University of Iowa Professor Blames White Marble Statues for Racism

Flickr/Creative Commons

University of Iowa professor Sarah Bond authored an entire op-ed crediting the use of white marble in classical art for modern day racism — claiming that its beauty is a “dangerous construct that continues to influence white supremacist ideas today.”

Bond’s piece, published on the art and culture website Hyperallergic, asserts that “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.”

According to Bond, the fact that many of the most prominent classical statues and sarcophagi are made with white marble creates a “false idea of homogeneity.” She asserts that while the Romans did not describe themselves as “white,” the popularity of white statues is what eventually lead to humans ranking those with lighter skin tones as more desirable.

As no liberal op-ed would be complete without comparing someone or something to Nazis, Bond made sure to do just that.

Discussing the white marble Roman Apollo of the Belvedere, Bond notes that Dutch anatomist Pieter Camper has used measurements of the statues features, such as the lines running from the nose to the ear and the forehead to the jawbone, to find the formula for perfect beauty. This, according to Bond, is also racist.

“Those ratios were later used by others to create the racist ‘cephalic index,’ which categorized humans based on the width and length of their facial features. The Nazis drew on the index to support notions of Aryan superiority in Germany during the Third Reich,” the professor wrote.

To solve this problem of perceived ancient racism in history, Bond wrote that she doesn’t recommend going and painting the statues — but would like to see “3D reconstructions alongside originals,” essentially rewriting history. She also suggested that museums alter the displays of these historic works of art by using “computerized light projections” to virtually change them.

“It may have taken just one classical statue to influence the false construction of race, but it will take many of us to tear it down. We have the power to return color to the ancient world, but it has to start with us,” the professor wrote.

In a comment to Campus Reform, Bond stated that “the point is simply that Greeks and Romans actually added color to their art and thus white marble was often the canvas rather than the finished product. The exalting of white (and unpainted) marble was then an 18th century construct of beauty rather than representative of the classical view.”

A commentator on Bond’s article, using only the name “Michael,” pointed out that Bond’s call for changing the presentation of historic artifacts “is projecting the concerns of the present onto the distant past, which I thought was a big fallacy which every historian is supposed to avoid. If the classical world didn’t have our notions of “white people” and racism, they also didn’t have our modern notions of anti-racism, multi-culturalism, and diversity as a value.”

In George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984, the Ministry of Truth also rewrote history. The author wrote that this Marxist tactic is essentially a form of mind control being used by Big Brother to control the population’s perception of reality.

“History is constantly rewritten to suit the current goals of the Party. Only the destruction of human memory will make it possible. Hence the Ministry of Truth (Minitru) modifies history perpetually to the tune of the ideals of the Party,” Orwell wrote.

Our Latest Articles