Throughout history, white supremacists have appropriatde classical sculpture as evidence of their racial superiority (even though the sculptures were originally painted in a variety of skin tones). Most recently, the white nationalist group Identity Evropa depicted Michelangelo’s David and the Apollo Belvedere on posters alongside such slogans as “Protect Your Heritage.”
Turns out, we’re not the only ones wondering why white nationalists are so keen to tout classical sculpture as proof of their supposedly pure bloodline. On a recent episode of Full Frontal, late-night host Samantha Bee dispatched the twin comedians Kenny and Keith Lucas—known as The Lucas Brothers—to the august Metropolitan Museum of Art to find out.
The segment, “White at the Museum,” which aired on April 3, follows the duo as they infiltrate the Met after hours for a technicolor tour of the classical sculptures that are so frequently appropriated.
Along the way, the brothers speak to the Met’s chief scientist, Dr. Marco Leona, who swiftly dispels the myth of racial homogeneity, saying “the ancient world was not like this. Where you see white, you have to imagine vibrant color… marble was just the canvas that a painter would decorate.”
The twins also visit with Dr. Sarah Bond, an art historian from the University of Iowa, and Dr. Chenjerai Kumananyika of Rutgers, who confirm that whiteness was not a category of biographical race that existed in ancient Greece, but was, in fact, a system of oppression brought by Europeans.
Watch the full segment of “Full Frontal: White at the Museum” below.
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