University of Iowa professor Sarah Bond declared this week that white marble statues promote racism and "influence white supremacist ideas."
Bond made the statement in an essay published Tuesday by the arts and culture blog, Hyperallergic. In the piece, which was titled, "Why we need to start seeing the classical world in color," Bond made the argument that because people associate white marble with beauty, the sculptures should be altered to be a different color so that minorities "see themselves" in it.
"Most museums and art history textbooks contain a predominantly neon white display of skin tone when it comes to classical statues and sarcophagi. This has an impact on the way we view the antique world," she wrote. "The assemblage of neon whiteness serves to create a false idea of homogeneity — everyone was very white! — across the Mediterranean region."
"The Romans, in fact, did not define people as 'white'; where, then, did this notion of race come from?" Bond asked.
According to an article by Lloyd Thompson, professor at the University of Ibadan in Ibadan, Nigeria, the ancient Romans did not treat individuals differently based on their "parentage" or "blood," but on each person's "physical appearance."
"To many," Bond wrote, "the pristine whiteness of marble statues is the expectation and thus the classical ideal. But the equation of white marble with beauty is not an inherent truth of the universe. Where this standard came from and how it continues to influence white supremacist ideas today are often ignored."
In the essay, Bond stressed the importance of people of color being able to identify with figures depicted in ancient artwork.
"I’m not suggesting that we go, with a bucket in hand, and attempt to repaint every white marble statue across the country," Bond said.
Instead, she recommended the use of signage and "light projections" at museums to what she says would better portray the ancient Roman world.
The University of Iowa professor advocated for others to "tear it down," referring to the "false construction of race" thousands of years ago.
"We have the power to return color to the ancient world, but it has to start with us," Bond said.
(H/T: Campus Reform)