If you type ‘Netflix’ and ‘Cleopatra’ in Twitter’s search engine, it opens up the floodgates of video interviews, news accounts, and clownish spoofs of various caricatures poking fun of the notion of Cleopatra being black. One interview features an Egyptian citizen accusing black people of trying to steal his historical heritage. And there’s more than a few people weighing in on the top. I’ve added my voice to the mix — which led one misguided soul to lead his response to me with the N-word! I get the sense that no amount of verifiable documentation from any number of scholars who’ve made ancient Egypt the focus of their life’s work is going to change that Arab Egyptian’s mind. Or the minds of many who’ve been indoctrinated by Western his’story.
I’d bet my one and only life that none of the non-believers ever heard of Cheikh Anta Diop, or Theophile Obenga, or John Henrik Clarke, Molefe Kete Asante, Ivan Van Sertima, Yosef ben-Jochannan or Anthony Browder. Or any of the so-called “Afrocentric” scholars. In fact, the word “Afrocentric,” a term that was coined and made popular by Temple University’s Molefi K. Asante, has been made a bad word by those opposed to the idea that the ancient Egyptians were black people. Critics has ghettoized the term Afrocentric to connote that somehow or another “Afrocentric scholars” are less than; that they indulge in pseudo scholarship. Asante has written a whopping 100 books, many of them delving explicitly with ancient Egypt and Africa; including “The History of Africa.” I interviewed Dr. Asante 29 years ago on a TV show I created named Harambe. The show’s title: “Were The Ancient Egyptians Black.” It’s posted on YouTube and to this very day is still hotly debated and contested. Diop’s academic legacy rivals any scholar of any ethnic persuasion, anywhere in the distance or recent past.
And so the debate continues. Arab Egyptians contesting that the ancient Egyptians were black but laying claim to ancient Egypt even though Arabs didn’t conquer Egypt (Kemet) until the 7th Century AD (639 AD). Moreover, there’s not one Egyptian Pharaoh who was Arab. Not one. And then you have white folks who want to claim Egypt via the ancient Greeks. Yet the grandeur of classical Egypt pre-dated the Ptolemy era by thousands of years! Now, about Cleopatra. That is Cleopatra the 7th, Dr. Molefi Asante addressed that topic last weekend. He backed into the subject of her color by providing context into who preceded her. He said she was not Arab and she wasn’t what we classify as white today but an admixture. You can watch his presentation here.
There is no shortage of information on who the ancient Egyptians were, from the Greeks themselves, Herodotus Book II to Aristotle to Lucian and others. My advice to anyone looking to find credible information on the race and color of the people of ancient Egypt to look for books written by Cheikh Anta Diop, Martin Bernal, Molefi Kete Asante, Anthony Browder. There are others as well. Start with the Master, Egyptologist, Anthropologist and Physicist Dr. Cheikh Anta Diop.