Over on facebook in a private group is this meme being shared relating to Medusa and her apparent African origins. The meme is extremely questionable, especially considering it is completely lacking sources and any reference to where the info is coming from. However it has likewise caused protest amongst some Hellenic Polytheists who appear to be misinformed about the cultural exchange between the Greeks and nations south of the Aegean. Below is my response, due to facebooks nature I couldn’t include links or images which I have done here and merits a proper blog post:
This meme is very misleading and questionable but there are some interesting notes in this regard. The iconography of the Gorgon is extremely old, like pre-historic old, some historians suspect it was the first depiction of the face. (Marija Gimbutas) The oldest depictions are actually questionable in terms of sex, with the gorgon having both male and female features. They also share similar characteristics with The Master of Beasts iconography found in the Minoan culture. Universally Gorgons are apotropaic, warding off evil which can be connected to early shamanistic concepts. The mask-like quality of the gorgon also hints at other apotropaic deities like Dionysos. (Who likewise shares connections with the Master of Beasts, intersex nature and shamanic ties).
Blacks were present early in Greece, some were slaves, but also some were free, meaning that they were not regarded as a specific ‘slave race’. (See slavery in ancient Greece). Blacks likewise did influence ancient Greek religion, a Dionysian hero -claimed to have introduced the Dionysian cult to Greece by Herodotus- is Melampus, referenced as being a black African that presented a Hellenic variant of Egyptian religion. We also have Aesop establishing tales that are regarded as Hellenic but share a cultural connection with his African origins. So yes, Greeks were influenced by Africa in some sense.
Blacks were depicted in Greek art too, in some instances they are illustrated with satyr like features or examples of satyrs, relating to Dionysos. Also there are curious pottery from Thebes celebrating their variant of the Samothracian mysteries. The meaning of these pots are contestable, but modern research concludes that they may have been used for apotropaic purposes. Therefore illustrating a possible link between blacks and gorgon imagery.