like the tents of Kedar,
like the tent curtains of Solomon.
Do not stare at me because I am dark,
because I am darkened by the sun.
Song of Solomon 1:5-6
The Torah and the Gospels are littered with stuff like that--Africans' descriptions of themselves, encountering Europeans who are haughtily surprised that they can speak coherently.
As the soldiers were about to take Paul into the barracks, he asked the commander, “May I say something to you?”
“Do you speak Greek?” he replied. “Aren’t you the Egyptian who started a revolt and led four thousand terrorists out into the wilderness some time ago?”
Paul answered, “I am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no ordinary city. Please let me speak to the people.”
-Acts 21:38-39
See? There's even some left after King James and the NIV translation committee got done scrubbing it.

From picture to text, the European job made Africa fade into the background of history. Suddenly, all the Christians and Jews were "white," and whiter as time went on. But the excursions into Africa never stopped. Crusades, colonies, resettlement, and then, thousands of years after Moses left, that's right, triangle trade incoming, and slave ships come back again to teach Africans all about White Jesus and picking cotton. A few years later, schools are desegregated, and it's time for all the Africans to learn about the glories of the European Renaissance, while a Federal Reserve Bank and an International Monetary Fund staffed by white people demand repayment for various development loans to the rotating warlords of the post-colonial states.

Welcome to the New Africomm, and I'll see you at the Faire.

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