Everyone knows that in 1492 an Italian sailor named Cristoforo Colombo sailed the ocean blue, stumbling across what we would eventually come to call the Americas. But while his voyage may have been the first of its kind, he was by no means the first explorer. With the exception of the Americas, the late medieval world from which Columbus emerged was one of long-established contact, as trade and curiosity sent out earlier explorers, seeking across both land and sea.
Last month fashion icons Dolce & Gabbana sent models down the runway sporting earrings carved in the likeness of black women. The uproar was instantaneous. One story described the earrings as “slave-like,” linking them to a long history of black caricatures. Another lampooned D&G for engaging in “cartoonish, debasing, subaltern imagery that would make even your politically incorrect Grandpa think twice.” The official media term for them became, “slave earrings.”