Thursday, February 16, 2017

the last book I ever read (Ibram X. Kendi's Stamped from the Beginning, excerpt two)

from the 2016 National Book Award winner for Nonfiction Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi:

Whether they chose to illuminate the stamp of Blackness through curse theory or climate theory, the travel writers and translators of the time had a larger common goal, and they accomplished it: they ushered in the British age of adventure. They were soon followed by another group: the playwrights. With the English literacy rate low, many more British imaginations were churned by playwrights than by travel writers. At the turn of the century, a respected London playwright from Stratford-upon-Avon was escorting English audiences back into the ancient world and around modern Europe, from Scotland (Macbeth), to Denmark (Hamlet), to inferior Blackness and superior Whiteness in Italy (The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice). The racial politics of William Shakespeare’s Othello did not surprise English audiences when it premiered in 1604. By the late 1500s, English dramatists were used to manufacturing Satan’s Black agents on earth. Shakespeare’s first Black character, the evil, oversexed Aaron in Titus Andronicus, first came to the stage in 1594. Down in Spain, dramatists frequently staged Black people as cruel idiots in the genre called comedias de negros.

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