Black King of Songs
His communism brought the great American singer Paul Robeson trouble in the U.S., but helped make him a hero in China.
The African Anthropocene
Every year, human activity moves more sediment and rock than all natural processes combined, including erosion and rivers. This might not shock you. In fact, you’ve probably seen similar soundbites circulating online, signals of the sheer scale of how we’re terraforming the planet in the era of the Anthropocene. Natural and social scientists argue passionately about almost everything Anthropocenic, from the nuances of nomenclature to the start-date of the new geological epoch, but most agree on one thing: the Earth will outlive humanity. What’s in doubt is how long we will populate the planet, and under what conditions.
How ‘white people’ were invented by a playwright in 1613
The Jacobean playwright Thomas Middleton invented the concept of ‘white people’ on 29 October 1613, the date that his play The Triumphs of Truth was first performed. The phrase was first uttered by the character of an African king who looks out upon an English audience and declares: ‘I see amazement set upon the faces/Of these white people, wond’rings and strange gazes.’