The history of black enslavement, and all of the portrayals and stereotypes that sprung out of that is a topic I only knew to a certain extent. While growing up, you learn in school about systematic racism, including the history of slavery and oppression. I knew about the barbaric treatment of the slaves, the African Slave Trade, and the notion that black people were seen as animals. However, after reading the materials and watching the short clip on “The Birth of a Nation,” I feel I am much more educated on the topic of black history. In the piece “Look, a Negro: How the New World African Became an Object of History,” I found it super interesting when the author discussed how there is a slight debate on how black people came to be seen as inferior and “not human.” It says that American philosopher, Cornell West, argued that in the 1600s, the way black people started to be seen as inferior was because they did not resemble the look of man in Greek art. People back then felt that the closer an individual was to looking like that Greek statues, the closer that race was to ideal. Since Africans did not exhibit these qualities (dark skin, thicker lips, broader noses, coarser hair etc.), they were seen as the inferior race. To the white people in the 1600s, this meant that Africans were not beautiful on the outside, and therefore were not beautiful on the inside either. I had never thought of this rationale, as it’s fascinating how much art and culture can influence ideas. The second argument about how black inferiority came to be has to do with the European’s negative association with the color black. They believed that black was associated with evil, danger, and repulsion, therefore labeling Africans as not only ugly, but flawed in character. Whatever the case, whether that be not resembling Greek art or being seen as spiritually bad, these beliefs ended up creating an inhuman system of slavery and the collective thinking that black people were not human, and thought more of as animals. In addition to this, I thought the athlete comparison with slavery was super well thought out in order to alter the true definition of slavery. I had never thought about how coaches and admissions officers offering parents an education for their children in exchange for their athletic abilities an aspect of “slavery.” Obviously, this is not the same horrible treatment and version of slavery that blacks experienced, which is why the piece goes to say that slavery is not just someone being another person’s property. It is better defined as “a form of social death, which entails alienation and strangeness vis-a-vis the dominant society.” Finally, the short clip about “The Birth of a Nation” really shocked me. There was one part of the video where it shows a scene from the movie where a white woman commits suicide in order to escape the presence of a black man (or really a white man in black face). This portrayal of black people after emancipation being criminals, dangerous, and uncontrollable (especially towardes the women) put ideas and fears into people’s heads. This is another example, as I was saying earlier, in which art is able to so clearly shape ideas in society.