Ancient Egyptian Afrikans, Part Two: The Coyote Kings Debate

On a related note:

The nice folks at SFF have decided to make The Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad their book of the month for discussion. But I was surprised to find that someone had challenged the novel’s depiction of Egypt on ethnic-racial grounds, writing: “I also was not happy with the blatant expropriation of Egyptian history and culture by those who are not Egyptian. Just coming from the same continent does not entitle someone or their ancestors to assume credit for the work of others in the past. While it might seem that the ancient Egyptians are no longer around to speak for themselves, their descendents with DNA evidence are.”

My reply:

“First of all, how does [the writer] know I’m not Egyptian? Second, Europeans have spent the last quarter-millennium expropriating Egyptian history by doing everything from inventing the myth of ‘Hamitic’ invaders to the endless slew of Hollywood fare such as Cleopatra and Stargate which depict the ancient Egyptians in a way the Egyptians themselves never did--as White folks.

"Nordic and Slavic (and other Europeans) whose cultures have no organic connection with ancient Greece and Rome nonetheless derive their continental and 'racial' heritage from those two societies. Afrikans also have the right to draw their continental heritage according to the same rule; furthermore, numerous non-Egyptian Afrikan societies are authentically, organically connected with Afrikan Egypt, particularly Nubia; see The African Origin of Civilisation: Myth or Reality? by Cheikh Anta Diop, Black Spark, White Fire: Did African Explorers Civilise Ancient Europe? by Richard Poe, and ‘Finally in Africa? Egypt, from Diop to Celenko’ by Aaron Kamugisha in Race & Class 2003; 45: 31-60, among many others, for a weighty explanation of the cultural, linguistic, religious, and physical anthropological data.

"It is not Afrikans who are guilty of 'blatant expropriation of Egyptian history and culture,' but rather the expansive imperialist project of Euro-America for the last 250 years, as amply demonstrated by Martin Bernal in Black Athena: The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization (The Fabrication of Ancient Greece 1785-1985, Volume 1.

"...[W]hen it comes to assertions that are inaccurate ... or inaccurate and offensive (accusing me of promoting Black “stereotypes”) or ahistorical and apparently accepting a double standard (that Egypt isn’t Afrikan or that non-Egyptians Afrikans have no right to draw two-way links to a society that is amply Afrikan), then I have a right, on a public forum, to correct the record.”


Scott said…
I have absolutely no doubt that Tutankhamen, Hatsepshut, Nefertiti, Imhotep, or any of the other Egyptians of the earlier dynasties would nowadays be classified as African or black, based on contemporary depictions. The description of Egyptians in general in Herodotus' histories is also telling.

Cleopatra, however - pretty clearly Greek. She has one grandmother unaccounted for who *might* have not been a Ptolemy, but unless you believe the Macedonians of the time to also have been black...

Of course, that's a fairly minor nitpick, all things considered. I also recognize that you might be referring more to the depiction of Egyptians in general in movie versions of Cleopatra than her own ethnicity, in which case the charge is completely accurate that these films tend to whitewash what was probably an interestingly varied (but primarily African/black) racial mix by that time, simply given the admixture of settlers from the Middle East going back to Mosaic times.

And none of this takes away from the ridiculousness in general of claiming that those of African descent don't have the same right to point to a continuity with ancient Egypt that those of European descent do to look towards Greece and Rome.
Anonymous said…
Thanks for your comments, Scott. I completely agree with you about Cleopatra the historical figure; my intention (insufficiently communicated) was to say that the FILM *Cleopatra*, as most Hollywood depictions of Ancient Egypt, depicted "foreign" Afrikans as enslaved to the "indigenous White" Egyptians. But of course, you're right... the Cleopatras (all of them) were daughters of the Ptolemies. Even if they had Egyptian mothers, after several generations we're definitely discussing Greeks and Greek-looking people.
Anonymous said…
The previous comment was mine, BTW. Thanks again, Scott.

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