I used to write a website about movies and television with the occasional Think Piece on Gwyneth Paltrow’s spending power. It is a website that just happens to be closing up shop for good tomorrow, unfortunately. Ours was a love the world could not understand. R.I.P.
By the end of my tenure at the soon (so soon) to be defunct pop culture website, it genuinely felt like I was reading the Entire Internet every day, and the only takeaway one can have from reading the Entire Internet every day is that the Internet is 100% Horrible. There’s a common sense that the Internet is just a collection of sad adolescent trolls hiding in their parents’ basements throwing digital feces through the proverbial bars, but the truth is much worse. Everyone is throwing the digital feces. The trolls just enjoy it a little more.
So, one of the most wonderful aspects of stopping writing for that website on a daily basis was that I also stopped reading other websites on a daily basis. With rare exception, I haven’t LOOKED at a blog in six months, much less read one. I still look at Tumblr most days, but Tumblr might as well be Instagram. It hardly counts.
And yet, I somehow have not managed to escape Blog Culture, because Blog Culture has become so pervasive that we are all doomed to a wasteland future of ad hominem non-jokes, knee-jerk unreflective judgements punched out on iPads during commercial breaks, and a Smithsonian’s worth of #selfies.
Like. There are a lot of things I could say here. But I’m just going to do my best to answer your question, and the answer is either very simple or very complicated, depending on your current point of view.
1. “They” knew what people with brown skin looked like because people with brown skin had been there literally THE ENTIRE TIME. Some (and father back, ALL) of “them” had brown skin themselves.
2. “People with Brown Skin” and “Europeans” are not separate and mutually exclusive groups.
3. No matter how far back you go, the mythical time that you’re looking for, when all-white, racially and culturally isolated Europe was “real”, will continue to recede from your grasp until it winkles out the like imaginary place it is.
We can just keep going back. In every area, from all walks of life, rich and poor, kings and peasants, artists and iconoclasts, before there were countries and continents, before there were white people.
The time when “EVERYONE” in Europe was White does not exist. They knew what people with brown skin looked like because they were there. They knew what “Africans” looked like because they were there, and they weren’t “they”, they were us, or you. I think what you’re missing is something that never existed.