No one knows when Angela was born. But she was probably young. If she was 19 years old in 1619, she’d have been born in 1600, the year John translated into English and published A Geographical Historie of Africa, a book of racist ideas about Angela’s race. First written in 1526, and popular as late as the 19th century, its racist ideas apparently had to be true since they were written by an African Moor, Leo Africanus (who probably sought favor from the Italian court that had freed and converted him). “The Negroes likewise leade a beastly kinde of life, being utterly destitute of the use of reason, of dexteritie of wit, and of all artes,” Africanus wrote. “Yea they so behave themselves, as if they had continually lived in a forrest among wilde beasts.”
For Kendi, this is both hopeful and hopeless in how far we have and have not progressed. The New York Times has also collected a number of pieces reflecting on the legacy. This includes an alternative history of slavery, the intertwined tale of sugar and slavery and the origins of today’s democracy.