Is This The Most Beautiful Image In The World, Right Now?
The black foetus
All through my years of compulsory education, I have absolutely no recollection of Black folk being represented or captured in a meaningful, scientific way.
When we delve deep into history, there are some egregious images of Black people that’s seared into our subconscious.
There is Sarah Baartman, the South African woman, also known as the Hottentot venus, who was paraded around Europe in the most dehumanizing way imaginable as some sort of anthropological specimen. According to reports from the 19th century she was described as “ the missing link between man and beast”
And for well over a century after her death, her remains were still being displayed at Muséum d’histoire naturelle d’Angers, until Mandela’s government formally petitioned the French government to have her body returned to the land of her birth for a proper burial. Even then, it took the French government a long time to accede to this request.
There is the image of the young Congolese kid who was placed in a cage for the amusement of Americans well over a hundred years ago, who subsequently committed suicide. It took the Bronx zoo 114 years to apologize for its atrocity.
We also cannot forget Henrietta Lacks, whose cancer cells are the source of the HeLa cell line, which is the first human immortalized cell line and one of the most important cell lines in medical research.
Why have I brought these stories up?
To articulate the degree to which the West has actively dehumanized and simultaneously airbrushed people of African descent from the dominant narrative of the last three hundred years.
It is no exaggeration to state that Black people were the guinea pigs on which great numbers of ground breaking research were conducted.
And it is with this in context that I write of the great beauty of seeing this illustrated image of the black foetus.
Owing to years of ingrained systemic racism, no one has ever seen it fit to question…