White conservative author Richard Poe explores the racially African reality of Ancient Egypt and the reasons the academic and publishing world want people like him to shut up
The next time you feel like starting a blood feud, go to a Classics lecture on any American campus or to any American publishing house and say the following: “Egypt was a racially African civilisation. And it conquered and civilised Greece.”
As amply demonstrated by the growth industry in anti-Afrocentric publishing, North America’s racially-poisoned debates about nearly everything have made the discussion of the racial identity of a people from six thousand years ago almost as vicious as the fight in Syria right now.
Why the controversy? Because of what Martin Bernal, author of Black Athena: The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilisation, described as the contest between the Ancient Model and the Aryan model of ancient Greece and Egypt. The ancient Greeks made it clear that Egypt was their instructor and inspiration for nearly all the aspects of their civilisation; Europe believed this ancient testimony up until the age of imperialism. At that point it became morally and intellectually unfeasible to consider that those who were becoming the victims of the European Holocaust against Africa and the growing White world supremacy could be the grandfathers of European civilisation itself. The racism necessary to justify that conquest was never defeated, not even after the Nazis were, who were inspired by the same racist historical revisionism.
Enter Richard Poe, author of the controversial Black Spark, White Fire: Did African Explorers Civilise Ancient Europe?, a book whose trials of publication are almost as stunning as its revelations about the ancient world.
So, Poe must be an angry African writer with an Afrocentric spear to sharpen, right? The kind who wants nothing more than to smear and destroy the European canon? Hardly. Poe is an award-winning, pro-gun, pro-capitalism, right-wing American journalist, part Russian-Jewish, part Mexican, and best-selling author. So any notion that Poe is pandering to Black radicalism couldn’t be further from the truth. So is the idea that Poe cynically wrote the book to cash in on the Afrocentric movement.
In fact, Poe had a hell of a fight to get his book in print. White editors and publishers he approached either didn’t want a White writer to write the book, or didn’t want the book written at all. Some were upset of baffled by the notion of a African Egypt; one made bizarre reference to her fear that her mother might be mugged by Black criminals--as if this were relevant to an ancient civilisation thousands of kilometres away.
Some academics didn’t want to touch the issue--as Poe makes clear, established academics are sometimes professionally and personally vicious enough to young mavericks to destroy their careers; perhaps only a journalist, argues Poe, has the freedom to write such a book.
Some freedom--Poe ended up forking over $30,000 US of his own money to get the book researched, including the creation of artwork to display the forensic reconstruction of the face of an ancient Egyptian skull. And perhaps if famed Afrocentrist* professor, Dr. Molefi Kete Asante, head of Temple University’s African Studies Department, hadn’t written the introduction to this book, few Africans in the US might have taken the book seriously.
Neither White liberal nor Black radical, Poe is also unlike many Afrocentric Egyptologists in that he doesn’t regard the Greeks as mere historical plagiarists of greater, more ancient Egyptian genius. He is concerned neither with racial solidarity nor a political-academic agenda--his sole concern seems to be the truth, hence his sacrifices.
Highly accessible and jargon-free, Richard Poe’s Black Spark, White Fire is a dazzling voyage through the genealogy of human civilisation with forays into race, mysticism, science, philosophy, culture, and technology that one needn’t be a specialist or a classicist in order to follow.
I went far below the pharaoh’s chamber in the Grand Lodge of Imhotep archives for today’s conversation. Richard Poe spoke with me by telephone way back in April, 2000. He discussed:
- His reactions to the attacks against Afrocentric historiography by people such as Mary Lefkowitz, author of Not Out of Africa
- The relevance of the classic text Stolen Legacy by George G.M. James, and
- Why there’s a pyramid on Greek soil, whom the ancient Greeks say is responsible for building it, and why most of us have never heard of it.
We began by discussing the eternal relevance of history.
*Molefi Kete Asante is the author of the classic book Afrocentricity. Many who identify with his work and ideology are called Afrocentrists. Critics of their inquiry mislabel the movement as Afrocentrism. Any use in this blog entry of the prefix “Afro-” refers to Asante’s work or his movement. I use the term “Africentric” simply to mean “centered on Africa and from an African perspective.
To hear the hour-long, patrons-only extended edition of my conversation with Richard Poe, visit mfgalaxy.org to click on the Patreon link to become a sponsor for a dollar or more per week.
By funding MF GALAXY, you get access to all extended editions of the show, plus video excerpts from selected interviews as they become available. This extended edition includes Richard Poe discussing:
- The Egyptian pharaohs named Senwosret who had a huge impact on Ancient Europe
- The African colonists of Egyptian descent who settled around the Black Sea in ancient times
- His take on the work of Martin Bernal, author of Black Athena: The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilisation
- A forensic reconstruction of a high-ranking Ancient Egyptian named Natsef-Amun that casts light on his race
- The extreme and often emotional resistance of Eurocentric academics to acknowledging the Africanity of Ancient Egypt’s population
- The Afroasiatic language family that includes Ancient Egyptian, Ethiopian languages, and Hebrew and Arabic
- The extensive cultural similarities between Ancient Egypt and other African civilisations
- The publicity freeze-out against Black Spark, White Fire, and
- The reaction of the Oprah Book Club against the book
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