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Africa during the Scramble: I am not an Animal

Charles EP M.

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Published by SLP
The point that Europe had already got small populations of black citizens & expats - and had seen more of them in the past - when the first human zoos were going "LOOK AT THIS" is eye-opening.
 

Alex Richards

A musical Hubble Space Telescope
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The point that Europe had already got small populations of black citizens & expats - and had seen more of them in the past - when the first human zoos were going "LOOK AT THIS" is eye-opening.
To be completely fair, it's likely that many- if not the majority- of those who went to the human zoos wouldn't have seen black people before. The most likely would have been the very poor in dockyard areas, and the very wealthy who might have seen the high status figures.
 

Gary Oswald

It was Vampire Unions that got us Vampire Weekend
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To be completely fair, it's likely that many- if not the majority- of those who went to the human zoos wouldn't have seen black people before. The most likely would have been the very poor in dockyard areas, and the very wealthy who might have seen the high status figures.
It's impossible to know for sure. In the time of Sara's performance, you'd be looking at over 10,000 black residents in Britain and around 6,000 in London, out a city of a million that's not a lot, especially if you consider how much harder travel was but it's not also not nobody. You'd probably see a black beggar, or a black member of a marching band or a black prostitute anywhere in the poorer areas of London, and you certainly would in the docklands, where obviously they'd be most common.

And people like Equiano had toured to as many as people as saw Sara just for other reasons, though that was decades earlier.

Undoubtedly for some of the crowd the novelty was her colour but I think to a large extent its her dress and mannerisms that are being sold, she's not black, she's an African from the bush. And that's kind of how the human zoos mostly worked. 1905 New York was not short of black people, but it was short of cannibal pygmies.
 

Gary Oswald

It was Vampire Unions that got us Vampire Weekend
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In the case of Sara, at least in Paris, there are her buttocks.
Fair, I do skip over that element a lot and that was her freakishness, that was the thing that people were lining up to see. The large buttocks and labia, hence the nudes and the paying extra to grope her. Its not just that shes black, its that shes black and has a different body shape, much like benga being a pygmy.

But again that's only as evident as it was due to the clothing and the dancing and the way she was presented. There is evidence from primary sources that when fully dressed she didnt get attention in the same way.
 

Avian Overlord

Mystical American Freedom Bird
In court it was argued that Sara was no different than any white ‘freak’ displaying themselves in circuses, such as Joseph Merrick did decades later.
It's a interesting contrast to make, considering that a lot of freaks did quite well for themselves. I'm particularly thinking of the Bunker twins in America, who actually have a similar backstory of being non-westerners being picked up by a white businessman and brought to the west, but they eventually told him to stuff it and then proceeded to make enough money to become members of the southern slave-owning aristocracy. Which created the counterintuitive situation after the war of people having ethical problems with paying money to see "freaks" because of what said freaks had done previously.
 
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