Hi all! I wanted to take a minute to say something as clearly and directly as I can. Medieval reenactment and recreation should be welcoming to all people. This is a matter of both history and, frankly, being an adult human on planet earth. To assume that Europe was a lily-white landscape throughout the late Iron Age, Medieval, and Early Modern periods is to indulge in the twin sins of laziness and lack of intellectual rigor. A culture of gate-keeping and exclusion, and worse, allowing racism, and its fellow horsemen of shittiness, antisemitism, islamaphobia, transphobia, and homophobia, a place to fester, is what will kill this hobby that I love.
Here are some sources (literally thirty seconds on Google – finding this stuff isn’t hard, I believe in you) to get you started on your research:
- Race and Identity in Medieval Europe by Lynn Ramey
- 8 Stunning Images of Black People In Medieval Europe by Jermaine Fowler
- Black Tudors: The Untold Story by Miranda Kaufman (book)
- The Medieval POC Tumblr blog
- The Public Medievalist’s Special Series: Race, Racism and the Middle Ages
- Revealing the African Presence in Renaissance Europe Exhibit book from the Walters Art Museum, available for free download.
As important as being welcoming to BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color – for why I use this term, see here), the other part of the job is acknowledging that this hobby is often seen as a place where racists, antisemites, islamaphobes, transphobes, and homophobes feel they can find a friendly ear. It shouldn’t be and my corner of it sure as shit isn’t.
I have failed at this in the past, glossing over someone’s assish behavior because they were well liked, or they could talk intelligently about things I wanted to talk about. I regret that I did not do a better job of this in the past and hope that when confronted by it in the future, that I live up to the person I want to be.
Anyway, this is a long way of saying that if “Black Lives Matters” makes you shout “All Lives Matter”; or you do not understand the call for justice for the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two Spirits; or you feel that systemic racism is only a thing that “snowflakes” worry about; or you think calling your boho-chic outfit your “gypsy garb” is a-okay; or you don’t get why President George W. Bush’s use of crusade imagery when discussing the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq was hella problematic; or you claim world events are directed by the Rothschilds or George Soros (looking at you, Alex Jones); or “bitch” and “pussy” are your go-to insults; or you think “exotic” women are inherently sexually appealing; or you think “real women have vaginas”; or you correlate sexual preference with “manliness” – then I’m going to suggest a couple steps: 1) acknowledge that change is good; 2) educate yourself (I’ve given you some links above to get you started); and 3) if education doesn’t bring enlightenment, exit stage left (pursued by bear).
I debated for a bit on whether or not to write this, but the wise words of Mode Historique encouraged me to reconsider my position and for that I thank her. I get the desire to be apolitical in your hobby, but honestly, as much as this hobby – these periods of history that I love, get used to support political ideas, it’s probably better to speak than to be silent. The original version of this was a little more directed and a little less free-wheeling, but I kept getting angry and ::gesticulates wildly::.